Writer’s Doubt: Genuinely Excited and Scared to Death

I’m not sure what scares me more – failure or success.

Elmwood CemeteryWriter’s doubt creeps in when I least expect it. Everything can be going good, and then BAM! It always catches me off guard. It reminds me that I’m not perfect, and in an odd way, keeps me humble. Yet, I still dread the feeling. I even experienced doubt while writing this blog entry. Am I worthy enough to share my experience? Is my doubt too insignificant to matter? All sorts of similar questions popped into my head.

I literally just released my first book, “Monster Girl“, a little over a week ago and, while I feel fairly good about it, I’m scared to death that the next book will not be as good. Here I am worrying about the next book when I could be celebrating my first major accomplishment. Writing “Monster Girl” was a wonderful experience that I hope I have the chance to experience many more times.

However, writing it was not without its problems. I had all sorts of self doubt during the process. One of the biggest hurdles I knew I’d face was simply finishing the first draft. It’s not that I have a problem with following through with something, but rather, I was scared it wasn’t good enough to finish. But I pushed through. It was a goal of mine to see a book published this year. Now that I have, doubt is creeping back in. The thought of having to follow “Monster Girl” up with something better, or at least equal to, is terrifying. It’s almost stalling.

What if the story doesn’t come?

Like Stephen King stated in “On Writing“, story is like a fossil that we writers are tasked with uncovering. I’m a big believer in trusting the story, but what if I don’t have the right tools to uncover it? What if my brushes from the first book are broken or lost? Doubt loves to rear its ugly head.

How do I combat doubt?

Just like in adventurous movies and novels, I take my doubt-slaying sword and hack away until there is so little there that my reasoning is back in control. It’s human nature to worry, to doubt. But it’s also human nature to overcome.

To combat doubt, I have to remind myself of a few things:

1. That I’m writing a story that I would want to read, and that not everyone will love what I do. And that’s okay. As long as I’m proud of what I did, and I did my best, I’m happy. The bonus of having someone else like it is icing on the cake.

2. That I must make sure I give my 110% because anything less is not strong enough to withstand doubt’s pressures. I accept that I’m not perfect, but I do have to at least try.

3. That I must have fun.

Have fun writing? Yes!

Such a simple statement, yet one that is so easily overlooked or forgotten. Sure, we’d all like to make a living from our writing, but I believe that if I’m not having fun doing it, it’s just like any other job. Writing is more than a job. It’s an excuse to go to magical places and to bring others along with us. It’s an escape from the mundane or troublesome times. Writing is not doubtful; it’s fun.

Self-publishing can be a wild and scary ride. Being scared only means I care, and being excited about doing it means I love sharing magical worlds with others. We all feel doubt, but we’re not alone. There are others like us out there. Now, I have another book to write and some doubt that needs slaying. Feel free to share your own doubts and perhaps we can slay them together.

(I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer.)

Val O. Morris likes to pretend the monsters aren’t real. She is a filmmaker turned author who writes Urban Fantasy, Horror, and YA. A Monster Kid since birth, she loves all things ghosts, goblins, slashers, demons, monsters, zombies, madmen, werewolves, vampires, and freaky little kids who live in the corn. She invites you to come for the monsters and stay for the story.