Antidote to Doubt

I have been experiencing a long period of doubt since I started my new YA manuscript a year ago.

Early on, my critique group offered some valid plot-related tips, but they implied significant changes. Call it discouragement or fear of failure. The result was that I dreaded the perspective of revision and change.

What is the point? Is the story even interesting? Will readers like it?

I took a break and did my very best to forget about this specific manuscript. Oh I was still writing. In fact, I completed the editing and copy-editing of my middle grade novel that will be published later in the spring, I wrote many blog posts in French and English, and I even started another project.

Although I pretended to be done with my manuscript, I wasn’t tranquil. The story and the characters were on my mind, especially the protagonist – a high school senior.

He spoke out loud when I was driving. He visited me at the most unexpected moments, especially when I was quiet, cooking or folding laundry. I did my best to push him back when his presence started to feel more and more real. One night he showed up in my dream.

I knew he wouldn’t leave me in peace.

So yesterday I dug through my Documents and clicked Open.

Let me tell you that I was far more annoyed than excited.

The anticipation of work wasn’t pleasant at all. I knew I would have to go back to the very beginning. I have typed one hundred and thirty pages and just couldn’t delete entire chapters, so I copied/pasted what I wouldn’t need in a New Blank Document. You never know.

I hated every minute of it. The realization that a manuscript needs serious work isn’t enjoyable. But I stayed in my chair – it helped a little that I got a nice one for Christmas – and forced myself to read from the first page to the last.

When I was finished I had clarified two important points:

1-    This first part of the story is too long (I plan to divide my story in three parts)

2-    The characters deserve a chance to live

However, the task ahead of me still freaked me out and doubt was still bothering me. Same old questions.

What is the point? Is the story even interesting? Will readers like it?

I took a short break and checked my Inbox.

The title of Mona’s latest post caught my eye and made my heart beat faster:

Do You Believe in Yourself?

First a small smile grew inside me, and then renewed energy flowed through my entire body when I visited the website that Mona had linked to her post.

Yes, we are alone when we write.

Yes, we doubt of our voice or of our characters’ voice.

Yes, writing is difficult.

Yes, we have to do it ourselves.

When living these moments of doubt we need a little bit of help. And nothing can be better than:

1-    A positive blog post

2-    Writers’ hands to lead us along the creative path

3-    Messages of encouragement from writers who have been there.

What do you do when you are afraid, lonely and you doubt of your words? What is your andidote?

photo-105

Comments

  1. Uncle Spike says:

    I stop pretending to be a grown-up…. the natural kid in me takes over and the ideas flow 🙂 (albeit mostly rubbish, lol)

  2. I feel the same way with photos sometimes. But once I get out and start snapping, it all comes back and I get a super rush.

  3. I think it helps to focus on even a small success. In my programming career, I sometimes marveled at “an amazing function” that was, in fact 3 lines of code. Success breeds success. If that doesn’t work, look around and realize that there are people who like what you have written and look forward to reading more of what you will write.

  4. Thanks for this post – I go through that self-doubt too. Looks like it’s part of the package! I guess the trick is to carry on regardless and not feel too overwhelmed.

  5. I remember tearing my manuscript into pieces after a full first draft and having a file called “Spare Parts.” I think some of the pieces became short stories later. Writing isn’t always fun.

    Do you have pair of friendly but objective eyes who might read it and tell you the truth?

  6. Good name for such a file! Yes, I belong to a critique group . We meet on a regular basis so it pushes me to bring new material when we have a meeting. Thanks for stopping by, Marilyn.

  7. Take a break and come back tomorrow. Its likely you are just mentally exhausted. Usually by the next day I am fully recharged.

  8. That’s actually what I did! Thank you for your advice and best to you.

  9. I try to keep in mind that readers’ tastes are very subjective. If there’s a character speaking to you and wanting to be heard, it’s important to let that flow out on paper.

  10. Well said Evelyne!!!
    All the well-meant advice I got when I was getting ready to self-publish “Atonement, Tennessee” actually discouraged me so much that I backed out — twice. Finally, I reminded myself that I was not publishing for the same reasons as those other writers. It was also something that I needed to do for… well, for my spirit. So I gave the indie publication to myself as a winter-holiday gift and published it on Christmas Eve. I’m very glad that I did.
    I know some time has passed since you wrote this post. So whatever your current work in progress may be, I hope it is going well.

    Hugs,
    teagan

  11. Thank you so much, Teagan. You’re right about too much feedback. I need the support of other writers but ultimately the story we want to write is ours, so yes, we have to believe in our words and ourselves to move on until The End. I see that we are on the same page here!

  12. I just ordered your new book. I look forward to reading it.

    • Well, thank you very much, Seth. Although I wrote Trapped in Paris for young people, I’ve met adults who told me that they liked it very much, too. So I hope you will enjoy the ride and won’t stay trapped in Paris. Merci.

      • Yes. I saw it was young adult but I’ve read several young adult books that were good. But mainly, I want to support you. 🙂 Plus, I have two nieces who might want to read it and they are in the target audience.

  13. Thank you again for your support. The main character of the book is a boy but I’ve met many girls in schools who liked the story very much, so your nieces should enjoy it too.
    And hopefully, you as well!

  14. Compris un peu le propos ( c’est bien, je révise mon anglais ! ). Une question : vos livres sont-ils traduits en France ?

  15. I’m also reading this quite a fair bit after it was written. As much as I’d love all readers to like my books, apart from evident errors or mistakes in continuity (or things that are not fully explained), the stories I write are stories that come to me and I would write even with no readers. I hope people will like them, but I’ve shared some stories with groups and although some improvements were suggested, I also found that what somebody liked another person detested. I also abandoned a book after mixed feedback but I’ve gone back to it now. We’ll see. Keep writing is my motto.

    • Thank you for stopping by. You have a valid point about the importance to stick to what we want to write. When I wrote the post I was stuck in the middle of a specific story and needed some feedback and support to go on. Ultimately, you’re right, the will to finish a manuscript should come from us, regardless of opinions, which are always partial. Since then I have returned to my work and hope to finish it. Thank you again for your comment.

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  1. […] a month ago I posted about my own writing doubts. Halfway through the draft of a new manuscript, I was stuck. I […]

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