Good morning world-builders and inspiration seekers! I hope you’ve had a great week.
I’ve come from a week of writer’s doubt myself, and I’m sure you all know that crushing feeling. All those questions; what if I’m not good enough? Is this all a bunch of rubbish? What the hell am I doing?!
So I thought I’d share some advice on what to do when you’re doubting your manuscript. Because it happens to us all, and it can be a battle to beat the slump and keep on going.
1. Re-read your opening chapter(s)
For many writers, myself included, story ideas come in the form of a beginning, an opening that sparks the idea of a plot. For some, it may not be the very first chapter, but the ending or a mid-plot point. Whatever it was, re-read it. It’ll remind you of the excitement you had when the idea first formed, and remind you what you loved so much about it. It’ll force you to think of all the reasons you wanted and needed to write the story down in the first place. Going back to stage one is a great way to stop you doubting your manuscript and re-ignite the flame of determination.
2. If you’re editing, read an edited chapter
If you’re at the editing stage when the doubt comes crawling in, go back and read an edited chapter. For me, I realised my chapter 9 was a mess, and wondered if the whole story was just set to be an un-fixable disaster. So I went back and re-read the chapters I’d already edited…they may still need work, but it helped me to realise that it’s always possible to turn messy, ugly chapters into something more. You should always do the same, to remind yourself that you’ll get there. It just takes time.
3. Seek feedback
When you only have yourself as a critic you’ll naturally see the worst in your story. You’ll be hard on yourself, or wonder if anyone but you would enjoy the story. Seeking feedback will give you honest advice, on what to fix and on what works. Hearing words of encouragement from somebody else can wipe away your manuscript doubt, and leave you confident to go forward.
4. Read a book
Sometimes, you just need a break from writing. Read a book in the genre you’re writing. While you’re reading, consider what you like about it, what draws you in. Consider areas you don’t like too, things you’d change. When you return to your writing, you’ll have a better sense of what makes a story strong and what weakens it, which you can then apply to your own writing as you push forward.
5. Keep going
It really is the only way, as simple as it sounds. Keep writing, keep editing. You will only improve with practice, your manuscript will only improve with time and commitment. Don’t give up, and always remember; if you love what you’re writing, nothing else matters.
What do you do when doubt creeps in? How do you decide that your manuscript is worth perusing? Your advice will help me push through this tough few weeks of doubt and anxiety, so please share.