10 Career-Killing Doubts and How To Squash Them For Writers

Yesterday, I said I’d be using Tuesdays to talk about Success. So, I ran across a Facebook status by the lovely Mette Harrison that inspired this post. Let me know if the link ever breaks.

For ten years, I’ve fought these devils of doubt in my own writing. Most of them are like little ankle-biting dragons that go straight for a writer’s (or artist’s) Achilles’ heel. You know, the ones that have acid-dripping teeth and venom? And some of them aren’t so little?

I’m here to show you how to squash them before they kill your career. Let’s jump right in.

1. Procrastination. It’s too hard today. I’ll do it tomorrow.

Everything worth doing is hard. Is this worth it to you? Then DO IT!

Remember, success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal? If you’re not writing, you’re not progressing as a writer. You’re not realizing the ideal.

End of story.

2. “I’m not good enough.”


Do it anyway. Get better with practice. Beethoven didn’t write ONE symphony to become known as the best composer in the world. He wrote nine.

And 32 piano sonatas, one opera, five piano concertos, and many chamber works including some ground-breaking string quartets.

The point is the man was prolific. He composed. Constantly. AND HE WAS DEAF.

I hope you heard that. Stop looking for excuses. Start writing.

3. There’s something wrong and I don’t know what it is.

Read a craft book. Swallow your pride. LISTEN TO THAT CRAFT BOOK.

Tomorrow is Behind The Scenes, so we’ll cover this at length, but long story short, it’s probably not a lack of creativity or inspiration.

You’re probably too creative for your own good.

Keep creative at the heart of the story, and LEARN YOUR CRAFT. Pride will get you nowhere.

4. I don’t have enough focused time to do this.

Do you watch Netflix, YouTube, T.V., evening news, scroll your phone, etc? You have time.

Before you quibble, yes neurodiversity exists, and individual writers only have so many minutes of writerly focus a day.

And we routinely sabotage it. When I had regular connectivity, I ate every meal while zoning out to a show on Netflix. All in the name of “focus.” Wasted at least three hours a day that I could have been writing.

What was I thinking?

You want focused time? Shut off your Wi-Fi router, shove your phone in a safe, and make it!

5. I need quiet and perfect working conditions.

I just edited half of this while surrounded by chatting nieces and nephews. Yet when I had my own home office, I wasted inordinate amounts of time on Facebook pretending to be “productive.”

I yearned for a better desk, better work environment, better this, better that.

The more perfect your working conditions, the more you will complain. You need grit, not perfect conditions.

6. I need more support from other writers and from my family members to write.

No. Writers are unicorns. Successful ones don’t exist and people ignore the evidence right under their noses. Like entire bookshelves of technical manuals, pop psychology, and fantasy. Get stubborn and do it anyway.

This happened to a mentor of mine. She informed a stock-brocker that she wanted to be a writer. The full, and hilarious story, in her post Good Things Happen to Those Who Hustle—Getting PAID to Write.

The point is, if you want to go pro as a writer, you’re on your own. We have to hustle, and we have to respect ourselves. After all, taking a writing career seriously is impractical, dangerous, and shouldn’t you be doing something more productive with your time?

I don’t know. How many job openings do you have?

Sorry, unicorn professional author, you’re on your own.

On the other hand, come to WANATribe! Seriously. We’ll take you seriously even if no one else will.

7. Other things are more pressing than writing, even though they matter to me less.


Ever read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? I never finished it. I do remember the difference between Urgent and Important.

Urgent has to be done now.

Important? That MUST BE DONE.

You want to make a career of writing? Then writing is BOTH! The other Urgent stuff? Let it go!

8. First drafts suck and I hate writing them.

First drafts do suck. No one enjoys mining ore by hand. If you ever want to find the ore worth refining in revisions though, then you’d BETTER write the first draft.

9. There’s really no hope of success so why even try?

No one wins a race by staring at the finish line. Run, damn it! Write!

I’m not spending more words on this.

10. I tried writing to a trend and it didn’t sell, so I give up.

Because by the time you finished, the trend passed. Don’t write trendy. Write REAL. Write what’s universal. Love, pain, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness, striving, success, failure.

In women’s fashion, we have 52 seasons a year. One for every week. Even on my best week, I can’t write, revise, have beta read, send out for editing, finalize, get cover art for, finalize cover art for, and publish a novel, or even a novella. It’s not happening.

Anyone who tells you it can be done probably just sold you a webinar.

It takes at minimum, for a practiced author, a few months to put together a completely polished manuscript. By then, the trend has passed. Why do you think trend books have such a high error rate? ;P

So don’t write to the trend. Write the stories written on your heart, and in the meantime, figure out some way to pay the bills until your stories do.

Yes, most of these relate to writers, and I wrote the tips for writers, but I know I’ve got non-writers out there as well. How do you deal with some of these when you come across them? What are your favorite tools to fight back against the ankle-biting dragons? I’d love to hear your favorite tips and tricks in the comments!

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