Positive Writer

Write with More Confidence and Greater Satisfaction

The Monster in Every Writer’s Head

Note: This post is the 2nd place winner in the “Writer’s Doubt” writing contest, “The Monster in Every Writer’s Head” by blogger, Liwen Ho of 2 Square 2 Be Hip. *Warning* This is the type of post you’re going to want to save and read again and again. Trust me, it’s sneaky good like that. Join me in congratulating Liwen in the comments.

You know how under every kid’s bed is a monster?

Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. In every writer’s head exists a monster, too…


I’m talking about that hairy, slimy and drooling creature that taps you on the shoulder with its sharp claws as you type.

It’s the one that snarls and stares down at you with its two – or three – googly eyes when you finish a blog post, an article or a book.

It’s the monster that was conceived in a corner of your mind, then grew and grew to the point that it began crowding out all the good thoughts in your head.

Do you recognize this monster yet?

If not, let me introduce it to you. The monster hiding in every writer’s head is called DOUBT.

The monster hiding in every writer’s head is called DOUBT. (Click to Tweet)

And boy, is it scary.

It’s scary enough to stop me in my tracks before I even get a single word written down.

It’s big enough to make me want to scrap whatever I’m working on and start over.

It’s real enough to steal the joy from what I love to do the most – to write and to share my writing with others.

I’ve already had plenty of opportunities in my short time as a writer to practice taming this monster.

And what I’ve learned is:

This monster only has as much power over me as I give it.

I can choose to cower in front of my laptop while it stomps around in my head or I can decide to look it in the eyes, stick my tongue out at it, and prove it wrong.

I think the latter choice is more fun, don’t you?

However, I’ve been having a harder time taming my monster this week, not because I haven’t been able to write, but because I have finished writing.

I am happy overjoyed to say I have completed my first novel.

When I added the final period to the final sentence of the final chapter of my book, I was ready to cry and dance and shout from the rooftops. I wanted to stick my hands on my hips and say, “Take that!” to my monster for every moment it made me doubt during this whole process of writing.

But the next day while I was telling my girlfriend about finally being able to publish the book and she asked, “So I’ll be able to buy it and read it on my Kindle?”, my monster stood up again and knocked me over with its scaly tail.

“Uh, yes, but you don’t have to read it,” I replied with writer’s doubt coursing through every cell in my body.

Is it strange that I’ve worked so hard on my book, can’t wait to publish it, but don’t want anyone to read it? (I hope I’m not the only one with weird thoughts like this!)

Sure, my monster is trying to mess with my head (and heart) again, but I know it’s doing so in part to protect me from getting hurt. It understands that putting my work out there for anyone and everyone to read can be risky.

It knows how hard it is to self-publish and market a book on your own. It wants to save me from the criticisms and rejections I will likely get.

But these are 3 things that I’m trying to remind my monster, that monster called DOUBT, when it starts to act out:

1) Not everyone will like or agree with my writing and (gulp!) it’s okay.

2) My writing doesn’t have to be perfect.

3) Growing as a writer takes time and each opportunity is a stepping stone to the next one.

So, I hope my monster starts listening and having FAITH in what I’m telling it.

I will likely have to spend a lot of time with it in order to calm it down, but maybe that’s what my monster needs. Someone like Boo who was able to befriend Sulley and Mike in the movie Monsters, Inc. 

If she could make nice with some monsters, perhaps I can, too.

What about you? How are you dealing with your monster? Share in the comments.

Congratulations, Liwen!

Join me in congratulating Liwen in the comments. ~Bryan

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.

Subscribe and I’ll send you “The Writer’s Manifesto.” Enter your email:

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



  • Pingback: The Monster in Every Writer’s Head | 2 Square 2 Be Hip()

  • Hi there Bryan,
    First of all : Congratulations on getting the 2nd place in the contest 🙂
    Well, my monster is growing big these days for sure. And I guess it’s time to let him know that I’m more powerful than him.

    Great thinking, loved you idea.

    And thanks for sharing it.


    • Amal, you mean congratulations to Liwen. 🙂

    • Liwen

      Thank you, Amal!

  • Andria R Bicknell

    Well done! Bryan is right, it’s “sneaky good,” and I’ve already read it twice. Congratulations, Liwen! Very clever analogy. Very clearly articulated. I love it!

    • Liwen

      Thank you, Andria, for your encouragement!

  • Janelle Keith

    Great post, great description of the monster in us all. Congrats on second place! I love community found here. Reminds me that I’m not the only one that is plagued with believing the lies, picking up weapons of the writer’s world. I’ve signed up to punch this fear and knockout the doubt monster.

    • Liwen

      Thanks Janelle! Yes, I so value this community of writers, too!

  • Christine (BetterNovelProject)

    Congrats, Liwen! I love your second reminder for the monster. I definitely struggle with allowing work that isn’t “perfect” down on paper– which of course means that nothing gets down at all! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 -Christine

    • Liwen

      Thanks Christine! One of my favorite quotes is: Perfectionism leads to hopelessness, but failure leads to hope (because you can always try again). Keep on writing!

  • Nick ‘n Sarah Anderson

    Way to go, Liwen! Your essay was a lot of fun to read and I will be coming back to it to remind myself of the three points you are reminding your monster of. And congratulations on finishing your first novel! That is definitely cause for celebration!

    • Liwen

      Thank you, Nick ‘n Sarah! I appreciate your encouragement.

  • Great job Liwen!. You did befriend your monster and brought it under control! And congratulations on writing your novel! I loved how you pointed out that the monster doesn’t leave when we’ve finished. Oh no. He hangs around to kill any joy we might begin to feel. Monsters are like that.

    • Liwen

      Thanks, Anne! Yup, monsters are sneaky like that. 😉

  • Justine Manzano

    Congrats Liwen on both your second place award in this contact and also on the completion of your novel! I thought I was alone in wanting my work published and then cringing when I realize someone might read it. What a strange phenomenon. Thank you for sharing and good luck befriending those monsters! 😉 Happy writing!

    • Liwen

      Thanks, Justine! Good to know we share the same strange phenomenon, so maybe it’s not so strange after all. 😉

  • Congratulations Liwen. Writing a novel is not easy and completing it does not take away the doubt. I have written three novels which can’t find a publisher. I have doubts about them ever finding a publisher. At first, my doubts told me they were badly written and they were not interesting, After much arguing with my doubting monster I now accept that it’s the flood of manuscripts and books, not that my writing is bad. Family and friends have read my novels and liked them. I know, I know…family and friends can’t be trusted to give an honest opinion, but two of my readers are astute readers and critics. Taming your monster takes constant struggle, but know that what you write does count and that just in finishing a novel you have mastered that monster.
    Good luck in your writing.

    • Liwen

      Thank you, Adelaide! Congrats on finishing three novels – WOW! Best wishes on your publishing endeavors!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    I soaked every syllable of this magnificently penned article, Liwen!! #HUGSS

    Congratulations on publishing your book AND winning in this contest! Muaaah

    Maybe I should befriend this monster too because I haven’t been able to produce ANYTHING in the last 14 days 🙁 *sigh*

    Thanks for your empowering, elevating, engaging and encouraging post!

    • Liwen

      Thank you so much, Krithika! No worries, there will always be “dry” spells as a writer, but plenty of prolific times to make up for them. What helps me is to remember to write for the love of writing, not producing, though it’s hard, I know! Keep persevering and you’ll have a new monster friend in no time. 🙂

  • Congratulations, Liwan and thanks for sharing your story. I’m finally gaining better control of my own monsters, much to the encouragement received from posts on this site. I’m eager to read you book!

    • Liwen

      Thank you, Sandi, for your encouragement and also for wanting to read my book!

  • Brooke

    Congratulations, Liwan! I laughed when you told your friend she didn’t have to read your book – – really identified with your story. Will be reading this again!

    • Liwen

      Thanks, Brooke! So glad to know you can relate to my experience. 🙂

  • frances laskowski

    Congratulations! I can really feel your thoughts! The elation and dread all at the same time. What a wonderful thing to have finished yur book, and now, well, now? It is going to be great! Im so happy for you!

    • Liwen

      Thank you, Frances for your encouraging words!

  • frances laskowski


  • Marianne Kesler

    Thanks for sharing a real dilemma with a nice dose of humor … Congratulations Liwen!

    • Liwen

      Thanks, Marianne! Glad my experience was worth a laugh. 🙂

  • Congratulations Liwen – Great post. Doubt is the monster that shows up before writing, during and after hitting publish. I am so glad I don’t have to be perfect.

    • Liwen

      Thank you, Jon! Yes, perfection is overrated, isn’t it? 🙂

  • I had read your post on your blog a while back and just about cried because I felt like you spoke to my soul! The part when you told your friend about your book and she asked if she could buy it is something I have just gone through. It was super intimidating and then I stepped back and was like, wait? I thought I wanted to write to be read? Doubt is so mean sometimes. What a good reminder that it really is a monster. Congrats and well said!

    • Liwen

      Hi Chelsea, yes, I remember you left a comment on my blog! Thanks so much for your encouraging words. I love what you said – “I thought I wanted to write to be read?” Such a good reminder. Best wishes to you on your writing endeavors!

  • Miriam N

    I actually read your post on your blog Liwen. I felt really touched and really felt you on every part of it. Congrats on second place! Good luck on future writing projects!

    • Liwen

      Thank you so much, Miriam! I wish you well on your writing endeavors, too!

  • Excellent post, Liwen! As a published author, I can definitely relate!
    Point #1 is spot on. No, not everyone will like or agree with what we
    write. But I’ve found that more *will*. The trick is to not let those
    grainy bits of negativity roll around in our shoes. 🙂 Wishing you all
    the best and a fruitful writing career!

    • Liwen

      Thanks, Julie! I love how you put it – I’ll definitely be dumping out those grainy bits of negativity from my shoes! 🙂

  • Congrats, Liwen! Excellent post! I love writing about monsters and watching monster movies, but DOUBT is one monster that I do NOT enjoy. Again, great job!

    • Liwen

      Thank you, Val, for your encouragement!


    Thanks so much for sharing. I’m just at the beginning of a fresh time. I started my story three years ago. 200 pages. Good job indeed Annie. And then, something terrible happened in my life. Now, I’m back on tracks, exercicing every day. Thanks you for all the writers who help other writers to step and than keep on in their journey. I have written 2 pages. Isn’t it fabulous ? I know on thing now. To get victorious on this horrible monster, I have to stop thinking : it’s hard to write. No, Passion is everything and even If inspiration doesn’t show up; I CAN write something. Be proactive, be authentic, get back your vision, hold on your dream. Just remember : Faith, hope and love are the three ingreedients to make dreams come true. From France, my encouragements to all my fellow-writers… HA HA 🙂

    • Liwen

      Merci, Annie, for sharing from your heart! It’s comforting to know that writers from different parts of the world share the same struggles. I completely agree with what you wrote – faith, hope and love are so essential to making dreams come true. Best wishes as you continue to write!

      • ANNIE EVE

        Thank so much for your answer. Most of the time when I try to connect with people they don’t answer. I understand because it’s impossible to be connected with everyone. But social networks should provide mentors and I think that the most gifted and mature writers can delegate in order to provide new leaders. I’m really longing for a mentor in my country but hardly can’t find one yet. 🙂

      • thanks so much for your encouragements. you know, guys in US, you are very aware of the power of encouragement, never giving up, celebrating small achievements, and this particular capacity to go ahead, taking a second chance…I appreciate this aspect of your culture. For us, as french, we are perhaps sensitive, reflecting a lot, and it’s good but I can learn from you my dear american brothers and sisters 🙂 Have fun with your writing 🙂

  • Lissa Carlino

    I trust. By putting myself out there, I accept that it is up to the gods of fate to do with it what they will. Especially important to accept that not everyone will like it. But there will be someone who does. That doesn’t mean I am to be lazy- there is always work and there should be work if you really love something and want to keep challenging yourself as a writer. Well, that and Sara Barielles’ song “Brave” really helps. 🙂

    • Liwen

      Hi Lissa, thanks so much for commenting! I love the song “Brave”, too. Best wishes to you as you “let the words fall out”! 🙂

  • I can totally relate to “Yes, but you don’t have to read it.” The doubt monster especially grips me when I think about my family reading my book. I have to look them in the eyes at holidays and know that they’ve seen into the deeper recesses of mind mind, the corners I usually keep hidden.

    It’s especially scary when you don’t have a list of stories, so you can say “No look, that character doesn’t directly represent me. I write about all sorts of things, really!”

    Thanks for the encouraging article. I know the answer is to ignore the doubt and keep going, but it’s nice to have a reminder every now and then. 😀

    • Liwen

      Thank you, Fritze, for reading and commenting! Yes, I completely understand what you’re saying. I don’t mind having strangers read my work, but family – gulp! I hope you will be brave and allow others to see inside those hidden corners. You may be surprised at the positive feedback you receive. 🙂