I wish I could say it gets easier. That you reach a point where it goes away. But no matter where you are on the path to publication, there is self doubt. I faced it when querying, indie publishing, and promoting.
It creeps up on you, steals over your heart, tilts your perception, and sends you into a funk.
I just tackled a pretty nasty bout of self doubt–the kind where I convince myself that I’ve accomplished nothing. That everything I’ve done to date was a waste of time because there were no real results. The next conclusion is that if I accomplished nothing, I must suck at what I’m doing. And then I start thinking I need to do something else, but there’s nothing else I want to do.
This negative thought cycle feeds on itself. Growing stronger and stronger until the way forward feels doomed. Hopeless. And there is no other way.
Because it’s all unfolding inside my mind, there’s no escape. I can’t just walk away from the naysayer because the naysayer is me.
So I wallow. I let myself feel every second of it.
It usually lasts a few days. Because that’s how long it takes me to realize I don’t want to feel this way.
Then I reach for things that will make me feel better.
1) Talk to friends and family.
I send uber dramatic texts about sitting on a snowpile and crowning myself the Queen of Desolation.
But we keep talking until someone says something that undermines my negative thought process. It doesn’t have to be much, just a few bits of logic that I can mull over and eventually use to turn around my own thoughts.
2) Watch My Little Pony.
I need a simple world of happy endings. My crit partner recommended this kid’s show to me. And she was 100% right.
3) Listen to music that inspires.
I loved Magic Knights of Rayearth as an anime. The opening song always felt so positive–it’s my go to song when I lose faith.
4) Read any positive feedback received.
I read my 4 & 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads over again. Sometimes I reread Harlequin’s offer email. Or ICM’s offer of representation email. It helps to remind your mind that things have gotten done and progress has been made, even if you aren’t exactly where you want to be. You are somewhere different than you were a year ago.
5) Find something to control and control the heck out of it.
This weekend, I dusted and vacuumed my room and cleaned and organized my closet. Five hours of organizing. Accomplishing something improved my mood.
That’s what I love most about being an author. And when I’m doing that everything else falls away.
What do you do to beat back the self-doubt demons?