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How to Write through Doubt by Rochelle Melander

June 26, 2018



Note From Rochelle


Dear Readers,


My clients come to me because they are facing some sort of challenge with their writing. Some need help discovering how to write a book or get published. Others need the accountability that coaching provides. But nearly every client I’ve worked with faces self-doubt. No matter how confident and accomplished they are in every other area of their lives, when it comes to writing, they wonder:


+Do I know enough to write this book?

+Will anyone ever read this story?

+Am I a good enough writer?


Today’s tip will help you face and overcome your doubts. If you need more help, schedule a complimentary consultation with me.







How to Write Through Doubt

by Rochelle Melander


Remember these things. Work with all your intelligence and love. Work freely and rollickingly as though you were talking to a friend who loves you. Mentally (at least three or four times a day) thumb your nose at all know-it-alls, jeerers. critics, doubters. —Brenda Ueland


Doubt happens. Rejections pile up. Someone offers a not-so-kind remark about our work. Our inner editor gets mouthy.


We face the page but worry if anyone will ever read our work. Instead of writing, we argue with our demons—those negative voices inside our heads that whisper: you’re not good enough to succeed, no one cares about this story, do something useful with your life, who do you think you are, you’re just saying the same things over and over again.


We won’t last very long as writers if we’re fragile beings who can’t take rejection, criticism, and difficult people. We need to shake off that doubt and write even when we don’t feel like it. Here’s how to write through doubt:


Expect it

Doubt happens. Shirley Hazzard said, “The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums to get rid of.” Most writers deal with self-doubt from time to time. Fighting against it takes work. Instead, expect it and accept it. When your inner doubter pipes up with a critique, acknowledge it, dismiss it, and keep writing.




Disagree with it

John Steinbeck wrote, “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” When the inner critic attacks you, talk back to it. Challenge it. Dig up all those nice notes your readers and editors have written to you over the years and read them. Create statements of faith and post them: I trust that this story needs to be told. I believe that my agent is waiting to find me. I believe that I am meant to be a children’s book writer. When doubt hits, challenge it, repeat these statements of faith, and write.




Nurture yourself

Criticism, rejection, and inner doubt can damage our resolve to write. It can also deplete our inner reserves. In DaybookAnne Truitt wrote about harsh critiques of her Arundel exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She said, “I am not concerned with reviewers’ judgments, yea or nay; they cannot deflect my course. What they can do, and this seems beyond my resistance, is hurt my general self, the supporting troops, so to speak, of my striking force.” (Daybook, p. 140) Make a list of ten soul-strengthening actions and do them regularly. When you’re feeling especially low, give yourself a day of nurture!


Your turn

What do you do when self-doubt strikes? What soul-nurturing actions do you use to support your art? Leave a comment below.



2 Responses

  1. H. Lee

    I have a first chapter of a novel that has been written a long time. Took me a long time to even have a clue where the rest would go. Author J. A. Jance gave me some advice: Sit your butt down and write. Problem is I would rather read someone else’s work first. I told a college friend recently what the first chapter was about and some thoughts about the rest. He said: if you don’t start writing on it, I’m going to steal your idea. He will publish his fourth novel this fall. Maybe that’s the push I need.

    1. Rochelle Melander

      Harvey! I like J. A. Jance’s advice: sit down and write! I am looking forward to reading the WHOLE novel! 🙂

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