Some people out there say they’ve never doubted themselves. These people are lying. Self doubt affects us all, but for some even more than others. As writers, often working alone, immersed in a world we’ve created without outside input, it can sometimes be a constant battle. And the worst of it is, we’re battling with ourselves! Whilst it’s good to interrogate your ideas and beliefs to an extent, you can end up paralysed with fear and even throw in the towel altogether. Here are some tips to push back on your self-doubt.
1) Give your negative thoughts a new voice
It can be difficult to fight back against that disparaging voice in your head especially when it sounds like well, you. So when you feel those doubting thoughts becoming overwhelming, re-voice them. This is the metaphorical equivalent of imagining an intimidating person on the loo! Pick someone you dislike – could be a personal “nemesis” or someone well known, as long as they “get your goat” (and yes I know disliking someone is a negative thing in itself, but we all do it so best to make use of it). Now imagine your negative thoughts voiced by that person. You wouldn’t listen to a word of it would you? In fact you’d probably tell them to do one. Which is exactly the right reaction!
2) Do what you do best – write
Writing down what’s going on in your head can be a freeing experienc as we all know. So try writing down those dominating doubts and for each one add an arguement against it e.g.
- What if no one reads it? It won’t take away from the fact you wrote it.
- Whar if I can’t finish it? Anything you write is more than not writing at all.
And so on. This can work for lots of things, not just writing. I find it especially helpful when faced with something new and my “glass half full” instinct tries to immediately warn me off doing it.
3) Share your worries
Talk about it. Yes that old chesnut. I know it seems to come up as an answer to almost every emotional difficulty, but it’s for a good reason – it’s usually super effective. The only extra advice is pick someone you trust who you know is a good listener. And if they have any advice be open to it.
4) Distract yourself
Self doubt often comes from overthinking and caught in a downward spiral that stops your creativity. So get out of your head and do something constructive that isn’t writing. Bake some cookies, paint a fence, go for a jog, play a board game. Do anything to distract yourself from your raging mind rather than following it down the rabbit hole. This helps to teach you and your mind to break that cycle.
5) Read about how others cope
You don’t have to look very hard to find authors talking about their own dealings with self-doubt. Or any artist, or sportsperson, or well anyone for that matter. Everyone has had self-doubt (even if they don’t admit it) and some of those in the public eye have spoken about what it was like for them – and often how it continues even when they become “successful”. So look up some intereviews with your favourite author (or actor, singer, skateboarder etc) and I’m sure you’ll find some where they talk about it. It’s good to remember – you are not alone.
6) Think about how you measure success
Doubt can often come from fear of failure, which itself stems from what we consider “success”. So if we re-evaluate what success looks like we re-evaluate failure and therefore our doubts become much easier to manage. Many often argue that “failure” in itself shouldn’t be a thing – you succeed or you learn. Wise words, even though I’ll admit I still struggle with this one!
So what do you think? What are your tips to fight self doubt? Share your thoughts in the comments!