How to Deal with DOUBT

We all know how doubt can be debilitating. Well, maybe not all- narcissists and less sophisticated primates are never plagued with doubt… so I’ll try again: we all should have some idea how deadly doubt can be… but equally how much we need it in writing. Because we need doubt to propel us to ruthlessly edit our messy manuscripts; we need to pick out our flaws and correct them. I for one like to take all my doubts out the drawer periodically and hold them in my hand until they grow so heavy that I feel like I’m sinking into a quicksand of doom and despair… or maybe that’s just me?

Okay, maybe that’s not the healthiest way to deal with doubt. There are better, tried and tested ways of dealing with doubt, like…


crying orangutan

Singing super cheesy anthems at the top of your lungs.

Power through- just hope those little voices inside your head go. away.


POWER THROUGH EVEN MORE- this means ruthlessly editing a gazillion times, writing more and more and more…

bad writing gig

Read books by professionals and feel bad about it (aka chewing yourself out by convincing yourself you will never live up to those insane standards you set yourself)

pretending to read

Well, that wasn’t so bad. But we can do better than that…

Note that *CONGRATS* feeling doubt is a totally normal part of the process for any creative person.

thumbs up

Note that books on the shelves have been edited by professionals and it’s okay if you’re not up to that standard (yet).

choose books

Note that it’s a process and you’re getting there (just think about how crap you were when you started and you’ll feel better, I promise 😉).

think happy thoughts.gif

Note that there’s always more room for more books in the world. Think of all those libraries and bookshops that need stocking with new stories!

book love belle

Note that it’s okay to take breaks- you don’t have to power through all the time- seriously, it’s okay to take breaks!

orangutan on a beach relaxing0003

And if none of this has helped, then…

Eat ice cream (and bananas) because this will always help. Always.

banana split

Actually, go do that anyway! Do you think any of these will be helpful? How do you deal with doubt? Let me know in the comments!

41 thoughts on “How to Deal with DOUBT

  1. I have been doubting about a good answer to this question. All I could think of is that self doubt is very much an ego thing where many factors play a role. Self-assessment is a tricky thing. I also eat a lot of ice-cream. Especially when I compare my work to that of Nobel-prize winners.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ah, the quicksand of doom and despair… I know it well! Powering through and eating too much chocolate are my favourite ways of dealing with doubt, but I like the sound of ice cream and bananas too…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great topic. All mature people doubt themselves. The hope is that you doubt your own strength of character, but not basic things like the existence of reality and the reliability of sense perceptions … but wait, I digress. You were talking about doubt in the creative process.

    I don’t experience doubt when I’m drafting, usually. That’s when I experience grandiosity. It’s when I go back for revisions and edits and I read a sentence and go, “What did I even mean by that?”, that the doubts start. And then when I start dangling my work in front of agents only to have them yawn and turn away, cat-like, that I really start to doubt myself. Mostly thinking I should have done more doubting sooner, because maybe I sent off a half-finished product, because even though I think it’s great, everyone says you need 5000 revisions and I haven’t been keeping track.

    As others on this thread have said, Anne Lamott is great for this. As is ice cream. As is taking breaks, because the well will always fill up again.

    And I do appreciate your point about the world needing more books, because whether or not it needs my book is the biggest doubt of all. I finally had to say to myself, “This is what I’ve been given to give to others. It’s all I have to give. Take it or leave it.” Something like that.

    Sorry for the long comment. Ask a fellow writer, get a wordy answer …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Really agree with you there- for me it’s logical to doubt what you do, especially as the alternative is far worse (although, of course, not a fan of doubting reality… sadly some people seem to get that the other way round and don’t doubt themselves, but doubt reality… but that really is a digression 😉 )

      That’s really interesting to hear- I think a lot of writers definitely vacillate between grandiosity and doubt- I feel like I often have the two in tandem at times in both drafting and revision (also, I’m one of those freaks who sometimes edits as I go, which doesn’t help with doubt 😉) Ahh I definitely relate to fearing sending off an unfinished product- especially cos it gets to the point where you’ve no idea how many times you’ve even edited the thing! (and was it maybe better three drafts back?! Or does it need a complete overhaul now and I can’t see it!? 😉 those are my worries at least 😉)

      I’m definitely gonna have to check out Lamott then!!

      Oh yeah, I one hundred percent believe that- 1) because as a reader I always need more books and I hate to think of amazing books not reaching shelves because of doubt! And 2) because I often think “does anyone even need this?” when I’m writing- and the answer every time is that *I need it*, and that’s really enough of a reason to keep at it 😉

      No worries! I loved reading your thoughts on this! Sorry if I got rambly in response 😉


  4. Powering through, taking a break, gathering inspiration from other sources, and a good run have helped me so much in the past! I find that doing any (or all) of these things helps clear that stubborn cloud of doubt from my mind and get me back on track. Ice cream solves everything 😉 (Or a nice cup of tea hehe)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the great advice! I usually deal with doubt by powering through or reminding myself of my accomplishments. When those don’t work, and I feel like I’m not good enough, I just add one word to the end of my doubts…”yet”. I say I’m not good enough YET, or I’m not a real writer YET. Then I go find a way to improve.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes to all of this!! My go-to method to dealing with any doubt or negativity, in general, is a massive sing-a-long to the most feel-good songs, dance the negativity away, and if it’s been a particularly bad case of doubt, get those power ballads on and sing my heart out haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Doubt? Never heard of it – must be some outlandish idea.😄 I mean – how could I not be the most wonderful person, artist, writer, musician…? 😁 I really pity those who feel doubt – must be awful. 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

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