How to Handle Self-Doubt When Writing Your Book
Having self-doubt when writing your book is normal.
Writing your first book can be a major struggle. Like any new activity, no one starts off knowing how to plan, write, and publish a book.
But this post isn’t about not having the skills.
This is about your mindset and how self-doubt can creep in and stop you from even getting started.
Analyzing Mindset and How It Affects Your Writing
When you think of someone having self-doubt, what comes to mind?
An insecure person who lacks self-confidence? Someone who’s into woo-woo books and self-reflection?
Every single author faces self-doubt at some point during the writing and publishing process.
Fortunately, with a few mental reframes and an understanding of mindset, you’ll be able to eliminate self-doubt and build momentum towards writing your book.
What Is Growth Mindset?
“Mindset” is the assumptions and attitudes you have about something. This can be as simple as statements like:
- It’s going to be a beautiful day.
- We are going to complete this project successfully.
- This is going to be a terrible presentation.
Our mindset can be positive, neutral, or negative, and change day-to-day.
So, what do we mean by “growth mindset”?
Psychologist and growth mindset expert Dr. Carol Dweck wrote about the power of mindset in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, where she discusses the concept of fixed vs. growth mindset. A fixed mindset is where we believe we are born with certain talents and gifts, whereas a growth mindset believes that talents and gifts can be developed.
A fixed mindset keeps you disconnected from your dreams, and a growth mindset tells you that your dreams are possible.
How Does A Fixed Mindset Impact My Book?
I have these conversations every day with my clients. Super successful corporate executives, former athletes, business owners, etc. who think they can’t write a book and are ready to give up before they get started.
They start self-sabotaging the process and make excuses for why writing a book is a bad idea.
But you can develop a growth mindset by committing to putting in the work to develop the skills needed for writing a book. This can take on many forms, from planning and outlining chapters to hiring a book coach or ghostwriter.
Overcoming Self-Doubt and a Fixed Mindset
Remember: No one starts with magical book writing skills. They develop over time with lots of practice and consistency. The key is to start simple and not get caught up in word count, the number of pages, or how long the project will take. Instead, focus on the steps you can take to get started like: mind-mapping, brainstorming sessions, asking yourself high-value questions, and creating an outline.
Here are a few strategies you can use to develop a growth mindset and squash self-doubt.
#1 Brainstorm all of your book ideas
Create a list of stories, experiences, and research you may want to use in your book. Doing these types of exercises will prove you have a lot to say.
#2 Block out the time
A big project requires you to commit to yourself and your schedule. If you don’t prioritize it on your calendar, then it will probably not get done. You get busy, and another day goes by without any writing.
This does not require huge blocks of time. You can wake up 30 minutes early, write during your lunch break, or dictate notes during your morning commute.
The average person can write 500 - 1000 words per hour. If you’re writing a 40,000-word book, then that’s just 80 days of writing if you’re doing a minimum of 500 words per day. That’s less than three months!
#3 Write now; revise later
Are you a perfectionist?
If so, then writing without editing may be your biggest challenge. As professionals, we are used to making sure all of our communication, presentations, and documentation is grammatically and phonetically correct.
Writing a book is a different type of writing. Once you finish your manuscript, your book will go through at least three rounds of editing. You will have many opportunities to make changes and corrections. And those sentences you spent hours making perfect may end up on the cutting room floor before your book is published.
#4 Get help
It’s so easy to silo yourself when writing your book. You may do this for several reasons like:
- Not wanting to tell people you are working on a book in case it’s a failure.
- Feeling like you’re not an author because it’s your first book.
- You don’t know anyone writing a book and don’t know where to go for support.
Getting help and accountability is easier than you think. Facebook has a ton of groups committed to sharing information and offering encouragement. I have a Facebook group where I offer weekly how-to tips, answer questions, and encourage people to build relationships.
I offer book coaching and outlining sessions to assist people in the process. You can get more information by scheduling a call.
Final Thoughts On Self-Doubt For Writers
If the idea of writing your book stresses you out, then remind yourself why you started this project in the first place. Make a list on a sticky note and place it in your writing spot, on your bathroom mirror, or anywhere you can see it regularly.
Keep in mind that: Anything worth having requires a learning curve, dedication, and hard work.
Tie your future book to your long-term goals. Picture yourself speaking to an audience about your book. Imagine the new business and exposure you will gain as an author. Think of the new people you will reach with your thoughts and ideas.