The Truth about Self-Doubt and 10 Ways to Beat It

A lot of times, people like to show only their good sides on the Internet. Posting on Facebook about the cute thing their kid or dog did, lightly bragging about new life events, or showing the greatest new recipe they made, even though the previous night was mac ‘n cheese from a box. I do it too, and I know for my family following along from afar, they like to see I’m doing well, and they like seeing pictures of my cute kids. It’s all good.

But regardless of your role or however shiny life appears, there’s always a degree of self-doubt, isn’t there? It comes on strong if you’re a parent. EVERYONE has an opinion. And at work, there’s always the question of why didn’t I get that promotion yet? Am I not doing everything that I could be? Or is my manager not seeing it?

I follow a lot of fashion blogs, and those beautiful women all seem to have a post somewhere about how to avoid comparisons and beat self-doubt when someone else is getting more sponsorships or more Instagram likes, etc. It’s a competitive world out there. Even when we’re all on the same team. And I do believe that all authors are on the same team.

So as an author, here’s my post like that. Hopefully it helps someone, even if it’s just a self-serving pep talk in the end.

Lately, The Doubt has been hitting me as I work on drafts of my new series, which are modern Jane Austen retellings. My first book is with beta readers, and I’m about a quarter of the way through writing my second book. (By the way, if you would like to be a beta reader or receive an advanced copy for review, do let me know!)

Because I’ve only heard back from one beta reader so far (at the time of writing this), who gave me really great feedback, I keep thinking that everyone else who’s reading it hates it and is too afraid to tell me. I take constructive criticism well, but even I get frustrated when people don’t “get” what I’m trying to do. Maybe it really is no good. Maybe my readers won’t get it either. Maybe I should uproot the thing and change the whole setting. On the other hand, maybe they’re just busy?

I just won two awards. I should be soaring with confidence right now, right? Yes and no. Impostor syndrome is real. With that honor comes a feeling of dread as to whether I really deserved it or whether the next books I write will be any good. I should be improving every time, right? But what if what I’m writing right now is crap? What if it’s not real? I sure hope I haven’t peaked already.

And I won’t even get into the moments of discouragement when comparing my sales numbers to other authors. That’s a whole other aspect I’m trying not to worry about as I’m drafting. Honestly, some days I feel like I’m never going to sell a book again. As I keep telling people, “award-winning” does not equal “famous.” I’m not saying this to complain. I love that anyone is interested in what I do, but I do think it’s valuable to occasionally reveal the not-so-shiny sides of life, too. We’re all human.

Here are ten ways I beat The Doubt, or at least beat it down temporarily:

  1. Get offline. My husband and daughters don’t care how many likes I have on Facebook.
  2. Hang out with friends. Whether I talk about what’s troubling me or not, a good belly laugh always helps.
  3. Listen to music. I have a few songs that never fail to motivate me, including “The Greatest” by Sia and “Work That Body” by Walk the Moon.
  4. Pray. I don’t do it as often as I should, but I couldn’t not mention it.
  5. Journal. Another thing I don’t do often enough, but it puts things into perspective when I do.
  6. Keep working. Right now, I’m all but ignoring book one to focus on book two.
  7. Work out. I have a few group classes I like to participate in, and if I skip them too many times, I notice that I start to get bummed out.
  8. Be realistic. Everyone, at every level, has been here before. It helps to remind myself of that. And that first drafts are supposed to suck. It’s practically a rule.
  9. Indulge. Just a little. Going crazy doesn’t make me feel any better, but getting a sugary Starbucks drink or wearing new clothes works as a quick pick-me-up.
  10. Ask for help. Sometimes problems are bigger than you and me, and sometimes it’s a good idea for a professional to step in.

Any other ideas you have for beating self-doubt?