Dealing with self-doubt as a writer

How to Deal With Self-Doubt as a Writer

Tons of good writers were rejected

According to, Agatha Christie was rejected for five years before landing a deal, and Jack London’s house is filled 600 rejections he received before selling a story. Expect rejection, and accept it as part of the deal. If you’ve been rejected, you’re in great company.

The secret to success is failure

My favorite bit of advice on handling rejection comes from Mike Rowe. He tells a fan that rejection is only the most likely result of trying. I believe that the road to success is paved in failure, and the only way to reach our goals is to continuously fail at them. To fail means we’re trying and we’re learning. If we keep trying and learning, we’re bound to get there eventually, and we’ll have our failures to thank for it.

You have to love writing enough that failure won’t stop you

Say the worst case scenario happens, and you never make a dime off of your writing. No one wants to read it. Maybe they hate it. That doesn’t matter, because what matters is that you keep writing. I like what Dan Harmon has to say on this. “No matter what, you have to be sure that you would be OK dying without ever having gotten a break, and that you’d still be satisfied with the work that you did in a vacuum. Because if that’s going to make you really sad at the end of your life as that bus hits you, or that Winnipeg ice cream cone gets lodged in your throat, if the last thing you’re gonna think is ‘Oh my god, I wasted my time writing,’ then it’s not for you.” He then adds that he believes if you persevere, it’s going to pay off.

Everything has been said, but not by you

Everything has been done before. If you feel you’re unoriginal, you’re in great company. By Suzanne Collin’s own admission, The Hunger Games was inspired by the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. Harry Potter borrows tons of mythological creatures. You might remember a South Park episode that harped on the fact The Simpsons already did everything there is to do in a show. But no one can tell your story the way you can tell it. You have a unique perspective to offer the world, and you should use it.

Simpsons Did it

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Believe in yourself, or no one else will

Ultimately, you need to believe in yourself because no one else will if you can’t. Keep doing what you love despite the odds, the criticism and the rejections. Do it to share, or just do it for you. The key is not to stop. If you’re a true writer, and I believe that you are if you’re reading this, you won’t be able to stop, even if you decide to, because it will haunt you. You’ll form new stories or obsess over an old one, and they’ll claw their way out of you eventually. You can do this.

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