The Agony of Self-Doubt

I think I’m not unique in doubting my abilities as a writer; I suspect most writers do. It’s probably a little harder when you factor in mental illness and often-crippling depression, but self-doubt is one of the biggest hurdles there is in writing.

When I wrote 22 Scars, the biggest element of doubt I had was that my writing, the actual prose, wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny. I’ve always been told I’m a good communicator, but how well can you really trust the feedback of friends, family and colleagues? Nothing affirms your suspicions like a review stating:

[the writing] felt sterile and almost like I was reading a script.

Goodreads Review

(Luckily there were further reviews praising the writing.)

The funny thing was, throughout the creation process of 22 Scars, I never really doubted the basic premise. I always assumed it would be a worthwhile story to tell – even after the fame of Thirteen Reasons Why and other books dealing with depression, self-harm and suicide, I never really doubted that it would be a story people would want to read.

With my new novel, The Broken, however, I’m finding myself in a different position. I have a newfound confidence in my actual writing, bolstered by the positive opinions of 22 Scars; I’m just doubting that the story itself is of any interest. I mean, I guess any story can be interesting if it’s told well, but I can’t shake the nagging self-doubt that no one’s going to like this new story.

I don’t know why; it deals with trauma, dubious sexuality, domestic violence, depression and mental illness – as well as rock music, scandalous affairs and suicide. Of course, put it like that and it doesn’t exactly sound like a fun novel … but at least, perhaps, an interesting one. The ingredients are all there; I’m just doubting my ability to bake the cake.

Le sigh.

It’s one of the reasons progress on The Broken is currently so slow; every time I think of sitting down to write a few paragraphs, I wonder, why bother? Who cares?

Of course, at the end of the day, I know I care; I know I want to see it finished. And it will be – of that, I don’t doubt. I just don’t know if it will be a worthy successor to 22 Scars.

Only time will tell.

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