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Writing Pitfalls: Doubt and Discouragement

by Andrea Lundgren (originally posted on

This is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog-hop, designed to help encourage authors and foster discussions about writing topics across the internet and the world. This month’s question is “What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

At first, I wasn’t sure which pitfall to talk about—the challenge of finding time to write, the struggles of getting published, the difficulties of finding your voice…but after reading Pure Vision’s post about the struggle of writing, I decided to write about the pitfall of self-confidence (and the lack thereof).

As a general rule, we writers don’t seem to suffer from an overabundance of self-confidence. If we are confident in ourselves as writers at first, armed with that first manuscript or story idea, it only takes a rejection letter from an agent or a bad review to deflate our balloon.

And sometimes, it doesn’t even take that long. We just need some time away from the project to come back with fresh eyes and be horrified with what we’ve written. So, since the pitfall of not having self-confidence is almost bound to happen, this post isn’t so much about avoiding it as offering some ideas of how to cope with it and regain your sanity and self-worth.

Don’t believe every doubt. This is definitely easier said than done, but we have to remember that every reader is different. Every agent is different, every publisher, every author. You are even different on different days, so what may seem awful to one person (or yourself on a bad day) might actually not be bad. It could be the spark of something great, and it might just need polishing. It might need to be reworked, reworded, or placed in an entirely different story, but what you’ve written isn’t trash. It’s the start of a beautiful plant called “your writing career,” and just like some plants start out looking like weeds, so some writers don’t look great to begin with—but if you let doubts dig you up and uproot your stringy, fragile self, you’ll never be able to grow the way you were made to.

Treasure the positive feedback. When someone says something nice about your writing, don’t get embarrassed or push it away. Find people who know what they’re talking about and who give you positive feedback as well as constructive criticism, and then hold on to the good. Remind yourself of it. Print it and put it on your fridge, on your walls. Every time you doubt, cling to it, for it will be like water to your fragile seedling of a writing self at times (or, if you’ve been at writing a while, the drink of water your need to sustain the limbs and leaves you’ve sprouted).

Believe in yourself. Plants don’t grow by dwelling on darkness. They seek the light. They put the gloom of night behind them and push forward. Similarly, you might just need you to believe in yourself, as so many publishing success stories show, where a book got rejected time and again only to finally find someone who believes in it. Then, the book takes off and finds tons of readers who also believe in it, until the “doubters” have to admit they’ve made a mistake.

Don’t give up. As long as you’re still writing, you’re a writer. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve written that hasn’t been published, how many bad drafts you have to your name and how much you’ve had to rewrite. If you still are writing, you’ll get there. The only true “writing failure” are those who let go of the dream and give up, who uproot the “plant” or chop down their “writing tree” and use it for firewood. You might not be successful yet. You might not have that many sales (or any), and you might not have finished a story, but as long as you’re dedicated to your craft and willing to grow, there’s no saying how far you’ll go.

Guest post contributed by Andrea Lundgren. Andrea enjoys books and all things writing–from how we write to why we write–and her blog explores things from a writer’s point of view. Copyright 2018 Andrea Lundgren.

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