Friday, March 23, 2012

Doubt and How I Kick it to the Curb

Doubt. It creeps up on us out of nowhere and makes us feel like we're not good enough. This happened to me recently. I wrote a manuscript that my agent loved. Her comment was, "You nailed it!" Great, right? Yes and no.


I was working on another WIP when her comments came back to me. At first I was so excited. Then doubt set in. Can I write another MS that's just as good? This isn't the first time I felt this way either. After getting my book deal for Touch of Death, I thought, Can I do it again? What if this was a fluke? A one-time thing?


So what did I do? I kept writing. And some days I felt like what I wrote wasn't my best. But other days, I got back into the zone and lost track of the hours as I just wrote. We all experience doubt, but we can't let it stop us. We have to push through, even when we feel like we aren't writing our best stuff. Keep writing. You will hit that groove again, and you can fix any sub par parts during revision.


When was the last time you had to kick doubt to the curb?

74 comments:

  1. The last time? Earlier this week, after I turned in my manuscript revisions to my editor and then looked around to see what other project I could work on next. And none of them measured up to the one I just turned in.

    Then I said, "Well, duh. Because the one I turned in is in its final stages of honing and refining, and these are just beginning. Deal with it!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great way to rationalize that, Dianne. It's definitely true. Our work can't be its best right off the bat. We have to revise, revise, and revise some more to get it to that WOW level. :)

      Delete
  2. Yeah, I'm with you! I prefer grinding doubt up in the disposal, but same idea. ;-)

    It's pretty hard to keep persistent at writing if you can't turn the doubt off. I think we all have it--especially those of us who aren't yet agented or don't yet have book deals--BUT staying motivated is key, and it's hard to do that if you're constantly doubting yourself.

    I had a moment this week too--who doesn't? But like you, I tossed it out and stuck with my manuscript. Rock on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you, kiperoo! It's funny because when I was querying agents I thought I'd stop doubting myself once I got an agent. Wrong. Then I thought the doubt would go away after I got a book deal. Wrong. It never goes away. We just have to push it aside when it creeps up on us.

      Delete
  3. Oh, thanks for sharing this post, Kelly. Had to kick Doubt earlier this week as well. For me it was whether the first chapter of my WIP sounds intriguing enough to pull as reader in, or that first line on the first chapter of the story. Kicked doubt out and braved on... :) So far I think it it's not that bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Way to kick doubt to the curb, Cecilia!

      Delete
  4. Keeping on keeping on is the key. It's definitely hard at times. That's why I'm so glad to have all our blogging buds. Beginning there to encourage one another is so important.

    It's weird how doubt works, too. One moment, I'm on top of the world, knowing I can do this, and in a breath I'm in the gutter of doubt. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I completely agree. This is why I'm so big on writers supporting other writers. This industry is tough and we need the support.

      Delete
  5. Great post, Kelly. I think we all experience this. It's like a cycle. Because writing is such an iterative process, we know the struggle going from draft to finished product (for me it's shorter stories). When you get feedback on something finished and begin on something else not finished, the doubt is normal I think.

    I read this one book, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. It makes me think of writing the next draft. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't heard of that book, but I love the title. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  6. Even with my larger-than-normal feet, my doubt is frequently too big to kick to the curb. I need a crane.

    It's comforting, though, to be reminded that doubt comes to everybody now and then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely everyone. No one is safe, no matter how much success he or she has.

      Delete
  7. The last time doubt kicked me to the curb? Yesterday and that is only because I just woke up an hour ago. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, Karen! You're supposed to kick doubt to the curb, not the other way around. Kick it!

      Delete
  8. Some days are worse than others :) Today seems like a good day.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I experience doubt every single day! As soon as my picture book was published, I wondered if it was a fluke and have still been wondering that! But you are right, we must kick it to the curb or it will end up taking us over. I don't intend to let that happen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not a fluke, Allyn. Kick that thought to the curb!

      Delete
  10. I hate doubt. It's insidious, and does nothing for my morale. :) I last experienced it a week ago, right after I got back from my trip, and no thoughts were coming. I was like, "This is it. Who am I kidding? I'm not a writer!"

    Thankfully, I didn't really believe it and grimmed my way forward. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you, Kat. You definitely are a writer. :)

      Delete
  11. Great post. I feel this way about marketing my book. The process feels so overwhelming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, marketing. That definitely can get you down. Chin up though. Think of all the people who would just like to be able to say they've published a book. You've done that. :)

      Delete
  12. Great post and one for every writer to keep in mind. Doubt makes us strive harder to be our best.

    ReplyDelete
  13. A long time ago (now it seems, but it was not in ancient times)a friend who lost the person dearest to him in the world told me he kicked the 'paralyzing blues' off every single day by putting one foot in front of the other. He had to battle this for many years, and he came up on the other side to live life again.
    So this is how I tackle doubt, and all other currents that threaten to paralyze- I work through them, not letting anything but the immediate task at hand get my attention, until it passes.
    Doubt is an ever-present undercurrent. I suppose that unless your bar is very low, it cannot be otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That does put things into perspective, doesn't it?

      Delete
  14. How about two minutes ago? Or last night? Then there was the day before that and . . . Well, doubt is just part of my process. When I tell myself, "This sucks!" I get busy and rewrite, hoping my crit partners won't think I can't write at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure they wouldn't think that, Lee. I get what you're saying though.

      Delete
  15. I fall into it on occasion, usually when I'm really tired, which brings out the worst in me. The perfect antidote? A good night's sleep followed by a long work day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know last week I was up late writing and I felt like what I was writing was awful so I stopped and went to bed. The next morning I reread what I'd written (out of curiosity) and it wasn't bad at all. I had doubted myself for no reason. So I agree that being tired does bring out feelings of doubt--at least for me.

      Delete
  16. I have doubt every single day. Especially when my husband thinks I do nothing but "waste my time" on the internet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I can relate. My husband is very supportive of my writing, but when it comes to social networking, he doesn't get it. He thinks I'm wasting my time and just playing around. I can't make him understand that it's time well-spent.

      Delete
  17. The inconsistencies are what trouble me too; somedays I'm ON, other days it feels like I re-edit the same scenes and they only get farther from what I want.

    You're right that discipline is key and we can only move forward if we press ahead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Over editing can be killer. That's when you know doubt has crept into your head. So many times I'll over edit and then realize what I'm doing and go back to what I had originally, which was actually better.

      Delete
  18. Great post Kelly. Marketing is kicking me around. It's so daunting. Sometimes I just don't think I can do it. But it's something I have to do. Who knows, I might even be good at it ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marketing is tough. It's fun at first but it can get overwhelming very quickly.

      Delete
  19. Your blog post is a good reminder to not let our doubts stop us from writing and creating.

    ReplyDelete
  20. great post! i think every writer struggles with this--being a poet, i sometimes wonder if its worth all the work, when hardly anyone reads poetry--but then my love for the craft reminds me to keep going =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet you'd be surprised by how many people read poetry. I know a lot of people who love it. But yes, the love of the craft is a great driving force.

      Delete
  21. It happens to all of us at some point or another... the best thing is either kicking it to the curb or growling at it and telling it to bugger off.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Was struggling with a synopsis last few weeks. Then there was this great site somebody posted: http://www.bethanderson-hotclue.com/workshops/writing-the-tight-synopsis/ that helped me SO much.

    I believe if we keep plugging along, the universe will give us what we need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Persistence does win out in the end.

      Delete
  23. Almost every day I have doubts. But I'm stubborn and determined to keep on trying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that determination is what counts. :)

      Delete
  24. Doubt creeps up pretty often- but as long as we over come it then we don't get bogged down by it. I like how you just kept writing- that is what I do, toio! Sometimes it takes a couple days for me to be satisfied with what I am writing- but I always feel better! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here. Writing helps me overcome it every time.

      Delete
  25. Constantly - I have to be ever vigilant against doubt. I've started to get immune to it. I tell myself I'm just not listening to it anymore!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could just tune it out. Most days I can, but it usually creeps up on me eventually.

      Delete
  26. That would be yesterday. I feel like I fight with it almost every day.
    I fall, then I get up and keep going. It's the only way :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it must make us stronger, don't you think? We keep getting back up. :)

      Delete
  27. You're awesome! I needed this today.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This post made me smile, because That is something I mentioned twice yesterday. I am not a writer, and never thought of becoming one, and when 20 days ago I started a blog, I thought it was for one post and just for fun. when I read any comment saying that it is beautifully written, with any word of encouragement I am getting, doubts are coming to ruin the pleasure I can get out of it, so I ask my friends: are you serious? Is it really at least nice? are you just saying that to give me a smile?. My questions offended my friends, but my doubts are real, and I honestly need an objective criticism <3

    ReplyDelete
  29. As you've told me before, it's part of the process. You're right - just write. I read (I believe in Stephen King's book on writing) that for writer's we get the same feelings every time we sit down to start a new book. Can we do it? We struggle with our doubt and some never get past it. I know we all have it -- i've certainly tackled the issue a few time in life. I suppose it's down to a writer's resolve. Write past it and maybe somewhere in, maybe on page 50 or 75 what was worrying the writer will be sitting at the curb all alone wallowing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the image of doubt wallowing alone. :)

      Delete
  30. When do I not? :) I have to brush doubts away everyday. But there'll be days when I could nip the doubt before it clears its throat. So those are my good days, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, those are good days. Though, any day you get rid of doubt is good.

      Delete
  31. I'm working on my doubt right now. I just submitted a MS and I'm worried that it won't be as good as PODs...what if they don't like it? What if, like you said, PODs was a fluke? Doubt is filling my mind right now and I'm not sure how to get rid of it except to keep writing. And keep my fingers crossed about the new MS.

    Michelle
    PODs, June 4, 2013
    www.michelle-pickett.com

    ReplyDelete
  32. Michelle Pickett has left a new comment on your post "Doubt and How I Kick it to the Curb":

    I'm working on my doubt right now. I just submitted a MS and I'm worried that it won't be as good as PODs...what if they don't like it? What if, like you said, PODs was a fluke? Doubt is filling my mind right now and I'm not sure how to get rid of it except to keep writing. And keep my fingers crossed about the new MS.

    Michelle, you were the phantom post this week. I get one every week that posts to my email instead of here. LOL.
    Good luck with your MS. Did you sub to SHP?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Kelly, I think every writer has doubts. If we didn't we'd all be egomaniacs! I have to put my doubts aside most days. However I have to say, the enjoyment of writing outweighs the doubts. Thanks for stopping by my blog, by the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. The enjoyment far outweighs the doubts.

      Delete
    2. I think what Debroah's touching on is what I ALWAYS struggle with.

      On the one hand, we should celebrate the steps we make in the right direction (i.e. My self-enforced boot camp in February 2012 for better query letters) but at the same time, not be cocky or so set in our ways that we miss valuable opportunities to help us move forward (i.e. Being open to new markets and writing that does not initially speak to my strengths, AT ALL, and often requires skills I simply struggle to learn...)and all that patience which comes with any of it.

      Maybe because the pressure of the "Class Act First Impression" and persistent in the face of rejection, it's hard to recapture the joy I sometimes fear is gone indefinitely, it's not, but it can and does go AWOL for a LONG time.

      Sometimes, I feel there isn't a balance to be achieved at all!

      It's like your self-confidence has to border on (If not outright CROSS...)"Egomaniac" levels to not be overly self-critical, yet flexible to change without crossing over into "Doormat Syndrome."

      You can also feel weak and pathetic when you let self-doubt overly cloud your thinking and cripples your ability to press on.

      I know Kelly and everyone who commented here fights this doubt and losing one's resolve (You parents really put me to shame...I mean that as a compliment) and it feels wrong that I'm having such a hard time, but

      It just feels so psychotically esoteric, even if it's not, to achieve this balance, and I hope that makes sense to someone other than me.

      But yes, the enjoyment outweighs the doubts and setbacks, but when you've been stuck at a point where you're just stalled (Craft or selling one's writing) it's hard to stay committed, even if you're not tempted to quit, as I sadly have been, especially last year.

      Delete
    3. Taurean, I think as long as you feel the enjoyment is outweighing the doubts and setbacks, you are going to be fine. I know it's not always easy to focus on the positives, but sometimes we have to force ourselves to.

      Delete
  34. It just surfaces every so often, doesn't it? It loves to creep in to my mind.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have to kick doubt to the curb every time I want to write. The only time doubt isn't killing me is during NaNoWriMo. Maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should try fast drafting all the time then. I never thought I'd be able to fast draft but now I love it.

      Delete
  36. Ooh, I love fast drafting. Which actually helped me lock Mr. Doubt out in the yard today as I worked on a new ms.Which I needed, because last week was a nice little Mr. Doubt and Me pity party. If only we could break up forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be nice to break up with doubt forever, wouldn't it? I'm glad fast drafting helped you. :)

      Delete
  37. Very encouraging, Kelly. I've been stuck trying to plot a novel, was ready to toss it, and then one morning, without warning, I had a breakthrough. Not finished yet, but beyond the current impasse!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Congrats. It's great that you were able to stick it out until you had that breakthrough. :)

      Delete

I love comments, but not spam. All spam will be deleted.