Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Struggle with Your Self-Esteem

Before I start, I just want to point out that my sister and I are giving away a copy of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and a customized journal at the YA Rebels this week.

It's no secret that writers struggle with self-esteem issues. Whether it's too much or too little, there never seems to be the right amount. Too little self-esteem is what I'm struggling with right now - and it can be crippling if you let it.

That's the thing about this writing business - most people will never feel like they're good enough. I know writers with many published award-winning books who still doubt their ability, even their worth. But maybe that's not such a bad thing. Thinking you're not good enough pushes you to make yourself better, to improve your craft. Even if you're not "good enough" now, you will be.

As long as you don't give up, you will continue to get better. Each book will be better than the last. Each query will be more enticing than the last. Heck, each blog post will be more engaging than the last. (I hope)

Not quitting is the hardest part. Yes, quitting is so so easy. It takes absolutely no effort to not open up that word document and get those words in. Not doing a complete novel revision will be the easiest thing you will ever do. If you never send that query letter to an agent, you will never have to suffer the sting of rejection.

But it won't be satisfying. If you are truly a writer, not writing will tear you apart.

Your self doubt will lie to you. It will tell you that what you're trying to do doesn't matter, isn't important, isn't worth the struggle. Do what you have to to shut it up. Put duct tape over its mouth. Shove it into the cone of silence. Let the sound of your friends' encouragement and the tapping of your computer keys drown out its noise. 

Leave some encouragement down in the comments for me and anyone else struggling with their writing self-esteem right now. And let us know how you deal with it!


  1. Great post! Quitting is easy, but believing and truly being a writer is so much better.

    For me, I just try to power through. I try to write every day, no matter what. Lately I've allowed myself to count my time writing in my journal as daily writing progress, just to get over this hump.

    You can do it! Just keep writing, and know that your tales are worth telling.

  2. I posted a "do give up" post on Friday. When my novel didn't make it to the next level in the ABNA contest, I was mad and felt rejected. So, what did I do? Queried that novel to a few agents. I have had a two for two success so far on it. (two queries/two full requests)

    SO even though it didn't get through and I had one bad review I struggled with self doubt and overcame it. Determination goes along hand-in-hand with talent.

    Have a great weekend, Sarah.

  3. I think we all go through those 'I'll never be good enough, so why don't I just quit' moments. I know I did this week, but you know what happened? I found a way into a project I abandoned a long time ago, and now I'm all fired up to get writing again. So much for quitting.... It lasted all of about 24 hours.

  4. Somtimes it seems easier to ignore that little voice in your head, the one that whispers your ideas to you and urges you to give them life. To you, these words mean something. You just wish they meant something to other people.

    They do and they will. Keep writing down the words. Keep sharing them with others. Because one day someone will pick them up and you will take their breath away.

  5. I keep things in perspective and never let anyone tell me that I can't do something.

  6. Great post Sarah. I know some days I feel like hitting my head against a brick wall, then other days I feel like it's all worth it.

  7. I like the scale method. I weigh how bad I feel when I am rejected, or just have a day when everything I write sounds like crap against how bad I know I would feel if I gave up.

    That usually shakes me out of any self-esteem crisis.

    I think it helps that I have no hard deadlines or life goals I feel the need to achieve in order to continue writing. I love it. And that's all that really matters.

  8. Quitting would be the easiest thing to do.
    Reading this post made me feel so much better, especially to know that I'm not alone in this.

    Someone recently critiqued a piece for me and they wrote this comment in the critique, "If you can't write short stories, then you can't write stories. Period." I read that comment and my heart sank. For a little bit I felt like that person was right, that maybe I was wasting my time. I have tried to explain to this group that critiqued my piece that I don't want to write short stories at this point and time that I'm novels all the way. Needless to say, I didn't write that day or today and it's tearing me up. The story is scratching at me to get out onto the paper. (I will be writing all day tomorrow)

    That's when I realized that perhaps I just needed to remove that person from my circle and then seen the support I had from some of my friends and reading this post it made me happy.

    To other writers out there I say this: If you stop writing for even a day and you feel like the story is trying to escape you and you know in your heart that you want to continue your story, then by all means do it. Don't listen to the people who tell you can't do it. You can do anything you put your mind to.

    Thanks for making this blog post. :)

  9. Thanks for this blog, YATopia, I needed it today. My manuscript got some needed but difficult to swallow critique, and the idea of having to tear it down and rebuild it is terrifying. But I believe in this story, and I'll do this. It's not over unless I give up.

  10. Great post! Whenever I get frustrated or discouraged, I try and remember the reason I'm writing in the first place, and all the hours of story-dreaming and the euphoria of frantic typing, jotting, and scribbling as ideas pour out. When I remember all those moments, it's so much easier to put critiques in context. Ultimately they are just perspectives. Some critiques are mood-based opinions. Some say more about the reader's bad day at work than my story. Many more are incredibly thoughtful and helpful. So if I can stop and remember that I'm writing because I love it, I can take a breath and use the critiques to improve my story - moving it one step closer to publication!

  11. This post is so timely! My husband and I were out for a bike ride around the neighborhood yesterday when he basically informed me that he felt like his writing was going nowhere, so he planned to quit. (I think he wanted to see me crash into a tree.) He is frustrated that the series he has been writing on and off for more than a decade isn't coming naturally and isn't completed, and he thinks he isn't a good writer. (He is very wrong. Some of the things he writes are amazing.) Just after we got home, I saw this post and sent him a link. I think he plans to write his own blog post in response, but he said your post was very helpful.

    Sarah, one of the things I admire most about you is that you're the sharing sort. (As an only child, I don't find sharing to be easy.) Not only are you happy to share resources, contacts, etc, but you are always sharing your experiences in the hopes that they will benefit others. It can also be difficult to share something like this and point out what you consider a weakness or soft spot of your own, but I think your ability to do that turns it into a strength!Keeping a feeling like this secret isolates you, but sharing it just deepens your connection with other writers.

    I don't want to gush too much about how awesome I think you are... but you constantly inspire me to reach out to other writers and give a shout out if they do something amazing. You use social media for positive purposes, you are involved in a million different and exciting things, and you are always there to encourage others. I don't know what has you down, but I recently broke through a serious writing dry spell (about three and a half years long), and I know you're right: it does get better.

    ...and you still rock my socks!