The Writing Diaries: Struggling with Self-Doubt

The Writing Diaries: Struggling with Self-Doubt


It's week three of Camp NaNoWrimo, and the self-doubt has kicked in. I'm stuck at 63.5k. I can see the final scene (I have written it already, so I know exactly how this story ends) and I have No. Idea. how I get from where I currently am to THAT end scene.

And it's at times like this that the self doubt really creeps in, that it really sits there, the voice in your ear, telling you "You can't write. You're not good enough. None of these words are worthy of being on the page. It's not as good as what you wrote last week. You'll never write as well again as that scene that you love and are so proud of." That's just the surface of what my brain does when it's beating itself up, and I'm sure it's the same for any of you with the Camp NaNoWriMo Week Three blues!

But this draft, for me, has been three years in the making. And it's a pretty emotionally intense story (which I love) but sustaining that level of writing is really really difficult. And - personal sidenote - when I wrote the most emotional and most intense scenes in this story, I was going through a really awful year. The last twelve months have been so positive, but the year before that I was really unhappy. The only plus side to that horrible year was that I was feeling so many feelings that were similar to my main character (which was a genuinely great coincidence - my story isn't autobiographical) that I could write that level of emotional intensity without really having to concentrate on it. It just flooded out of me, and writing was a fantastically cathartic exercise that gave me brightness when I couldn't find it anywhere else.

But now I've hit my 63k road block, I keep thinking can I even write this story if I'm happy?

Which is such a completely messed up question to ask myself. But it's true. I worry that I can't replicate that emotional intensity and so I'm never going to write emotional scenes as well as ones I've already written. Or, I can only write scenes that intense when I'm in that emotional state (which, no surprises, I'm not in any rush to get back to). That I won't be able to do this story in my head justice on the page because I just can't be emotional enough.

(God, I'm making this book sound bleak, aren't I?)

At the same time, this book is like my safe space where I'm totally me and I explore things I want to explore, and it's such an organic process. It's like having a really loose hanger and slowly hooking bits of story on to it until it's complete. And it's not all misery! There are moments when I am almost squealing at how adorable / amazing / completely kickass my characters are being and I love those too. But those scenes aren't the whole story.

And I just wish I knew what happened next.

So what can I do to address my self-doubt?

  • Leave your story. I'm blogging right now, my drafts aren't open in front of me, and I won't force myself to return to it in a hurry. I'll go for a walk, listen to a podcast, catch up on my youtube subscriptions, watch an episode of something on tele - and I won't do anything that involves writing.
  • Read a book. I was so inspired to write again a week or so ago after reading After The Fire by Will Hill (which is incredible; I can't recommend it enough. It's part of the Zoella and Friends Book Club). Reading amazing books is such a great way to spark writing inspiration or energy!
  • Look at a different story / WIP. I have the finished first draft of a fantasy adventure novel sitting on the side from a few years ago, and if I want to flex my writing muscles then that's a great place to go to for me to write but not be crippled by the same self-doubt that has hit me on my current WIP.

Good luck overcoming your week three #CampNaNoWriMo wall - and happy writing!

Katherine x

How are you finding Week Three of Camp NaNoWriMo? How do you get through the wall of self-doubt?


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