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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Slaying the Doubt Monster

Call it stress. Name it fear. But if you shine a flashlight into the darkest corner of your heart, I suspect you'll find what most writers encounter baring its fangs at you.


This wicked ugly creature frequently attacks writers, especially during November. Why? NANOWRIMO…when dutiful author wannabes everywhere are typing their little fingers to nubs and wondering if their hard work is worth it.

There’s no better way to slay this dragon than meeting it head on. So slap on some armor and let’s sattack the top 3 doubts most writers struggle with.

I stink at this writing game, as evidenced by my lack of garnering a publisher.
Maybe I should just give up.

Okay, so I’m not going to lie. Landing a contract and getting paid cash is definitely a badge of success. But it’s not the only one. Perhaps your writing journey isn’t about landing a mainstream publisher. What if your writing is meant to encourage your critique partners? Is that not valid? Maybe your writing career will spin off into a speaking career. I know several writers who gave up writing because they found out speaking was their true calling.

Honest truth…either God is sovereign or He isn’t. If He is, you’ll get that contract when He says so. It’s not about your timing. It’s about His.

What to do in the mean time? What is the silver bullet for this particular beastie? Perseverance. Immersing yourself in a new manuscript is a great way to beat back this doubt because you’ll be too busy thinking about plot twists and character development to consider giving up.

Other writers get published, but not me.
Maybe my writing is stupid.

Let’s face it. Writers are an insecure bunch. Why? Because they pour their heart and soul into a story, revealing inner secrets that they’d never say out loud. When that work gets rejected, it is personal. There’s just no way around it.

But there is a stake that can be driven through the skull of this particular doubt. It’s called sharpening your craft.

If you continue to learn and hone your writing skill, this doubt will simply turn into a lie. You can always choose to believe the lie if you like, but you won’t have to. Your writing won’t be stupid if you continue your education by attending workshops, going to conferences, and reading craft books.

So, go ahead and take that on-line course. Pick up a how-to from Writer'sDigest. Attend a local writer’s group and glean some new writing tips.

I keep writing, keep submitting, and keep getting rejected.
Maybe God wants me to be doing something else.

In a freakish sort of way, this doubt is actually good for you. It keeps you on your knees, seeking God’s will for how you manage the time He’s given you.

I don’t know if God wants you to be a writer, but I do know this…He wants you to put Him first, above writing, above anything. When you obsess over publication, networking, or anything other than Him, it’s called idolatry. And if that’s the case, then yes, you should be doing something else. You should be focusing on Him.

It’s healthy to check your heart motivations now and then to discover where your priorities lie. If this doubt rears it’s ugly head and prods you in that direction, that’s a good thing.

It’s not, however, good to wallow in this doubt. Don’t consort with this beastie and make him your best pal. If you can honestly say you’re putting God first, and still the desire to write doesn’t go away, then pull out your silver pen and drive it right into the monster’s heart.

Being honest and admitting to our doubts is the first step in fighting against them.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the or on TwitterFacebook, or 


  1. Excellent and thought-provoking advice, Michelle. Heartfelt thanks for sharing these words.

  2. Why is it this monster preys on writers and other artists? We need to capture this dude in a bottle and turn his face to the wall!

    1. Capture? Nah. I'm thinking obliterate. Where's my trusty battle axe?

  3. So challenging and encouraging! My favorite part is your perspective on numero tres. Anything can be good if it keeps me clinging to Christ, seeking, depending, hesitating to take a step forward without hearing His voice behind me saying, "This is the way, walk in it." Thankfully, He's whispering, "Keep going. I'm in this."

    Thank you for the sage reminders.

    1. Ahh, the whisper of our Savior. There is NOTHING better!

  4. Good thoughts! Thank you for the encouragement. If our writing changes one life for the better, and that's God's plan for us, then we are a success in this life. I'd rather change the whole world, but that's already been taken care of, for those who choose Him. :)

  5. Yep. You nailed me.

    So someone's been eavesdropping on my thoughts in the last 4 weeks. Which is creepy, but somehow encouraging. I must be in good company. THANK YOU for the reminder about God's sovereign timing and my job being to just get in there and focus on the next project. The one I should be racking up words for NaNo as I dawdle here...


    1. Well, if nothing else, I am a bit creepy.

    2. But really smart and encouraging, so it makes a nice balance. ;)

  6. Wonderful, articulate expression of what every writer (I think it's safe to say) struggles with! Thank you for these excellent words.

  7. You betcha. Can you tell I'm Minnesotan?

  8. Great article. Somehow it is comforting to know that all writers share these doubts, and I must remind myself of that next time they invade my mind. :) Thanks for sharing.


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