by Kathy Harris
Fear. It can paralyze. And no one knows that better than a writer who is filled with self-doubt. We may sit down to put words on the paper, but nothing comes out. Or, even worse, we may not sit down at all.
If you’ve ever had this happen, you’re not alone. Almost every writer will deal with self-doubt at one time or another. And it’s not just a problem for newbies. Multi-published authors will tell you that they often face the same fear when they begin a new work.
There’s nothing more intimidating than a blank page, but there are things we can we do to help win the battle over doubt. Here are six of them.
Make a list. Using the Rule of Threes, list the three things you most want to convey to your reader through your current work-in-progress. Not only will this help you write to the end, it will help you remember what excited you about your story in the first place.
Revisit (or refresh) your writing goals. If you’ve set your goals too high, give yourself a break. Maybe you can’t write 1000 words a day, but you can write 500. Or even 50. Remember, it was the tortoise who won the race—and you can too.
Forget perfectionism. Before you sit down to write, think through your opening line. Once that’s on paper, write with abandon. Let your characters—and your story—surprise you. Play with the rhythm of your words. Use creative license to tell your story in an unusual way. You could be the fresh voice who changes the state of the industry.
At the recent Art of Writing Conference in Nashville, Dan Balow, CEO and Publisher of Gilead Publishing, noted, ‘It’s always something creative, not marketing, that saves the market.’ Don’t be afraid to follow your personal path.
Don’t procrastinate. Give yourself permission to write. Make writing a priority and accept that other things may have to take an occasional backseat. Your house may not be as clean as you like. And your meals may not be made-from-scratch. There will be time for that after your work-in-progress—or just the first chapter—is completed.
If you’re a chronic procrastinator, try setting a deadline. Better yet, make a word count commitment to someone who will keep you accountable. I love deadlines (really!). Especially when they’ve been set by someone else. If an agent, an editor, or a crit partner has given you a deadline, it’s because they believe you can accomplish it. Let that inspire you! Take the challenge.
Find a critique partner. Or join a critique group. No one can encourage a writer like another writer. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself.
Be thankful. Remember the One you serve and be thankful for the gift of writing. If God has placed a dream in your heart, He has given you the ability—and He has an intended purpose for your work. Be grateful for your calling and the opportunities you have through it, whether that’s communing with other writers or inspiring readers.
Now, I’ve shared my tips… It’s time for you to share yours. What do you do to jumpstart your writing process?Six Tips for Defeating Self-Doubt as a Writer! @DivineDetour #ACFWBlogs #amwriting http://www.acfw.com/blog Click To Tweet
Kathy Harris writes women’s fiction and romantic suspense. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency. Read Kathy’s blog or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Great advice, Kathy. I, too, like deadlines because it keeps me on my toes and into my writing. My jump start is prayer and asking the Lord to give me the words to write that day. He hasn’t failed me yet. I had the best critique partners when I started out and they still help me today after nearly 20 years of friendship.
Great point, Martha! Prayer is the perfect start.
These are really good. I joke that I have a Ph.D. in Procrastination. A lot of the time when I sit down to write, I feel paralyzed and I know it’s self-doubt. It’s good to remember that I can take baby steps. I’ll get there.