Monday, May 16, 2011

How Do I Know I'm an Awesome Writer?

I don't.

That's the simple answer.

I do not know if I'm an awesome writer. No one does (except maybe Carrie Ryan, but I'd bet she has her off days too).

Writers are plagued by self-doubt. I don't know if it's just part of the artist personality, but we are. I don't know one writer who thinks she's (or he's) the shit twenty-four hours a day.

It's this fear that paralyzes many writers, whether they are seeking an agent, releasing their third New York Times Bestseller, or jumping into the indie pool for the first time.

What are the best ways to combat this fear?

Chain smoking at the nearest park? Drinking yourself into oblivion? Whining about how everyone else sucks because they can't see how fantastic you are?

Um, no.

You combat this fear by working your ass off. Go to workshops and conferences. Take classes. Attend critique groups. Write, write, write, and write. Be open to new ideas. Have your work critiqued by professionals and your peers. Don't publish your first novel the day after you finish writing it!!!!

Like any other successful career, writing takes hard work, determination, and indomitable spirit.

Keep this tidbit in mind too: Jane Yolen has written and published more than 300  books, won countless literary awards, and has six honorary doctorates in literature. Guess what I learned by being Facebook friends with her? This woman is probably the most legit writer in contemporary children's literature and she still gets rejected occasionally.

Rejection happens. Move on and become the very best writer you can be!


  1. "Like any other successful career, writing takes hard work, determination, and indomitable spirit".

    I agree 100% with what you have written - especially the indomitable spirit - picking yourself up, managing to sit down and write when you feel all that you type is drivel, to be warmed two weeks later on a re-read that actually it is OK - this takes courage, as it happens again and again and again. The courage of the writer is frequently overlooked.

  2. Great post! I struggle with self doubt often, but it doesn't stop me from writing.

  3. So true! I think everybody occasionally falls into the trap that "if I just get to point X, I won't have issues with self-doubt anymore." And judging by what super successful and famous writers admit, that just isn't true!

    Instead of thinking it will just go away when we're successful enough, we should focus on learning to not be thwarted by it, I think.

  4. You ladies are awesome, you know that?! :D

    It is courage (great word choice Katie No. 1) that propels writers to succeed.

  5. Thanks for the encouragement.

    This whole thing scares the wajeebies out of me.

  6. CM, it should scare you. Deciding to self-publish was one of the most frightening leaps of faith I've ever taken.

    I think the people who jump in without fear are probably the authors who drown.

  7. Nice to know I'm not the only one paralyzed with insecurity sometimes. But every writer has it, even Stephen King (just read his "on Writing"). Butt in seat, fingers to the keys. That's how books and articles get written. Not by just thinking and dreaming and hoping. :) I need to follow my own advice and then I would be further along than 40,000 words....

  8. Great post Megg. My first novel is just on it's final proof read from my editor. I'm hoping to have it out early July and the reality of e-publishing it has terrified me for the last few months. Glad to know I'm not alone lol.

    I will add this though; self doubt has helped me too. It's pushed me to work harder and - I hope - turned me into a better writer. Whether or not that's the case, only time will tell, but it's propelled me to try and conquere it with research, reading, and elbow grease.

  9. MR, fear can be a great motivator. Good for you for not giving up. I can't wait to see your book when it's out! :D

  10. Thanks for the encouragement! Self-doubt is a struggle of mine as well. I try not to think my writing "sucks" of isn't "on par" with other writers in my genre, but just to write and write the best I can and then keep writing until that improves.

    Oh and I can't believe no one commented on the video! Love it! Brought back some memories, thanks for that ;)

  11. Agree Megg,

    You can't just say i played piano for a year and wrote one composition and didn't get accepted to the elite music school :-)

    Practice practice practice

    even the best footballers still miss a goal from time to time.

    Just keep writing, you don't get any better by sitting on your arse and crying over why you didn't get your MS accepted!

    Sarah Ketley

  12. Oh and if it makes you feel any better today, i can't wait to read your next book. You must have done something right with the first !!


  13. Great Post! I only recently just self published and already have self doubt. But I just ignore everything and jump into writing. :)

  14. I love this post. Your words are wise and true. This is a very competitive industry. Not everyone will like your book, but if you have "done your homework," so to speak, it is likely that someone will be intrigued enough to pick it up and read it... and then hopefully another person will do the same thing, and then another, etc...

  15. Been rejected 10s of times, most recently from Weird Tales. Gotta keep plugging along though....