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Is Your ‘Ability’ And Self-Doubt Holding You Back From Writing?

Is Your 'Ability' And Self-Doubt Holding You Back From Writing?


Are you worried that you don’t have the ability to write a short story or the novel playing on your mind?
Are you worried that your writing will such?
There is a short answer to this problem, and that is:

Please don’t be scared of not having the right ability to write fiction.
The only way to crush your self-doubt and prove your ability, or improve your writing, is to write!
So get writing!

Okay, if that didn’t work and you’re still concerned, here is the long answer…


What does ‘ability’ mean in this case?

A lot of people I meet say to me, ‘I’ve always wanted to write but I can’t.’ They don’t think they have the ability to write good fiction.

The thing is, good fiction is subjective.
Think about how many books you’ve read that your friends haven’t enjoyed, or vice versa.
There are so many different writing styles, story types and tastes out there, that whether someone thinks fiction is bad is purely down to personal opinion.

So, actually, this concern is not really about your ability to write fiction, it’s about you suffering from self-doubt.
Which is completely normal!
Every single writer in the world suffers from self-doubt, whether they’re just starting out or are international bestsellers.

You can beat this. By working on the self-doubt monster and proving to yourself that you can capable of writing…


How to overcome the self-doubt

As I said at the beginning in the short version of my answer, the key to getting through all of this is to just get writing.

Practice makes perfect. Although there’s no such thing as perfect, so in this case, practice will improve your writing, help you find your unique style and boost your confidence.
Yes, there will be days when your writing sucks and you have to lie on the floor whimpering, but again, every writers has those days. Even the big names.
And there will also be amazing days, I promise.

Don’t forget, your first draft is supposed to suck. Don’t allow yourself to be put off and don’t beat yourself up while working on a first draft (easier said than done, I know). Remember, the first draft is you telling yourself the story. It’s for your eyes only.
It’s the editing that polishes it and makes it ready for consumption by others.

While we’re on the subject of first drafts, write for you and only you. Don’t think about your readers or what your mum will make of the story (you can always edit certain bits later). Just write the story you enjoy and want to tell and read. If you’re excited about something, your passion will come through and your readers will feel it.
You might be surprised by what’s lurking back there. Give yourself the freedom to write whatever you want for that first draft, that way, there’s no room for doubt.

That does mean that doubt can rear its ugly head at the editing stage, so at this point change it from doubt to questioning.
Don’t fret over whether the writing is good enough, instead ask whether you would feel happy with someone reading it. No? Then rewrite it. That’s what editing is and it’s all part of the process.

Now, at some point, you’re going to have to stop editing and rewriting. If you want to publish your story, you’re going to have to let someone read it.
This is actually the hardest time to put a lid on self-doubt and it’s when you’ll be really questioning your ability.

Honestly, there’s nothing for it at this point but to make sure you’ve put the work in, then closing your eyes and hitting send or publish. But there’s no point in worrying about this until you’re at this stage.

Take your writing one step at a time and enjoy the process.
Enjoy writing for yourself.
Enjoy turning that story into something fully formed and beautiful.
Then enjoy showing it off.
One step at a time.


Do the best you can, because that’s the most you can do, and I bet that your story and your writing is better than you think.
If you really don’t believe that, then just keep writing. With each sentence and each story, you’ll improve and perfect your voice.

If you need more help and maybe something practical, check out my Little Book of Confidence for Writers paperback or ebook. It comes with tips and exercises to beat that self-doubt, mantras to help shift your mindset and two printables to get you organised, motivated and writing.