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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Does Writer's Self-Doubt Lessen with Experience?

That's the question on my mind today as I spend these last days of April preparing my brain to launch writing of my next book beginning May 1st.  It's a sequel to the first-draft novel I just completed on March 31st.

Launching into a new story is always a near-paralyzing experience for me.  In my head are big stories.  The question always is--will those big stories in my head translate well to paper (or computer)? 

Added to the usual new book jitters is the fact that April has been a highly stressful month: I've launched in to the deep end of a much-needed but greatly terrifying course on social media--and I DO feel like I'm drowning in it.  Plus for just barely a month I've been immersed in a new quest for better physical health which means even more demands on my time due to eating healthy and making more room for exercise.

Because of the time demands of the health quest and social media, I have had very little time to sit and consciously think about the aspects of my next novel.  Oh, I have a general "This is how I want to start, and this is how I want to end," but I've had no time to do any plotting or fleshing out of characters and most definitely no time to research.

I have long been plagued with self-doubts about my ability to carry out the stories in my head.  The book I begin in May will be my third.  Yet the self-doubts haven't lessened over time.  I'm still plagued by them.  The difference this year is that I have learned to daily force myself to write anyway.  Which is both blessing and curse.  Some days you look at what you wrote and say "WOOHOO!  That's great stuff!"  But a lot more of the time, I scan what I wrote and think, "Uh! I'm going to have to dump that in the re-write.  It sucks!"

I'm filled with much uncertainty.

But of one thing I AM certain.  The self-doubts, deep as they are, aren't deep enough to make me quit writing.  So that means I've got a fighting chance. 8-)


Nicole said...

I can't shed the self-doubts even with seven done and working on three more. However, like you, not enough to make me quit so far . . .

And as inappropriate as it is, sometimes I console myself with the fact that I've read multiple published novels which I think are mediocre at best. And some bad ones. So there. ;)

Leigh said...

Good for you, Brenda, for sticking with it! Doubt, frustration, and all-out terror seem to be the standard fare for us writers (or at least for me). I admire you for getting words down every day, even if you scrap them later. That's my biggest challenge and one I'll probably never conquer completely. But we just keep on, don't we? :-)

B.K. Jackson said...

Nicole, I'm bummed on the one hand then that even after 7 novels the doubt persists, but glad the stick-to-it-ness persists as well! 8-)

B.K. Jackson said...

Leigh, I like that--"all out terror". That definitely describes how I feel on occasion as I keep chasing these novels.

On we go! 8-)

Anonymous said...


I agree with Nicole, who said she's published seven novels and still suffers doubt.

But I have even worse news.

I've been painting portraits of horses for pay for almost 40 years and I still have 'delivery anxiety' with every portrait that leaves the studio.

If I ever get to the point at which there is no such concern, it's time to put away the art supplies and find something else to stay humble over!

Like, oh, maybe, writing.

B.K. Jackson said...

Good point, Carrie. 8-)