Positive Writer

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Invaluable Advice From Seth Godin Every Writer Needs to Read

Writers the world over have suffered through unbearable self-doubt and many have overcome it long enough to write words that matter. But some haven’t. And some believe they never will. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Does it?

Seth Godin Doubt Writing

The Way

Too many writers have given in to doubt and have given up the dream of writing their story, and yet they too can overcome doubt to write words that matter.

The challenge of doubt isn’t something you face just once or twice; it’s a life long struggle. You can’t just endure it and let it control your writing future. You must take control of it. If you want to be a writer who writes.

You must find the will and the way to diminish doubt.

We all want to put pen to paper and create, and each morning we wake up with the goal to do just that, but all too often we stop ourselves before we even start.

And unfortunately, if you’re anything like I was, you’re not sure what specifically you can do about it.

Ah, but I am sure if you think about it a little, you’ll realize that’s what makes our craft so special, because not just anyone can do it. Not just anyone can wield the power of the pen.

There’s a lot more we can do about doubt than most of us realize.

You’re a writer.

You were always meant to be a writer. You know that.

But that knowledge, that affirmation, that commitment, it’s not always enough.

Is it?

The knowing

It’s helpful to know in your heart of hearts that you were always meant to write, but it’s not always enough.

And worse, sometimes you wonder if it’s true. So you ask yourself things like:

Was I truly meant to be a writer?

Am I lying to myself?

Is my heart of hearts being honest with me or just telling me what I want to believe?

And down you go. You spiral out of control.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t.

Writer’s Doubt

That’s why I wrote Writer’s Doubt.

But who am I to write a book about overcoming Writer’s Doubt? I’m no Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, or Seth Godin.

I’m no one famous. I’ve never been on the New York Times Bestseller list. And perhaps I never will be…

Just who the hell do I think I am?

That’s doubt talking. It’s so easy to fall into doubt’s trap and believe our words don’t matter.

Your. Words. Matter.

They do. Don’t they? Of course. Right?

The Project Killer

A reader and good friend, Anne Peterson (author of Broken), recently sent me a quote by Seth Godin from one of his recent blog posts:

Doubt is the project killer, and investing in diminishing that doubt is time well spent.

–Seth Godin (Tweet This Quote)

Of course, Seth’s post had absolutely nothing to do with my book. Anne sent me the quote because it reminded her of Writer’s Doubt and she wanted to send a little extra validation my way. (Thank you, Anne. Everyone can use a little extra validation from time to time.)

Seth’s words are an important reminder to all writers that we, as creatives, as artisans, as people, we must spend time diminishing our doubts. If we don’t, doubt can and will stop us.

Doubt is the project killer.

Every writer needs to know this because too often we stop and blame everything else, from the weather to the position of the moon, even our muse, everything and anything except the real culprit.

And once identified, doubt can be overcome.

If you’re so inclined, repeat after me:

I’m a writer. I write. – I start. I finish. And I ship.

That’s what writers do.

(You can tweet that if you like.)

Make no mistake, writing is hard work and overcoming doubt, even diminishing it, is even harder work. It’s a job that’s never done. But it’s worth it.

Any love affair is work and if you love your craft, then you’ve got what it takes.

You do.

Now go, get back to work and write words that matters. We need them.

How are you diminishing your doubts? Share in the comments.

PS: I’d love to hear about your latest project, how about telling us about it in the comments? And if you have a link to it, feel free to share that too.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins



  • You already know I loved the quote by Seth. Great post. have to share. Thanks for the mention of my book.

    • You’re welcome, Anne. And feel free to share quotes with me anytime. 🙂

  • Bryan – Please, please keep firing off these marvelous encouragements. They are so needed; they dilute and eradicate that which is bent on keeping us, AS WRITERS, from doing what we are meant to do – MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

    My goal has been to blog consistently (2x per week) for one year (started in July) as a means of counteracting doubt.

    I do not have any projects yet (in terms of a book) however one is formulating and I am taking steps toward getting the ball rolling.

    My latest blog entry follows:


    • I’ll do that, Bruce. And thanks for being such a supporter of Positive Writer. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Charles Ray

    I banish doubt by writing, even when I don’t particularly feel like writing. I find that once the words start to flow I become immersed in the story, and the doubt fades into the background.

  • I started a blog with an end goal of getting published in national magazines. The unexpected thing was learning that I WAS making progress, even when I didn’t feel like it. Normally doubt would have set in – “I’m not getting anywhere” “Maybe this wasn’t meant to happen” – and I would have given up. Again.

    But the impending weekly posts read by a few writing friends forced me to really think and come up with positive milestones. Sometimes it was nothing more than noting an editor took the time to give a personal rejection (!), or a believing friend had gifted me with a conference. That really helped. It took a year, but I did finally get published in a national magazine. (Whoot!)

    The other thing that’s been helpful is taking classes. Not so much for the information, but for the extra support and guidance from an instructor when you get stuck or discouraged.

    • You know, Colleen, you’re so right. It cannot be underestimated how important support and guidance is, especially to a budding writer. And congratulations on getting published in a national magazine!! Which magazine? If you have a link to share, I’d love to read it.

      • Thanks! It was in the (now defunct) Byline. Life Happened soon after the publication, and several years later, I’m trying to get back to that confident place I’d finally reached. A link to the scanned piece is at http://writefromhomemom.com/Content/Byline.jpg Hoping to add some current credits soon 🙂

  • Marianne Kesler

    Loved the line: “I’m a writer. I write. I start. I finish. I ship.” Once heard a similar sentiment for songwriters (I am both a songwriter and writer) “Write. Submit. Forget” … and then we do it again! Thanks Bryan! And my blog entry for the contest on Writer’s Doubt is at: http://www.mariannekesler.com/blog/the_doubt_cycle/

    • Super, Marianne! Thank you for sharing. Btw, this is a great line:

      “Doubt is, it comes, it goes; but it doesn’t have to conquer!”


      • Marianne Kesler

        Thanks so much Bryan – thanks for taking the time to read 🙂

  • Matthew

    Well, I took the advice in your book and wrote out the first half of my life story. Now I have no idea what to do with it. I don’t think I want to go the self pub route, but I’m not sure how stellar blogging it out will be either. Dilemma for certain.

    • Wow, what an awesome accomplishment, Matthew! To be honest that more than 90% actually do. They say 80% of the population want to write a book, but less than about 10% do. So, my suggestion is to first congratulate yourself. What stalls a lot of writes is looking ahead to the end result and how it will be used or sold. First, finish the project. Let it breathe and allow yourself time. Who knows, it may be that you’re writing it for yourself and that most often is the most important part of writing our stories. What comes next is secondary. Take your time on deciding.

      Again, huge kudos, congratulations. Keep writing!

    • Marr

      My husband is continuing to write his life story and other writings. He uses the print on demand feature to have individual copies of his works sent to him after completing a new portion of them. He likes having the option of reading his manuscripts in book form.

      • Marr

        You could use the self-publishing features in preparation for however you decide to publish. In the meantime you have the option of what you do have completed in book form.

  • Sindhu S

    I like your posts. I have subscribed to them. However, I am disappointed when I see “That’s what writer’s do.” The apostrophe in that sentence is wrong! (It should be “That’s what writers do.”).
    I do not like to be the one holding the brickbat when everybody else here is handing you bouquets. Sorry if I offended you!

    • lol No worries…I’m sure if you didn’t want to hold the brickbat you would have replied via email. 🙂

      • Sindhu S

        Oh! Didn’t think of sending a mail at all. Really silly of me. On hindsight, I should have. Believe me – I am extremely wary of criticizing anybody either privately or publicly. 🙂

        • It’s okay, Sindhu! Just kidding with you. I appreciate the head’s up.

          • Sindhu S

            Have sent you a mail. Will you check?

  • Writing frequently is far and away the easiest way to kill writer’s doubt. Each published post is a small victory 😉 Thanks Bryan!

  • I wrote about my day on Monday but in so doing a young woman caught my eye on the tube going home. I then had a go about writing a short story about her, but it needs work, but I’ll get there. Good article.

  • Ashley

    I sometimes have doubt and it keeps me from doing what I love. This is a great post.

  • Janelle Keith

    Yes, Amen, Agreed, 100% been there, live there camp out there. Just last week the voice of doubt was shouting “you have nothing to share” and the nail in my writers coffin was…”your story isn’t big enough”. I spiraled emotionally but then….once I hit bottom I bounced back with…

    For the rest of the story you will have to wait, I love to leave my readers wanting more. Entering your contest soon with the bounce back story!


  • Superb post!