By Laurel Blount
When I was in college, the local water supply became contaminated with a particularly unpleasant parasite. Soon the infirmary was jammed with moaning students, all of us dealing with the tummy bug to end all tummy bugs. Because the illness was linked to the water system, nobody was immune. Pretty much everybody got it.
See where I’m going with this yet? No? Well, here it is:
I believe self-doubt is the stomach virus of writing careers. It sidelines us, isolates us, and exhausts us—and almost all writers suffer from it at one time or another.
I’ve suffered more than one bout myself. What about you? Are you currently battling this uber-nasty bug? Let’s take a look at the symptoms.
- Self-doubt keeps us from beginning. I hesitated to seriously pursue my writing because I thought I was too old to begin a new career. Besides, as a homeschooling, hobby-farming mom of four, I didn’t think I had enough free time to write. I was wrong on both counts. By carving out small amounts of time during the day and getting up an hour earlier. I was able to finish my debut Love Inspired novel A Family for the Farmer in five months. When I got “the call” I was two months past my fiftieth birthday. If you’ve got the “I’m too old/tired/busy” variety of doubt, go Google ‘late blooming authors.’ You’ll be inspired and amazed. Turns out, C.S. Lewis was right when he said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
- Self-doubt keeps us from continuing. As I wrote in my ACFW blog post “Surviving the Sophomore Slump,” I almost gave up while working on my second novel. Instead of seeing my struggles as a normal part of a challenging process, I seriously questioned my ability to produce another book. Self-doubt is a snowballing proposition—the more doubtful I became, the less motivated I was to write. The less I wrote, the more doubtful I became. Thankfully Georgia Romance Writers sponsored a workshop that helped me tremendously—and my second Love Inspired romance, A Baby for the Minister, was born! If you’re infected with this variation, the best antidote is to push forward, stop comparing yourself to others, and connect with a supportive writing community, either in person or online.
- Finally, self-doubt keeps us from One of my greatest frustrations when I taught foreign language was my students’ reluctance to attempt speaking Spanish because they feared making mistakes. Yet only those students willing to risk goofing up ever achieved fluency. If you’ve got the “not-quite-good-enough/afraid-to-fail” version of self-doubt, you probably need a strong dose of positive thinking. When we get rejections, bad reviews, negative editorial feedback, or see less-than-stellar sales, we can recast these disappointments as opportunities for growth and learning rather than failures. (Easier said than done, I know. Want to feel better fast? Go back and ask Mr. Google about ‘famous writers and rejections’. The only difference between those now-famous writers and their forgotten, also rejected counterparts? The well-known folks learned from their flops and kept right on going. We can too!)
That nasty parasite had no business in a college water system, and self-doubt has no place in a Christian writer’s heart. Trust God’s plan for your writing career, surrender yourself to His timing and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’ll get there. In the meantime, if you need some TLC and virtual chicken soup, you can lean on your writing community. Trust me. We all understand!Self-doubt is the stomach virus of writing careers. Need a little virtual chicken soup today? Check out this post! @laurelannwrites #ACFWBlogs #amwriting www.acfw.com/blog Click To Tweet
Award-winning author Laurel Blount lives in middle Georgia with her husband, four children and assorted spoiled farm animals. Her days are a happy whirl of writing, housekeeping, homeschooling and hobby farming. Her second Love Inspired contemporary romance, A Baby for the Minister, is available now! Find her at laurelblountbooks.com.