One of the most frustrating things for many writers I know is the overwhelming sense of insecurity they have about their own work. They are the epitome of the statement one's own worst critic. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to focus, put words down on paper (or screen), and write a story beginning to end. The self doubt and nagging suspicion nothing is going to be good enough can be paralyzing. It has been a large part of why each of my books has taken so long to be published.
Never Give Up was written over the course of eight years. The first chapter was written in a single day but then nothing happened for a year and a half as I was gripped with a stomach churning fear of rejection. I picked at the manuscript for years until I dedicated myself to Nanowrimo one year and pushed through to the end. It still took me another two and a half years before it went to publish however. Between editing, allowing a beta reader to see it (yikes!), and submitting to agents I was woefully ill prepared for, it was a long process. Then I had to fight that little voice inside that said to run and hide at every new turn. My heart would race, my palms were sweating, and my stomach was in knots no matter what step I was on. The day I hit publish I cried happy tears while chugging Pepto.
When that book was done I faced another major fear. What if that was the only story I ever came up with? How was I supposed to be an author if everything I had went into just one book? Once again my fear was staggering. Later that year I was hit with inspiration for what would become the second book I would write but seventh I would publish. In fact, to date I have only published four. The fifth is with my editor, the sixth is being written even now, and the seventh will be released next year at a specially planned event.
Publishing Never Give Up was extremely important to me. It was the culmination of years of work and proved I had the ability to face my fears. It was still a long time before I felt I could do it again though. The second book I published was Survivor. This book was even worse when it came to doubt and, at one point, self destructive coping methods. Telling such a personal story was mortifying and something I attempted to back out of several times. Ultimately it was the belief that what I was sharing was more important than my fears that pushed me through. Fish, Crash, Combat, and eventually Sharing Strength all have that same belief behind them. These are stories I needed to write.
I have yet another project, somewhat writing related, that is currently taking about 70% of my time and nearly all of my concentration. It is at a level of second guessing, doubting, and nerves that I feel like I am dead in the water. I am fortunate that I have a strong team around me to keep me going. When it comes to handling the doubt in my life I turn to them and ask myself if not moving forward will bring more regret than my current fear. How do you deal with doubt?