Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

All Writers Doubt Themselves – How YOU Can Overcome Doubt

I’m pleased to announce that my new book Writer’s Doubt is now available on Amazon in Kindle format!

Whewwww! That was a long needed sigh of relief and of accomplishment. Writer’s Doubt has been in the works for almost 4 years and I’m delighted to have it finished, but in some ways it’s also a feeling of loss because I no longer get to open the latest draft and continue working on it. It’s finished. It’s not just mine anymore, now it’s yours, too.

There were times when I thought I’d never finish it, much less publish it. I did both. I overcame doubt, and so can you!

doubt-book-writing

Doubt is a natural part of all of us and no one can ever completely escape it.

The first lesson in overcoming doubt is knowing that there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling doubtful, it’s normal.

You’re human, therefore you doubt.

The problem is when doubt overwhelms us and keeps us from creating the work we are meant to create.

Doubt has stopped too many people from living their dreams.

(Tweet This)

Unhindered, doubt won’t allow you to say what you mean to say. You’ve written great work, but if it doesn’t matter to you as much as it would have if you had said what you wanted to say, then you’re a victim of Writer’s Doubt.

We’ve all been there.

Doubt is insidious in that it can make us stall and give up, or worse, hold us back from being true to ourselves and our writing.

You can overcome doubt!

We must all wage an intense, lifelong battle against the constant downward pull. If we relax, the bugs and the weeds of negativity will move into the garden and take away everything of value.

~Jim Rohn

Yes, you can and will overcome doubt, but allow me to insert a word of caution: absolutely defeating doubt is not possible and should never become your goal.

Doubt will always be a part of your writing and creative life. However, with that said, it doesn’t need to cause you to give up or withhold your best art.

Doubt not only holds us back, but it also makes us do unhelpful things:

Doubt holds us back from taking risks that need to be taken.

Doubt holds us back from thinking we’re good enough.

Doubt holds us back from reaching our true potential.

Doubt holds us back from finding our voice.

Doubt makes us uncertain if we should be writing at all. After all, the dinosaurs probably preferred extinction because they knew you’d try to become a writer.

Doubt makes us seek approval (again and again and again).

Doubt makes us wait for someone to pick us.

Doubt makes us reach for milestone after milestone, ceaselessly stalling until the next one, which will always be too little too late.

You know these are true, because you know your best work is still to come.

I didn’t write my first book until I was 37 years old, but I had started writing stories long ago when I was just a young boy.

The reality is I had to take a remedial reading and writing class in grade school because I had difficulty learning. Later, in college a professor claimed I would never be a writer and she said this boldly in front of the entire class. I got up, left her class in embarrassment and shame, and never returned.

At one point, I gave up writing for over a decade.

Doubt had won, and thanks to that professor who called me out, I had it on authority that I wasn’t good enough to be a writer.

I started writing again in a personal journal only for myself many years after that dreadful experience in college. I had an overwhelming need to write about my childhood and I told my story in my journal, which eventually became my first book, my memoir.

I eventually published “One Boy’s Struggle” in 2007 and it has since become considered one of the most important memoirs written about a child growing up with the type of inexplicable behaviors I displayed.

However, before that an editor had told me One Boy’s Struggle would never be published the way it was written.

I mean, really, how much help did my doubt need? How many experts were going to tell me I could not do what I longed to do?

So I hired an editor to refine my memoir as suggested, but when I got it back I was appalled at how ‘perfect’ it seemed to me. It read more like so many other novels I had read before. It wasn’t a novel, it was my story, my life, and my life was far from perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

I don’t write like that – that’s not me.

Call it pride, call it ignorance, call it what you want, but I decided to publish the raw, original version from my journal with only minor editing to make it presentable in book format.

That version of One Boy’s Struggle which “should never have been published” has gone on to garner praise from the foremost experts in the field, has over 50 – 5 star reviews on Amazon, and in 2011 the publishing company that publish it announced I had become one of their top 3 bestselling authors out of the 4000+ authors published by them at the time.

I’ll never become a writer? I can’t publish my memoir? Well…

I am a writer and I did publish my memoir!

I’ve been told so many times in my life that I can’t do this or that, and I was even removed from school during the middle of tenth grade because I had failed to pass a single class that year. (Okay, honestly, how I made it to tenth grade is beyond me, but that’s another story.)

I’m not going to be the next King or Salinger and I’m never going to write like Hemingway (why would I want to?). But I’ll tell you what I can do, what I have done, and what I will continue to do:

Write work that matters and ship. (Tweet This)

But think about it, considering what I’ve revealed in this post (and much more that I reveal in Writer’s Doubt), who am I to write and publish a book about writing? I mean, really. Who do I think I am?

Those are the type of questions doubt makes us ask of ourselves. Such questions can stop us cold and make us give up on our dreams.

But I’ll answer, because I now know them for what they are:

I’m someone who works hard to overcome doubt every day and create work that matters to me, and hopefully you, and I ship. I’ve done it time and time again when by all rights I should have given in and given up for good long ago.

How do I overcome doubt? How do I create work that matters despite the odds? How do I manage to write every day and ship anyway?

Would the answers to those questions be valuable information to you? Let me know in the comments.

Download your copy of Writer’s Doubt from Amazon and join me in the trenches, working hard at it every day with strategies that make it not only possible to overcome doubt, but create work that truly matters!

Write, because that’s what writers do

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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  • Michelle King Eigemann

    Bryan your words came at a much needed time for me, thank you! I do have doubt that resides within me and while I agree that doubt is a normal part of the process, too much of it can destroy a dream (if you allow it to). I am excited to read “writer’s doubt” and to continue to push past that voice inside me that says”you could never be a writer.”

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      And you know what, Michelle? YOU ARE A WRITER!

  • themagicviolinist

    Congrats, Bryan! 🙂 I loved the book! Every writer should get a pep talk like yours.

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Thanks MV! And I’m trying to reach EVERY writer! 🙂

  • D Scott

    Definitely loved and needed this article. Cant wait to get the book too. I have another one of yours and its been a help so far too…

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Thanks, D. I’ve got a feeling you’re going to enjoy this book!

  • http://www.finallywriting.com/ Jackie

    Congratulations on your book release~how awesome! I run into doubt all the time, especially when I am trying to create something that matters to me. When I am able to take a step back and look at the doubt, I realize it is an initiation and moving through the tension creates the energy needed to propel forward with our important work.

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      I love that, Jackie! Propel forward!

  • http://brucercross.com/ Bruce R. Cross

    Bryan – first of all, congratulations on the book hitting Kindle. It will go on my wish list (currently have 3 or 4 books in my read now que); also, thanks for the encouragement you are in helping your readers KNOW that we too can do it….really good word first thing on a Monday morning!

    For anyone, including myself, the inference of YES YOU ARE A WRITER are so powerful…declarative. Sharing this link that got me over the hurdle…..perhaps it may be a blessing to another

    http://brucercross.com/yes-i-am/

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Ha! Thank for sharing, Bruce. By the way, I’m starting a new writing contest in a few days here on Positive Writer, so stand by and get ready to enter!

      • http://brucercross.com/ Bruce R. Cross

        On contest…now that you mention it…I recall you mentioning it recently…thx

  • Marianne Kesler

    This really struck a chord with me as a musician, as I did not record my first professional album until age 37! Six CDs and several singles later, I continue to write music ~ but not without the regular and unwelcome visitor of doubt. This article was true encouragement! I also blog on creativity and posted one on what happens after we release a new work … called “Post Partem Blues”. I’d love comments! http://www.mariannekesler.com/blog

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      You bring up a great point, Marianne, “Writer’s Doubt” although focuses on writing, the information relates to and is helpful in just about any endeavor.

  • http://www.leonardotrait.com/ Angie Dixon

    Congrats on the new book. I love your story about your memoir. I wrote the second edition of my current book (now in its third edition) to please the owner of a small publishing house. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I wanted it to be, and I ended up taking my rights back because I didn’t like the way things were going. My mistake was that I self-published it as it was, because that’s what someone else wanted. And I was old enough and experienced enough to know better. Now the better third edition is out. Doubts? Sure. But as you said, they can be overcome. Can’t wait to read Writer’s Doubt.

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Angie. It’s one thing to take advice and direction from a publisher, but it’s another to not feel comfortable with the work your publishing for someone else’s sake. Those days are over.

  • LinearBob

    Bryan, I would like an epub version of your book, so I can read it on one of my ebook readers. Is it available in that format? Barnes and Noble (I have a color Nook) does not list it as available. Neither does Kobo (I have one of their e-ink readers I got from Borders back in the day). But both of these ereaders like the epub format, and if I can find it somewhere I would purchase it and download it. If I have to, I would even live with a PDF.

    I like your story about how you wound up publishing your memoir. Just because we are not all wired the same, does not mean that those of us in the minority are stupid and unable to do good things. Sometimes the majority opinion is flat wrong. But being true to yourself is rarely wrong — at least for you.You shouldn’t have to “sell out” to succeed.

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Totally agree with you, Linear Bob! Couldn’t have said it better.

      I do not currently have an epub version of my book. I am testing out the KDP select program for 90 days, but in the meantime I am planning on getting it on B&N and other retailers, and paperback as well. Still working on those projects. I’ll keep you updated.

  • lindsaywriter

    “defeating doubt is not possible and should never become your goal.” I never thought of thinking of doubt like this, but how true – doubt doesn’t magically go away. When I feel doubt I totally believe your final line – just write. I tell myself, “write for five minutes, that’s all you have to do.” More often than not, I write for longer, but if I don’t that’s okay too.

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      Just write! So much power in doing just that. 🙂

  • Jamaal Reece

    Oh man, I cannot tell you how much this has helped me get out of this momentary rut I was just in. I’ve been writing for around 7 years now, and of course, due to life changes and circumstances, I’ve only been writing ‘seriously’ for say, the last 3 or so months. In that time I’ve finished a short story, and my very first chapter, in a book I plan on writing. The issue is, they’re both written in the present tense. Believe it or not, that’s actually how I learned to write. 7 years of nothing but present tense. My creative writing teacher had a big hand in that.

    Today, I decided to go and spruce up the short story with what I had learned since it was finished. I also got the bright idea to change the story over to past tense to make it more attractive to potential editors. Man, it was like a gut-punch. What I assumed would be a simple exchanging of verbs, turned out to be much more than that. It was demoralizing. And I really said to myself, “Damn, I don’t think I can write in the past tense- something even moderately adequate writers can do..” I happened to have this article bookmarked. And man, it was just on time. Thank you, sir.

  • Jamaal Reece

    Oh man, I cannot tell you how much this has helped me get out of this
    momentary rut I was just in. I’ve been writing for around 7 years now,
    and of course, due to life changes and circumstances, I’ve only been
    writing ‘seriously’ for say, the last 3 or so months. In that time I’ve
    finished a short story, and my very first chapter, in a book I plan on
    writing. The issue is, they’re both written in the present tense.
    Believe it or not, that’s actually how I learned to write. 7 years of
    nothing but present tense. My creative writing teacher had a big hand in
    that.

    Today, I decided to go and spruce up the short story with
    what I had learned since it was finished. I also got the bright idea to
    change the story over to past tense to make it more attractive to
    potential editors. Man, it was like a gut-punch. What I assumed would be
    a simple exchanging of verbs, turned out to be much more than that. It
    was demoralizing. And I really said to myself, “Damn, I don’t think I
    can write in the past tense- something even moderately adequate writers
    can do..” I happened to have this article bookmarked. And man, it was
    just on time. Thank you, sir

    • http://www.positivewriter.com/ Bryan Hutchinson

      If you’re comment is any indication of your writing, Jamaal, you’re going to do just fine! Keep writing. It’s a punch in the gut right now, but you’ll find other ways to improve the entire story while you are rewriting. See this as an opportunity.

  • http://www.naomitsvirko.com/ Naomi Tsvirko

    Just like so many of the others commenting, I too really value this post. Although I know doubt is a normal part of the writing process it’s nice to hear someone else say it. Let’s all raise our glass to success in writing projects. As you said the best thing to do is accept doubt as part of our journey and not fight it.

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  • egdot t

    Thanks for writing this book. Your English teacher was much like one of mine . One day he told me, “you have no imagination”. I was just thirteen and it was a vulnerable time in my life. I was being bullied and I had a declining father, the severity of whose illness no one appreciated at the time. My teacher fancied himself as a John Keating – like figure from “Dead Poet’s Society” ( although it was years before the film was made) and had mesmerized the other students with his supposed prowess and devotion to allowing us free expression in our writing – as long as it didn’t get too free.

    I had heard much about him and looked forward to meeting this exciting teacher, but shortly after I moved to the new school, I saw right through him and always thought he was a fraud. However, I did not trust my instincts and assumed that my inability to appreciate his brilliance was a failure in myself. But I think he perceived what I felt and perhaps that’s why he slapped me down.

    He said it in a subdued matter-of-fact tone, a mere observation, one of those facts which one must simply accept. What can one do, after all, if the boy has no imagination?

    That he was vicious and petty was later borne out by his treatment of his wife and his suspension by the school principal as a pedophile. Only many years later did I learn that he had himself been brutalized as a child.

    But he had published a book on creative writing and who was I to question him at the time? A tormented teen, with an abysmal academic record and a terrible sense of self; a failure with “no imagination” into the bargain.

    English had been my best subject until then. I moved to a new school and although I was praised for my creative writing by my new teachers, that comment clung like some super-powered barnacle to my consciousness that, to this day, has not been prized completely free , echoing, I imagine, ( me? imagine?) like a bad Hollywood depiction of torment sometimes when I try to write or think about my writing, ” no,no, no, no, imagine, imagine, imagination, nationnationnationnonononomaginationnonnnno.” I jolt up or awake, clutching my pen, frozen, sweat-drenched, panting, heaving, moaning, even drowning.

    Well, not quite. But It hovers over me like a mosquito, whining and invisible and therefore probably invincible when I’m trying to write a story. And then I can’t seem to finish anything. “No imagination, that’s why, of course. Haven’t you got it yet? Well that’s the whole point, you can’t imagine…”

    But I have done a whole lot of writing over the past couple of years. I just need to inhale , inspire and just write. It feels as though this is what you’re saying; just let yourself breathe. Is it an accident that inspiration means the same thing as breathing?

  • https://www.surajits.com Surajit Sarkar

    I have been looking for the person who is pulling me back and
    restrains me to publish my works. I have found him at last. Thanks, Bryan.