Tuesday, October 4, 2011

6 Ways to Fight the Dreaded Doubts

I knew two sisters who started life with the same opportunities. They grew up in the same town, enjoyed the same education, and they were both gifted with the same level of creative talent. Despite these similarities, only one sister succeeded in achieving her dreams. The other allowed doubts and regrets to rule her life.

My advice on how to beat the doubts:

1. A Positive Attitude: I think doubts have a way of turning into self-fulfilling prophecy. Fight them by staying positive. Remember how much you enjoy writing, painting, dreaming. Believe you will succeed.

2. Perseverance: I believe almost anything can be achieved through hard work and perseverance. So, keep your dreams. Don't give up. Don't let anything hold you back.

3. Try again: When a project doesn't seem to go anywhere, then if you've given it all you can, start a new project. Few authors sell their first novels; few artists sell their first paintings.

4. Don't expect instant perfection: For starters true perfection can't ever be achieved. Our best work, however, can be achieved. Work with realistic, achievable goals.

5. Exercise: Keep the body active, get the blood flowing through the brain, and doubts will find it harder to take a hold.

6. Ask yourself, will I regret it if I quit? I quit once. It's the biggest regret in my life. Memory of that regret now keeps me striving for my dreams.

What do you do to keep your doubts at bay?

Note: this post was written for the Insecure Writers' Group.  It's a bit early, but my posting schedule is out of whack this week due to the long weekend in NSW, Australia.

The group was formed by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers to encourage each other.


  1. a help for an honest friend is also good for getting rid of doubts :)

  2. 1. Fresh Air - definitely.
    2. Pep talk - either myself or with a friend who really knows me.
    3. Get stuck into it!
    4. Keep going - you have to!
    5. And keep a focus on the end goal - cliche but works for me.

  3. Great post. Number Six is one that's especially good but that I hadn't heard before.

  4. Such great advice! I guess as far as my doubts go, I keep two things in mind. 1. I am not the best and I never will be. There are geniuses that I will not live up to. So long as my goal is to be the best, my doubts will never go away. And 2. that I'm not as good as I will be, and no matter how hopeless a situation seems, it's getting me one step closer to my best. :)

  5. Oh, Lynda... number six is such a biggie! I always try to keep it in mind. Great list! :)

  6. Great advice! And like Carrie, #6 is what I'm always asking myself.

  7. Excellent, Lynda! And you know it's cool if you post early.
    More people regret what they didn't do than what they did do, so the last one is really important.

  8. I keep going because I'm too stubborn to quit. When I start to doubt myself, I talk to people who 'know' I can do this, even if it's my mum :-)

  9. I've been struggling with self-doubt a lot lately. These are all really good reminders.

  10. Dezzy, yes! Support from friends and family is important I think.

    Talei, fantastic extra tips.

    Jenna, thanks

    Bethany, good things to keep in mind. We're always improving.

    Carrie, it's a big one for me too.

    Melodie, good to hear.

    Alex, excellent point about most people regretting what they didn't do rather than what they did do.

    Sarah, stubbornness in that case works wonders--as does support.

    Luanne, I hope it helps because, while self-doubt is normal, it becomes a monster if we let it take over.

  11. Definitely exercise. It's much easier to feel motivated when you get the blood flowing.

  12. I just finished my IWSG post for this Wednesday and it has a similar message. This is a new topic for me. I've never had these feelings of insecurity before.

    I believe that a positive attitude will help chase the feelings of inadequacy away and that perseverance has a payoff. I'm hoping I don't have to start over again since this time has been hard enough, but I do know that I would regret it if I quit. There would always be that "What if" hanging over my head.

  13. Great advice! If you quit, you definitely won't succeed. :)

  14. When I am having my doubts, I look to blogs like yours for inspiration. :)

  15. Thanks, Lynda. I needed to read this today. A good night of rest or two often washes away the doubt.

  16. Some great things to think about. Thanks!

  17. #6 is the most important, I think. And yes, I would regret it!

  18. These are great things to keep in mind, and most of the time, they can be so easily forgotten. <3

  19. This is a great list of things to remember. Being a writer can be a lot of pressure. Thanks for the heads-up :D

  20. Matt, yes, exactly!

    Nancy, I think with writing there is no starting over from scratch. Everything we write goes toward learning and improving our skills.

    Janet, indeed

    Maeve, aw, thanks. Hugs

    Angelina, oh yes! sleep! That's a brilliant tip.

    E. Arroyo, hope it helps

    Lori, for sure.

    Aun-Juli, so, so true. Then the doubts sneak back

    Christine, it can be a lot of pressure, but I think the pressure we feel we mostly put on ourselves.

  21. A wonderful list and reminder. Thanks for this. :)

  22. I know I should keep a positive attitude and persevere but sometimes the self-doubt and fear are so overwhelming! But I take time out - do something none writerly - and re-group to fight another day! Yay! Take care

  23. I talk to myself through the doubts.

  24. Number six really keeps me going. I often look back on my life and think, I have I done enough. I think also, when I'm dying, will I be proud of what I've left behind? The answer is usually no, so I keep going. Great post!

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Great post. Life is so short. It's a shame we waste part of it on doubts and regrets. (I'm just as guilty as anyone....)

  27. This is great advice. I love the fact that you mentioned remembering to take care of ourselves and dealing with the biggest fear.

  28. These are great tips. I like the one about not expecting instant perfection.

  29. great tips! But when I feel low and want to give up, I read 'how to' writing books and my favourite ones always inspire me all over again

  30. I think there's a great deal to be said for perseverence. Don't look down; keep moving forward, no matter how slowly.

  31. Excellent thoughts! I totally agree with perseverance. You have to keep going, even if it's slow. (And that would be me--slow.)

  32. Great tips, Lynda, and perfect for me at this point in time.

  33. I read others' blog posts and hear about other writers who go thru slumps and discouragement, and I realize it CAN be done. That helps me persevere. Just realizing the downs are part of the journey helps!!

  34. great tips! I will certainly bookmark this for when I write mine. :)
    Btw, Come drop by my blog to claim your AWARD!


  35. The only absolute way to fail in writing is to never write at all. I think most of us have already overcome that hurdle!

  36. Joanne, thanks

    Old Kitty, it can be overwhelming. A break works wonders.

    Shelly, good one

    Clarissa, I think it's my nature to never have 'done enough'. ;)

    Emily, thanks

    Bish, same, same. And totally agree.

    Elaine, taking care of ourselves is so important.

    Talli, that's one I have to remind myself of almost daily ;)

    Pat, yes! All sorts of books are inspirational.

    jbchicoine, I recently read a quote on Maeve's blog: There's only one way to eat an elephant--one bite at a time ;)

    Shari, yes, slow is fine as long as we don't give up.

    Rachna, oh good to hear.

    Carol, yes! Reading the difficult journey of other writers who are now successful is a great inspiration to keep going.

    nutschell, oh, thanks for the award :)

    Jeff, so, so true. We only fail if we give up.

  37. Workouts definitely help. I'm with the 'never quit' phiiosophy these days, too.

  38. Wow, that's an excellent question. I don't even know if I know the answer! I think I just know giving up isn't in my blood. Even if I wanted to, I don't think I could. It would always come back, that tiny voice that said, "what if."

  39. Reading this with what's left of a head cold. Agree but have nothing of substance to add.


  40. Love your points Lynda.
    I've been running and jumping around my house this morning to get the blood flowing - my style of exercising

  41. Mary, good to hear

    Golden, thanks

    Colby, and it's an annoying voice too ;)

    Suze, urgh. Hope your cold goes away quickly.

    Michelle, hehe hope you turned the music up too ;)

  42. Hi Lynda awesome post. 'What you say is what you get' is a catchphrase that comes to my mind.


  43. Number 2 is most important to me.

    This is a great list, since writers are doubtful people. But we write on.

  44. Great tips! And I love that you have that memory of quitting (and the regret) to hold onto. Sometimes that can be the best motivator! :)

    p.s. hope you're enjoying your long weekend!

  45. Wonderful post! Perseverance is so important, I think. These are exactly the tips I use to keep doubt from biting into me while I'm working, although I don't have a quit memory as you do. I'm not sure I want it, but it sounds motivating.

  46. Amen to being positive and persistent:)

  47. Such wonderful, positive tips to help us stay focused! Thanks for the pep talk.

  48. What a great thought provoking question. I agree with all six of your pointers, unfortunately I don't exercise enough. I love it when I do, so I don't know why it is so hard to get back into it( a lot like writing). I agree with you about thinking positive. The whole law of the universe stuff really does work.

    I related to number 6. I just received a new book in the mail today that I have been wanting to read, THE PLOT WHISPERER by Martha Alderson and one of the questions she ask early on is how you will feel if you either give up or remain in writer's limbo? It has motivated me.

    For me, I focus on how good it will feel when I am finally a published author. It keeps me going and keeps the doubts away.

  49. Denise, yep, that's an appropriate catchphrase.

    Medeia, yes, we write on because that's what we do (and we are a little crazy too.)

    Susan, it seriously is! And yes, had a fantastic long weekend, thanks :)

    Cynthia, I advise you don't get that memory. Sure, it's motivating, but it's better not to have that regret in the first place.

    Mark, indeed

    Isis, because staying focussed isn't always that easy ;)

    L A Speedwing, hope it helps.

    Melissa, yes! Like writing, exercise needs a routine, I think, to make sure we keep at it.
    Focussing on your goals is a fantastic way of keeping those doubts at bay.

  50. That last question, the regret one, is awesome. I can't tell you how many times quiting has crossed my mind until I realize I can't live without writing. It's a choice I make every day to keep going. Great post!

  51. Add a 7th: make love with someone special.

  52. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I'm going to bookmark this one. :)

  53. I love all your points! Exercise is so important - I have a hard time feeling creative when my body's feeling blah.

  54. This is a great list. I do think that doubts can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Excellent inspiration here.

  55. i think #1, positive attitude, is the most important. Almost everything can be overcome as long as you stay positive

  56. Great thoughts. I'm 100% behind the persevere thing. My hubby and I have one project that's eight years old now and as awesome as they come, but without the will to get it into the right hands, it may as well be a ball of wax.

  57. Persistence and consistence - and a PMA!

  58. This is a great list!

    I dont exercise enough anymore, but in college I would run and run and run, and think and think and think.

    The only thing I would add is an awesome support group, I've had moments when my positive attitude starts to slip, and its really helpful to have people prop it up again.

  59. I've had regrets too, that's why I'm doing this now. I didn't want to wake up one day and say what if. Thanks for the great ideas!

  60. Regrets the bane of life. HeyHo! Great tips Lynda. I do try to walk when the cobwebs threaten to take up residence over long!

  61. E R King, quitting is easy, living with the regret and the what ifs isn't so easy.

    Tyrean, great!

    Mohamed, yep, that works

    Jamie, glad it helped :)

    Susan, exactly!

    Kari, doubts can have way too much power if we let them.

    Sarah, totally agree.

    Crystal, that's exactly right... and there's not much we can do with a ball of wax except set it on fire ;)

    Diane, um, I'm not too sure what a PMA is... but I get your gist :)

    Sara, I highly recommend exercise. It not only gives you the time to think, but it energizes the body and gets those endorphins moving and creative juices flowing. It also counters all that sitting time.

    Jessica, it's a great motivator, isn't it.

    Ann, those tricksy cobwebs can get in the way ;)

  62. Hi, new follower and fellow insecure writer here. I have to say, I am one of those people who writes and expects instant perfection. I get so annoyed and frustrated when its not just right, and I have to keep redoing it. But I agree with you - whenever I feel like giving up I try to remember, I WILL regret it if I quit and never finish getting my story out. So thanks for the inspiration and good luck with your writing!!
    - http://pensuasion.blogspot.com/

  63. S L Hennessy, welcome! It would be easier if we COULD have instant perfection ;)

  64. This is a great post! I think I may need to print it out and keep it with me...everywhere. :-)


I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.