Monday, July 26, 2010


In the tapestry of life, we must compete all the time. This is especially true to writers. We battle against the tried and true best sellers and the millions of would be writers vying for a coveted spot on an agents list. But, mostly, we contend with the little devil on our shoulder; self doubt. Henceforth known as SD.

Its big, and ugly and weighs more than you. Indeed, it is so large; the mere weight threatens to crush you with its mighty force. When your creative muse bolts out the front door, you want to throw your computer at the wall. Ok, maybe not that bad, I do have a Mac and I won’t even let the hubby touch it, but you get my drift.

Suddenly, you finished your MS. Woot. Do a jig, the happy dance; pump your fist in the air, Jersey style. Then the devil appears and whispers, “You suck, lady. Don’t quit your day job.”

To which I reply, “F*ck off, I’m over educated and unemployed. This IS my job.” Self doubt eases up for a while, sometimes, you even forget its there. Until it rears its ugly head again.

“Didn’t I tell you to go to hell yesterday?” You ask.

“Been there. Done that.”

That’s right, I’m having a conversation with SD on my shoulder.

“That’s an understatement.” You reply, flicking SD of its shoulder perch.

Your muse returns, and you get back to work. Inspiration pours from your fingers. You write a kick ass scene, peeps love it. Your high on creativity, then 2 form rejections slide into your email box. One agent tells you, oh so subtlety, you need to take a second look at how to write an effective query letter. Wonderful. So in a nutshell, agent says, while I find your work intriguing, you can’t write a query letter. Um, I get, like everyone else, agents are busy. But really? Who isn’t? Don’t we have lives, careers, and a family? Could said agent have not added exactly what it was that intrigued yet threw her off? Not likely.


“All right, all right. Your right –

SD laughs maniacially and jumps up and down. “I told you. You suc –”

“Not so fast, buddy. I tweaked a few things. Charli did a jig, and I got a partial request from one of my top agent pics. Take a hike.”

Poof, the devil vanishes.

We’re competing, aye, for bookshelves, agents, publishers, and readers. But most of all we’re contending with ourselves. The one that shouts to the world, “I am a writer!” And the one that continuously tries to drag you down.

In the early stages of writing, discovering, learning, you may battle with SD everyday. There comes a time, however, when each writer attains a certain amount of self-confidence in their work, and story telling abilities. Could be through crit groups, contests, publication – anything that elevates them to another level.

Confidence, to some degree, usually sticks, and it only happens after growing as a writer, learning how to flex those world-building muscles. So when SD appears, and looks up, way up, at CONFIDENCE, you smile.

We all experience this as artists, creators. ‘Tis the bane of our existence. But, it’s up to YOU how much you let it impact your creativity.

What sets you off? Why do you hop out on the ledge and wave hello to an irreverent Charli? If your reply is going to be long, I’ll pull up a chair, lean out the window, and have a martini.


  1. Oh, I forgot to mention ... this one is for Megan O! Chin up lassie! :-)

  2. Self Doubt was my BFF for a while. As writers it's a part of life. But it's learning how to acknowledge why it's there. For some reason it creeps in and that's when we have to dig deep.

    There is always the ledge...

  3. Even writers who are published deal with self-doubt. Yesterday was a day from hell but today is better. Today I know I'll be okay and I can look at those contest panels and see what might need to be changed or addressed. Yesterday? Well..yesterday I was on the ledge ready to fly.

  4. Learn to make friends with that little devil because as far as I can tell, that little niggling creature never entirely goes away.

    Yes, when one of my mss final in a contest I get a lift, and yes when I get a request for a full or partial, it makes my day. But these small triumphs are fleeting. The rejections are coming. In fact, they are right around the corner.

    And oh yeah, the SD monster is a transmogrifier. He/she just morphs into a new devil, one that shakes you up in new, unexpected ways. I am riding that scary beast all the way to Orlando, and now have to practice what I preach over the next week:

    Suck it up, buttercup!

  5. AJ, I can't thank you enough...this is really helping. My current SD monster is screaming that what I am writing is too dark, too yucky, too different from my public face. I worry about what others will think (mainly family and friends), and if they'll wonder if there's something wrong with me that I have to write about violence and rape and murder. I guess I wasn't ready to come out of the closet, lol. I appreciate the love and encouragement, though.

    My muse is screaming at me again, so I guess I'll get my butt in gear and finish the next chapter.

    Dang, you guys are good!

    <3 Meg

  6. I hate that damn SD bastard! I've dealt with it during the first years of being a mother, and when I figured out that I was doing a pretty decent job, it only comes back when both kids are crying, the dog is barking, and my hubby is asking where his favourite pair of socks are, while I'm trying to tell the very nice but pushy telemarketer that I am not interested in the amazing cell phone plan they are hawking. And when I started this writing journey that SD tyrant morphed into all the adolescent insecurities I thought were gone and jumped on my back like a tumour. I have had to dig deep and grow as a person, and realize that not everyone is going to like my stuff, and I had to be ok with that. Art is such a personal thing, and there are many different ways to go about it. And when SD tries to make me cry and want to crawl in a hole and die, I remember that for every 100 'no's', there will be 1 'yes'. And it's that yes that keeps me going. This is not an easy road we've chosen to go down, but it is very rewarding.

  7. I struggle with this problem a lot. I never know what will set it off. But I am blessed with great friends that pull me from the trenches and tell me nicly to get it together. Then if I continue I always have the friends that jerk me to my feet and smack me around a little till I pull out of it. LOL! Its kind of funny my little self doubt monster in my head looks like the noid from Dominos pizza. Constantly bouncing around and you can't ever catch him. I just want to catch the little bugger and shake the crap out him. Self doubt is a nasty little creature and I try to ignore him most of the time but sometimes we just have to have that pitty party. I know in my head I am a good writer but sometime the fear wraps you up and you feel like you are wasting your time. Thats when I turn to my friends and family they always know what to say. A good support system is the key.

  8. Martini in hand, sun on my face, sitting on the deck at the cottage, looking at the lake ... and I'm stealing someone's wifi! He he he.

    Hell days suck ass, Anne. Fortunately, for me anyway, they seem to be fleeting rather than long. CONFIDENCE is winning the battle. I like that, Jill, suck it up Buttercup, and that is precisely what we mentally do to ourselves when the little turd SD tries to rain on our parade.

    Megan, I hadn't even chosen a topic to blog about today, then I read your email, and well, it pissed me off. I hate feeling shitty, and I sure as hell know everyone else does to. So I took the little devil, rung his neck, and typed up this post.

    I was having a convo with Charli last night about agents. Based on a query that was alike in every way save the personal info about each agent, I had one agent request a partial, calling my work very intriguing, and another tell me I wrote a very ineffective query, yet my story sounded intriguing. Please, tell me, what the hell that means? Because I'm at a loss.

    We only need 1 YES, Kris, that's what I'm waiting for, and your right Carey, a good support system is a HUGE help!

  9. 2 more form rejections people. Self doubt and me are chatting it up. Trying to figure out what I am doing wrong.

    Because here is where I am at. I am doubting my query. I believe in my work. I truly do. Not being snotty or conceited. As writers we have to believe in what we write, because if we don't, why should they?

    Maybe our doubt is coming through the words.

    May I need to get my self doubt properly foxed to keep from yapping as I write...

  10. Oh Charli, I'm so sorry. The SD monster must have jumped ship from me to you. It'll be okay. It doesn't hurt to keep evaluating things, however. Everybody can make improvements. Maybe a phrase, or a sentence you could tweak. Something.

    Or maybe not, and maybe all the agents are screwed up.

  11. Sorry to hear that, Charli.
    SD is a dreaded thing. It waits until you're down to crash an Acme anvil on you. But if you won't get up, no one's gonna do it for you. Know what your ultimate goal is. Even if I never make it to mine, I know I'm trying, and that I made the effort.

  12. thanks for sharing.