A few weeks back I posed a question to the WildMind Creative community: ‘What do you find hardest about marketing your books?’ To my surprise the answers weren’t about the technicalities of marketing (spoiler alert: no one mentioned SEO or building an author website) instead there was a recurring theme of self-doubt. The thing that many of you find the most difficult in promoting yourself is overcoming your own self-doubt. Yep, it’s clichéd but true you really are the only thing standing in your way.
It seems that anyone trying to make it in a creative field has at some stage struggled with the dark cloud of self-doubt. It hardly comes as a surprise when you are going against the mainstream, creating something from nothing and in many cases working in isolation. Putting your work out for public consumption means rejection is inevitable.
As a writer you must grow a thick skin and not waste a second of your time worrying what anyone else thinks of you. Build your self-confidence and you will be bullet-proof. Know the following on your journey.
Forget about Perfection
‘You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page’ – Jodi Picoult
Any words are better than no words at all. So much of writing is in the re-writing. Give yourself permission to suck and get those words down on the page. By letting go of perfection and embracing the terrible first draft you can move forward without the pressure of having to be flawless. You’ll be surprised by how much of your writing isn’t so bad after all (or at the very least you’ll have something to edit).
Resolve to stop caring what others think
‘Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.’ – Steve Jobs
As humans, we want to be supported and accepted by others. As writers, we want our work to be loved and appreciated. Your work is unique and it may take you time to find your tribe of loyal readers. One of the best things about writing is that you do not need anyone’s permission to start. Do not let fear of judgment hold you back. There will be people that hate your work but there will be those that love it. Some people’s opinions matter – but not the majority. Try to not take rejection personally. Remember even J. K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Every writer is at a different stage in their writing journey. It can be fantastic to admire what other writers are doing and learn from their lessons but damaging to compare their highlight reel to your daily grind. Every writer has a different creative process and what works for one may not work for another. Your writing is as unique as you.
Visualize yourself where you want to be
If you are finding it difficult to move forward envision yourself having already achieved your dreams. How would this make you behave? Think? Believe? Visualize making your dreams come true step-by-step. Tell yourself that it is possible and you are going to make it happen. When you are trying to overcome self-doubt and replace it with self-belief, your biggest adversary is yourself. Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. Monitor your thinking and turn any limiting belief into a positive statement. When finding yourself saying ‘I’m not a writer or my work is no good’ replace that with ‘I am a writer. I am trying my best and every day I am improving. My writing is getting better and better’. Sounds cheesy but sometimes you have to fake it before you make it.
Do something that scares you.
‘If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.’ – Vincent Van Gough
Face fear with action. Action is a powerful way to change negative self-beliefs: it’s difficult to doubt that you are an author if you have actually published a book. Push yourself to market your work and put your writing out there. Show up and keep writing. It takes courage to be creative.
Be kind to yourself
Know that you are trying your best and that is the most you can do. Reward yourself for courageous action. This can be as simple as linking a word count goal to a treat. Give yourself regular breaks. Stay away from negativity (avoid reading those lousy reviews) and focus on positivity. Build a supportive writing network that will be there for you in times of need. From time to time look at how far you have already come. There was a day in the past when you dreamed of being where you are now.
Focus on your story
You have a story to tell and you alone can tell it. It would be a terrible shame if the story wasn’t told just because you felt inadequate. Imagine if J. K. Rowling had ceased writing Harry Potter halfway through because she thought her writing wasn’t good enough. The world would never know about Hufflepuffs and butterbeer and all the joyous escapism Harry Potter has brought its readers. Your story deserves to be told.
The Final Word
Keep writing. You are amazing. You are doing an amazing job showing up every day. Be kind to yourself and tell the story only you can tell.