Self-doubt: An Authors Worst Enemy



IMG_2009Authors are plagued with self-doubt and worry over silly things.

Harper Lee, for one, threw her whole manuscript for To Kill a Mockingbird out her NYC window while editing. Fortunately, her publisher made her retrieve and finish the book. See, Fling Manuscript From the Window.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose, stated in a diary entry the she doubted her mother’s manuscript would “come to anything.” [Smith Hill, Pamela. Introduction. “Will it Come to Anything?”: The Story of Pioneer Girl] However, in an interesting twist, Rose later used her mother’s rejected Pioneer Girl to craft new novels for herself. By 1932 she and her mother had published novels base on Laura’s original adult manuscript. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name and books are still world-famous.

Authors want praise for hard work, readers to love their words. They want to make a difference in the world. But even after a book is published, garnered accolades, and the author praised, doubt returns. Why? Simple rejection by one person.

Even if multiple people have purchased, reviewed, or praised the authors work, it’s that one person who reads the back cover and walks away, or promises a review and doesn’t, who triggers an author’s fatalistic imagination.

My dear authors, hang on to your sanity! Stay focused on your goal and start a file of all the praise, awards, and encouragement you’ve received. Self-doubt is destructive liar.

How do you overcome these times?


  • How do I deal with self-doubt? Don’t read reviews. I write for my own satisfaction first of all


  • I too am often ‘palgued’ by self-doubt. I still don’t know if I’m any good at writing, but I hope one day I’ll be ‘good’ at it. It’s funny how most writers seem to doubt their abilities (or at least pretend they doubt themselves). The thing is, when a writer tells everyone ‘that they are really good at writing’ it comes off as conceited and arrogant (especially when they actually suck). Kinda a catch 22. If I was being utterly honest, I would say that I’m ‘OK’ at writing, but I really do need to improve before I have ANY hope of getting published or being recognised. I don’t mind having a ton of self-doubt in my writing abilities, as it makes me want to improve and keep growing as a writer, and I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever stop doing 🙂


  • Self-doubt is a stumbling block for all of us writers. Believe in yourself and plod on!


  • I compare books to songs. People talk about songs they like and don’t like all the time. It’s a matter of taste. It doesn’t feel exactly the same, but it’s a good enough analogy. I also don’t read reviews anymore.


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