Monday, July 23, 2012

Guest Post by A.K. Flynn - The Self-Doubt Monster

Today, the lively A.K. Flynn, a member of Literary+, is a guest on my blog. She's addressing something that I still struggle with periodically--self-doubt. Read on for ten valuable tips on conquering this pesky little demon.

The Self-Doubt Monster
There are many authors that are high paid, sold millions of copies, and still they find themselves in the quandary of having self-doubt. One of my favorite authors is Dean Koontz. He had once said “I have more self-doubt than any writer I know.” Many writers have doubts and reservations regarding their literary works, and they're famous! So what does this mean for the dreamers, the enthusiasts, and the self-proclaimed novelists? Should the dreaded, dreary little monster known as self-doubt squash the opportunity to be able to spread their passions and creatively written works of art with the rest the world?

We never think that this little monster will get a hold of us, because we’re not famous and we’re not watched by the entire world in regards to our grammar and structure. (Think of Stephanie Meyer's literary upheaval.) The problem occurs when we see famous authors being criticized for their literary downfalls. It's difficult to think that our laboured efforts are really worth anything. Then there are the Bloggers who have written their work raw and bravely put it out on the Internet for the world to see, only to have negative comments tearing apart their effort and leaving it in nothing but self-doubt’s enervating wails.

Who would want to continue to write after that? The little monster finally got its earworm in your head; who are you kidding? You can’t write, look at how you placed your commas, they’re everywhere! Do you want me to splice you up? Because that’s how others will feel reading all these comma splices! Oh, did I mention your creativity for this novel was probably already about something that someone already had written and did it better than you! (Feisty little creature isn’t it?) After these types of thoughts you would feel like deleting every last word or shredding every last bit of what you’ve written, burn it, and then eat the ashes. (O.k. maybe not eat the ashes, but you would burn it, that’s probable.) However there are ways to seduce your little self-doubt monster, giving you the opportunity to grasp its mouth firmly while pinning it to your desk as you smirk with sheer enjoyment as it wriggles around trying to free itself. I will get to that in a minute!

I know for a fact that I had a very difficult time dealing with my self-doubts and when criticism hit the fan. I felt like all my self-doubts were valid and deleted three years of work and my blog five years ago. If I had continued to let that little monster get the best of me, I would not be enthralled in my passion of writing or Child and Youth Work, nor would I be writing this right now; so I want to give you a small guide that has helped me and many others tame this nasty little creature. (Self-doubts will never fully go away.) The reason I call this thing a monster or creature is because it takes on a life of its own—it can be your worst nightmare that creeps up on you or your motivation to complete your written works of art. (This can be applied in other areas of your life as well.)

  1. Remember you are not alone. Other people do have the same emotions that boil up when it comes to their fictional babies, they just may not express it.
  1. Self-doubt is part of the literary creative growth. If we never had doubt we wouldn’t be able to self-criticize our work, and we will never know if we are writing sub-par.
  1. Be kind to yourself. If you are harsh on yourself, your work will reflect that. Replace hard words with a different perspective. For example: My self-doubt’s are my insecurities showing up on paper, and no one will like it vs. I’m self-doubting this written piece because I want to make sure it is up to my standards. Doubting your work shows that you care about it!
  1. Write for yourself and not others. Once you start writing for others you lose your style, which can encapsulate the self-doubt because it’s not your literary niche. Write for you. There will always be people who love or hate your work, it's that person’s preferences, and we cannot control how someone may react to your writing.
  1. Welcome criticism like it is a kitten on your doorstep, but keep the claws at length. Criticism is something every writer must endure. It can be your worst enemy next to the self-doubt monster, but it will help you be more aware of your writing style and mindful of your mistakes to help improve your literary baby. However, poor criticism is not worth your while. To handle that, you simple say thank you for your concern; and I appreciate you reading my work. If they continue, do not give them the satisfaction by engaging.
  1. Surround yourself with other quirky, non-judgmental, and supportive writing groups, such as Literary+ and NaNoWriMo. In this kind of environment of positivity and support, it’s very hard to have the self-doubt monster whisper nasty things to you.
  1. Remember your accomplishments! They are important, writing a paragraph can be just as daunting for some as writing a novel, so relish in the moments of writing that first sentence as it is still an accomplishment to say the least.
  1. If you want to accomplish something, put mini attainable goals in place. You also cannot compare grapes to crepes. Do things at your own pace, and you will get to where you want to be.
  1. Practicing gratitude is a powerful way to tame the self-doubt monster and worries. When we’re feeling discouraged, gratitude is one of the quickest, most effective pick-me-ups around.
  1. Being a writer is all about process. It’s not about the celebratory party you have when you reach the summit of your career; it’s about the journey you experience along the way.
And as I always say “A procrastinator’s work is never done!”

More about A.K. Flynn:

Salutations! My Name is A.K. Flynn, I'm a 27 year old bright eyed bushy tailed Child and Youth Worker to be, who is very ambitious and absolutely in love with writing all sorts mind perplexing Fiction. I also tend to pour my emotions out on the screen as it  is the only thing that keeps my hectic life sane. As of right now my website and second novel seems to be a major focus and writing is my major outlet so it all pans out perfectly. Oh did I mention I was a redhead? Well now you know! So you know my writing has got to be good, because redheads are very spontaneous... (runs off into the distance babbling to herself)

G+ profile: A.K. Flynn


  1. well written and this goes beyond just writing but into every aspect of our lives where we are trying or wanting to put something out there in the universe but decide not to out of fear and self doubt.

  2. Thanks so much for stopping by A.K.! Excellent advice from start to finish. Number 8 is a favorite of mine. I have to break things down in manageable chunks or I'll go crazy. :)

  3. Awesome advice! I especially like #6 & 7

  4. Thank you so much for having me its been a pleasure :)

  5. Finally got around to reading this. Nice one, AK! A great start to the tour! :)