I never considered myself to be someone who has a problem being vulnerable. After all, I put myself out there every day—as an editor, a speaker, a teacher, a birth doula, a parent.
But my self-conception may be, like most people’s, somewhat inaccurate.
This becomes evident as I count down to the release of my next novel, What Remains Unsaid, on May 15.
Suddenly, as I review the finally proof, I fear the writing is terrible. I can’t believe I’ve had the hubris to create such a dreadful book. I can’t believe I am asking people to read it, never mind buy it and review it.
Doesn’t that make you want to rush out and pre-order a copy?
No, this isn’t some diabolical reverse-psychology marketing plan. It’s me revealing the vulnerability I didn’t think I felt. It’s me letting you know that apparent success—completing and publishing a novel—doesn’t banish the insecurities most of us harbor about our self-worth and our value to the world. It’s me exposing the creative process for what it is: a scary tightrope walk.
I’m sharing these 11th-hour doubts to let you know that you can experience them without letting them stop you. When the first feeling of oh no arose, I could have called my publisher and told her to hold the presses. I could have decided to abandon my current writing projects. But I chose to go on, to put myself and my necessarily imperfect work out into the world.
And you can, too.
Here are some ideas for conquering writing insecurity. If you’re not a writer, they work equally well for any endeavor that involves interacting with the other people.
- The Writer’s Guide to Overcoming Insecurity (Men With Pens)
- On Insecurity and Writing (Scott Berkun)
- 5 Things to Do When You Feel Insecure (PsychCentral)
- How to deal with self-consciousness and insecurity as a writer (Breakfast With Words)
- Get a Handle on Writer Insecurity (Live Write Thrive)
This also relates to a few topics I’ve covered before on this blog:
- Talk to your inner chicken (writer’s block)
- In pursuit of unbounded possibility (imagined work always beats manifest work)
- Gag order: finding the courage to speak (overcoming long-held beliefs)
And now for the buried lead
What Remains Unsaid will be released for Kindle on May 15, 2017. It’s available to pre-order right now. There. I said it.
I’ll be taking lots of deep breaths between now and then. And focusing on my work in progress, which is, of course, absolutely perfect… until it isn’t.
The last giveaway
The final giveaway is underway for a signed copy of Dance of Souls before the May launch of What Remains Unsaid. Enter now through April 22.
How do you handle doubt?
I’d love to hear.
I teach a Psychology course geared towards helping my students succeed in the workplace. It’s also helped me to deal with my inner critic. The best thing to do is acknowledge the doubt and then talk your way through it. Is it realistic? Are you catastrophizing? Are you overreacting? What’s the worst and best case scenario? What’s the likely outcome? Sometimes I confuse my inner critic with logic. But it quiets her down.
That sounds like a very useful class. Probably one that all of us could benefit from, even if our “workplace” is a home office in the corner of the bedroom.
I’m always amazed how some days we’re convinced our book is wonderful and then the next we think it’s trash. Luckily, most of the time we’re somewhere in between: we think it’s a decent read and we hope others will think so too.
Looking forward to reading your new one. Best of luck with the upcoming launch!
Thanks! It is definitely a yo-yo, ping-pong, roller-coaster kind of experience, this writing thing.
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I know that feeling too well, Audrey. The only way I know to quell it is to read reviews of my prior work.
I’m bookmarking those links you shared for future moments of self-doubt!
That’s a good idea. I’ll go back and look at some of the positive reviews for “Dance of Souls.” That should get me through the dark nights of doubt :-).
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Perfect timing for a great post! I’m so glad I’m not alone, and you articulated the doubt factor beautifully. It’s like a phantom limb, something I feel but can’t put my finger on. Thanks for the post!
I love the phantom-limb analogy. You know it’s not there but it sure feels as if it is.