7 Tips for writers to work through the self-doubt

Once upon a time, I had really, really thin skin when it came to reviews of my writings.  I would rejoice in the “I loved it” comments and break down in tears over the “I hate it” comments.  Quite frankly, if I’d never received the “I loved it” comments, I may have given up writing all together.  Let’s face it.  Some of the “I hate it” comments can be ruthless and cruel.

They were also the best reviews I ever received.

If you’re a writer like I am, you know we put our hearts and souls into our manuscripts.  They are pieces of us exposed to the world. When someone comes back with a not-so-glowing review or comment, it resonates deep within us.  We doubt ourselves and our abilities to write.  We realize just how vulnerable we are to the opinions of others.  With reviews of the Make Believe anthology coming in, (my short story THE AMULET OF ORMISEZ appears alongside 5 others), I fear my skin may not be as thick as I’d like.  While none of the reviews have been bad, I’m sure there will be some to come.  So how do I prepare for the self-doubt I’m sure will come?  Here are a few tips I’m incorporating, thanks to my fabulous beta readers and a fantastic article:  Tim Ferriss:  7 Great Principles For Dealing with Haters:

1.  Ignore the haters.  Realize not everyone is going to like what you write.  It’s inevitable.  You can’t please everyone.  Don’t try.  My story is unique. The publisher liked it and chose it out of a sea of others to publish.  That speaks volumes.

2.  Some people just won’t ‘get it’.  You may have written an amazing story with a superb plot line, but somewhere, someone is not going to understand it.  They’ll find the story confusing or lacking.  That’s okay.  There’ll be others that do ‘get it’.  They are the ones that matter.

3.  Don’t react to negativity.  Expect it and embrace it.  Ferriss states in his article that 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally.  He says “People are least productive in reactive mode.”   He recommends to expect negativity and choose your response (or lack of one) in advance, as opposed to reacting inappropriately.  Don’t commit social media suicide by reacting to negativity.  Be better than that.  Hold your head up high and remember tips 1 and 2.  Don’t make a spectacle of yourself.

4.  Remember, not everyone is out to pounce on you.  This is a big one for aspiring authors to overcome.  People aren’t waiting to destroy you.  In fact, they, themselves, are afraid of being destroyed.  You must put your work out there to gain confidence.  My suggestion:  find some great beta readers you can trust, who can be honest but kind, unafraid to point out what doesn’t work and praise you for what does.  They’ll also be a great cheering section when  1, 2 and 3 above happen.

5.  Be prolific.  Don’t fall in love with your manuscript.  Write, write, write.  Love what you write but don’t become so enamored with it you don’t let others see it, critique it, blast holes in it, or drool on it.  Shatter your ego.  It’s not about you.  It’s about the stories.  Don’t focus on one huge project. Blog. Write short stories.  Spread yourself around.  It’s amazing how quick your self-confidence goes up.

6. Write in other genres.  Yep. Step outside your comfort zone.  Explore the unknown.  How do you know if you don’t like roller coasters if you never ride them?  How do you know if you don’t like carrots if you never eat one.  Try something unknown.  You may discover you’re better at it than you thought.

7.  Submit.  Don’t be afraid to submit your stories.  Are you going to get accepted all the time?  No.  Are you going to get rejected all the time?  No, though sometimes it may feel like it.  All you need to remember is that rejection isn’t bad.  It just means your work wasn’t suited for that particular publisher.  Keep submitting.  Someone will eventually love what you wrote, believe in it, and publish it, but you have to believe in it enough to submit.

So how do you deal with fear and self-doubt?  I would love to hear your comments.