Maybe Self-Doubt isn’t Bad

Maybe Self-Doubt isn't Bad
Image provided by Bob Blakley

As of late, I’ve been coming across hoards of articles about how we should feel about ourselves. Writers are telling me in their blog posts about how to somehow feel marvelous when I’m writing, no matter where I am in my WiP, no matter what obstacles I’m facing. Feel-good web sites are giving me advice about how to prepare to feel terrific for the entire day. Some of them read like instructions to put a model together.

I’m not believing a word I’m reading. How can I? Writing is a passion for me. This doesn’t mean I’m going to feel spectacular whenever I sit at the keyboard though. For me, passion means I’d do whatever it takes to be in the process of a WiP, and to hell with how it may be feeling at the time. There are many days when it’s grueling. I’m having to puck each sentence out of my noggin and place it on the page next to the last period, all the while wishing the ideas would flow. And expecting to be happy for the entire day is ludicrous. Especially since I’m a writer with many issues. Life is full of ups and downs. To force myself not to experience all of it is making my life less than what it can be. I just can’t imagine myself going to the dentist with a beaming smile on my face.

One of my “big” feelings is self-doubt. I’m usually in a mode of questioning myself about something. With some, it’s fear that runs them ragged. Others live days in total guilt mode over something they really didn’t have much choice in. Mine is self-doubt.

Self-doubt isn’t reserved just for those of us who write. However, as a group, I’d say we’re the most vocal about this so-called flaw. You may not want to believe it, but executives of such companies like Sony, Microsoft, General Mills, and others have this same lack of confidence and esteem going on inside them. They just don’t tell anyone. Often they aren’t even telling their significant others, whoever they may be. I, as a writer, can feel this thing in me every times I put my fingers on the keyboard. “Should I say it this way?” “Should I say it at all?” “What if I changed things around?” “Would that work or is it just as hideous as it was the other way?”

About a week ago I was thinking about this flaw in me. It came to mind while I was reworking a character profile. I had added in arrogance, narcissism, and hotheadedness for this character’s traits, but I still needed to come up with why she was that way. Any therapist is likely to tell me that the person doesn’t see herself as being terrific, engaging, and righteous. That all those rotten qualities are a facade for what she really feels inside. Her not facing what she feels is what’s wrong with her. Instead, she acts out to avoid the underlying feeling[s].

What if I faced my self-doubt about my capabilities as a writer? What would I find? I’d discover what I already know about me. I’m atrocious with spelling and vocabulary. So much so that I will not write a single word without a dictionary and thesaurus on hand. Often I don’t word sentences, and sometimes whole paragraphs, in the right order. I do a kind of cart-before-the-horse thing in a lot of cases. My attempts to be eloquent are crude. I want my writing to be lyrical, but I know the instant I read it, it’s anything but impassioned. I have a lot to doubt. I, often, wonder why I bother to try to do something in the craft at all.

Yet, it’s these marrings in my skills that make me try to write every day. They’re imperfections I can try to alleviate, if not get rid of all together–at some point in the far future–maybe. Some I’ll never ever rid myself of, and I’ll just have to come to terms with those facts and trudge forward dragging them behind me.

The doubt I wrestle with is what makes me ask the questions that, once dealt with, will improve the process in my projects. Without this uncertainty snaking up, down, and around, entwining with the story that’s in my head, my WiP would, most certainly, end up flat, boring, and completely repulsive.

Of course, I don’t want it to take over my passion. Some of what I write is okay. Sure, not spectacular, maybe not even good, but passable. I dutifully give myself a kudo–not two, just one.

A blogging friend of mine has told me she likes my “no frills” writing. Well, that isn’t anything like lyrical, is it? So be it. I do like the thought of being one of those people who is up front, straight forward, down to earth. The “no frills” thing kind goes along with that. Still, the  apprehension is there, haunting me to do better. Kind words are fine, but what is in me still prevails.

Eventually, I’ll have to push this feeling into a closet somewhere so that I can get a real sense of how I’m doing from others–in particular, an editor, or even a beta reader. Nevertheless, this emotion does have purpose for me.


Do you think of self-doubt as way to insure that you strive to be better? Or does it hang you up?

“A modern philosopher who has never once suspected himself of being a charlatan must be such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.” ― Leszek Kołakowski, Metaphysical Horror


11 thoughts on “Maybe Self-Doubt isn’t Bad

  1. Self-doubt has often been at odds with my optimistic nature. I think about things that can go wrong, or aren’t quite good enough, even as I remain confident that things will work out. It’s a curious mix, but like everything else, it’s part of me. I think you’re right, it’s in our nature to have those thoughts. With luck, we’re able to push through them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a master of self doubt. However, I’m not afraid to try something new. If I fail, I try to take the lesson I’ve learned from my perceived failure. I let it keep me from doing things but try to push it aside and step out of my comfort zone and do it anyway. What’s the worse that can happen? 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jacqui, my voice is coming out, although in spurts and stops. I think I distrust myself as a storyteller. Give me something to write where I’m either voicing my opinion or or writing something completely factual, I whip it out with a deadline attached. Put me in front of a key board to write a fictional story and I feel myself becoming unglued at times. As I said, my voice is there, just a little meek. If I could get myself to forget about all the stupid rules and leave my common sense in a vise somewhere, I’d do just fine.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Even if we are 100% confident all the time, I think that self-doubt tends to creep in. Self-doubt can be difficult at times to work through, but even though the progress is slow, it goes away. Then, of course, another bout comes around:-) Keep pushing on, Glynis! Have a pleasant balance of the weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I learned, recently, that most of the time when I feel the pang of doubt eating away at me, it’s because something isn’t right. It doesn’t always have to do with what is foremost on my mind though, even though it may seem so. The trick is to pinpoint what is really triggering it so I can deal with it.

      So glad you dropped by, Elaine. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I, too, live with self doubt. I think most people who care about what they are trying to do experience it. When it gets bad, I just focus on the task of the moment and try to work my way through the insecurities. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. When I’m really down and out, I remember what a mentor once said to me: In those situations when you can’t see your way forward, give yourself permission to suck your thumb and feel sorry for yourself for a few hours or even a day; then think about what caused those feelings, learn what you can from the experience, if anything, and get on with it. Again, it helps, but not all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not one of those who treads lightly. If I want something bad enough, I go for it as if I’m a bull in a china shop. Of course, I try as many of the go-arounds and manipulations I can think of first, but one way or another, I’m going to get what I want, self-doubt sticking to my back the entire way. Often, through all these maneuvers, I find that the doubt isn’t about what I want. It’s something else that is, sometimes, so trivial it’s ludicrous. O_o


Please comment on this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.