I’ll often see writers talk about self-doubt, inner critics, and feelings of inadequacy. “I just can’t do it” or “I’m not good enough.” I never really understood it–until now. I always told myself things like: I have no self-doubt or any of that stuff. I know I’ll make it. Someday. I could do it faster if I just had more time.
And then I start getting sad about not having enough time to write. And not matter what I do, I feel that voice inside me telling me I’m not writing fast enough. I’m not trying hard enough. And if I don’t get things under better control, I’ll never get where I want to be.
In other words, this “inner critic” that I didn’t think I had has been right there in the front of my noggin telling me I’m not going to make it. So I may not have that inner critic standing over my shoulder telling me my writing is crap, I do have him there acting like an annoying boss, telling me to work harder and faster.
But what do we do about it?
That’s the thing. We’ve all got our things to deal with, and self-doubt is a big one for writers. We all have to deal with them in our own ways. And we also have to figure out which way our inner critic is criticizing us.
“You’re not good enough”
Here’s what’s funny. I just said earlier that I never feel that way. Guess what? I have a short story pending at Asimov’s right now and I wonder why I even bothered sending it there. Why? Because I know it won’t be accepted. Because I’m not good enough for Asimov’s. Obviously, I disagree with that sentiment, or I wouldn’t send stuff to places like Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and Hitchcock, but I still do sometimes feel that way.
One way to overcome this is to put things in perspective. Getting a rejection from one of those magazines doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer. You’ve got to remember that the big boys accept less than one percent of their unsolicited submissions. They look for a very specific type of story, and also have to put together a monthly collection of stories that will include enough variety to keep things interesting and come within striking distance of the typical number of pages for an issue.
Another thing to make sure that if you ever catch yourself comparing yourself (or your writing) to another writer, STOP IT. You are your own person. A few writers will reach the level off success they desire before you reach yours. But you know what? A lot more have not reached that goal. Most never will because they’ll quit trying before they get there. Don’t be one of the people who give. The writers who make it are the ones who never quit.
What does your inner critic tell you? How do you silence it? Leave a comment and let us know!