Just Keep Writing: How to Keep Writing Through Self-Doubt

“Just Keep Writing” is a series of pep talks I’m writing for myself in hopes that it will help you as well. This post was written in the summer of 2021 when I was working on my book Fight or Flight. New posts from Fearless Writing will be shared every other Wednesday.

I’m having one of those self-doubt days where I look at my writing and wonder what I’ve been doing with my life. So today I’m writing to show solidarity with all of you self-doubting writers to encourage you (and myself) to keep writing. 

I’m working on a second draft (total re-write) of a middle grade novel. I stopped the first draft at 46,000 words because I could tell the ending wasn’t going to work with what I had written. There were too many broken pieces, so I needed to re-outline and start over. 

I’m now at 50,000 words or so of the re-write, but I’m still not feeling like it’s much better. I have good days where I drill out 2500 words and feel productive, but then I have days like today where I write 500 and freeze up out of fear that I’m wasting my time with a broken story. 

But I’m not going to give up, and here’s why. 

If I don’t finish what I started and make it as good as it can be, then I’ll never learn how to revise a difficult story. 

Some stories come out nearly perfect, but others need more time to simmer. That doesn’t mean that this story is bad. It just needs more work before it becomes as good as it can be. 

Recognizing the flaws in a story is also not a sign that I’m a terrible writer. Rather, it means that I’m growing as a writer because I’m able to see when things need to be better. 

For now, I’m setting aside thoughts of publication and moving forward with the goal to just finish what I started no matter what. I may need to re-write it again, but this is sometimes what authors have to do. 

If I do this, then I will have learned how to be patient with a story and work hard at it even when it seems awful. 

I will say that I have already learned so much from my failures in this process. For instance, for this draft, I tried to focus primarily on plot with the intention of going back and fleshing out the characters and prose. But without well-developed characters and enjoyable prose, it’s hard to approach the draft with any excitement. I can take this lesson with me when I start my next book, and I’m taking that as a win. 

Thanks for reading my rants. I hope they encourage you to stay positive today.

What do you do when you feel discouraged about a draft? Let me know in the comments! 

2 responses to “Just Keep Writing: How to Keep Writing Through Self-Doubt”

  1. I agree that seeing weaknesses in your story is actually a good sign that you’re becoming a better writer. It is really not fun, though!

    If I’m struggling with self-doubt, I usually give the manuscript to my betas to read, and they can usually reaffirm that it’s headed in the right direction, or give me advice I hadn’t thought about before. But also, the last time I was well-and-truly stuck, I completely changed genres from MG fantasy to adult historical fiction, and while I was nervous at first, it turned out to be a way better fit for me.

    Good luck on your writing! I’m new to reading your blog, and it’s been a great encouragement to me!

    Liked by 1 person

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