Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Stop Self-doubt from Stealing Your Time

Self-doubt plagues many writers. Even bestselling authors like Cody McFadyen suffer from it. In an article he wrote for The Tome Traveller's Weblog, he said, “…the day to day act of sitting down and making the words appear … is a doubt-fueled activity.”

The trouble with self-doubt is that it is like an annoying parrot sitting on your shoulder constantly squawking, “You’re not good enough, bra-c-k.” Worse than that, we believe it—which leads us to procrastinate instead of sitting down to write.

Is there anything you can do to stop it?

You bet there is! Let’s talk about how you can silence that squawking parrot and end the cycle of self-doubt that steals your time.

Set Realistic Goals

So much depends on our ability to set realistic goals. We’ve discussed setting goals using the S.M.A.R.T. method in the past.

Unobtainable goals feed self-doubt. Discouraged by disappointing results, you begin to think you’re not up to the task, when the true problem lies in not setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Once you begin using the S.M.A.R.T. method, you’ll find how much easier it is to obtain your goals, which motivates you to keep going.

Accept Horrible First Drafts

Whether you’re writing your next article or beginning the first chapter of a novel, the writing will not be perfect. Let the words flow off your fingertips and don’t waste time analyzing each word. If you get stuck, insert a little note to remind you of what you want to place there and move on.

Stopping to analyze your writing encourages self-doubt. Expecting even your first draft to be perfect will stifle creativity, and you will find yourself making excuses not to sit down and write.

Get Rid of Negative Self-talk

If there is one thing I am guilty of, it is negative self-talk. At this point, I don’t even realize what I’m saying, but when I hear my daughter shout in frustration, “Oh, I’m so stupid!” I know exactly where she gets it’s from.

Speaker, author, and life coach Judi Moreo wrote an article titled, "How to Develop Charisma." She states that in order for you to make a change, you have to stop putting yourself down. She suggests using regular positive affirmations to help build your confidence. Instead of saying, “I’m not good enough,” say “I can do this!”

Don’t think you’re guilty of negative self-talk? Carry around a voice recorder for a day or two and record yourself while you write. Listening to it might be an eye-opening experience.

Overcome Your Weaknesses

Many writers are stronger in some areas than others. I used to feel more comfortable writing non-fiction because I struggled with showing versus telling. That didn’t mean, however, that I could not write fiction. I simply had to work harder at it.

Many colleges and universities offer writing courses. In addition, the Internet has opened up the door for writers to take online courses to hone their craft. Improving those areas you struggle with will make you more confident in your abilities.

Ask Others for Constructive Feedback

We are often our own worst critics. Whether you write with a partner or join a critique group, constructive feedback can go a long way to ending that cycle of self-doubt. Local communities and libraries often have writer’s groups. You can also find online groups.

Self-doubt isn’t all bad. It encourages us to improve our work. There is a fine line, however, between letting self-doubt help you and allowing it to control you.

Using the tips found here, you can end the controlling aspects of self-doubt and be more productive than ever.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of four children’s books including, A Christmas Kindness, released by 4RV Publishing. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at and her children’s book blog at


  1. The struggle is real. Thank you for this post. Much needed!

  2. You're welcome, Karin. I totally understand. It is a challenge not to doubt ourselves.