The cost of self doubt

I’m going to lay it out there and make an admission. I’ve been in a funk. Funk about writing. Funk about winter (there’s no snow!). Funk about my weight. You name it, I’ve found a reason to walk around the house with a hang dog look and long for inspiration, spring, a miracle diet solution … whatever.

But here’s the deal. I really have nothing to be blue about. Life’s pretty good. Health is pretty good and I’ve actually lost some weight this winter. I’m earning a living writing and my family is fantastic. Of course – life is much more complicated than to boil it down into a few sentences but the bottom line is, it’s my attitude that sucks. And it shames me.

major losermages

So I decided enough is enough and to do something about it. First step: figure out what was really eating at me. What was making me go into my office every morning and instead of writing like crazy, find myself in the middle of the afternoon still playing on-line Scrabble like it was THE most important activity I could possibly engage in?


I REALLY don’t have time for this – and yet … I’ve played a heck of a lot more Scrabble games lately than I’ve written pages. Not good.

Okay. Right about now, you might be asking yourself – Huh? She’s got over 40 books under her belt, lucked into some awards and has consistent appearances on the NYT and other best seller lists. What the HECK does she have to feel self-doubt about? Trust me – I’ve asked myself the same question but the bottom line is, self-doubt, my friends has been my problem.

I’m waffling over every word on my new project, second guessing, questioning, wondering if this is the book that is finally going to expose me a fake and a fraud. What is up with that?

So – I figured I needed to find the cause which resulted in this effect. I started cruising a few blogs, ‘searching for the truth, grasshopper’ and I stumbled upon a couple of posts that really resonated with me. Both were written by successful writers and both were about self-doubt and the creative writing process. Wow, did the light bulbs flash on. Might have even heard a few bells and whistles. I want to share the links with you here because whether you’re a successful or a struggling writer or whether you’re grappling with other aspects of your life or creative process, these two blogs will surely hit a note or two that you can relate to.

Blog one: Allison Brennan’s: Spear the Monster on Murder She Wrote:

Blog two: Harry and Susan Squires, Writers In the Storm blog

Both Allison and Susan are friends of mine. And both are very successful writers – yet both struggle with self doubt and the creative process. There is nothing I could say as well as the two of them said in these two separate posts that approach the issue from different angles. I want to thank them publically for sharing.

The over-arching messages that I took away from these posts is that I am not alone and that there are tools available to help me and other writers who are feeling the same sense of ineptitude, loss of creativity and have stalled at one time or another because of the weight of self doubt. And trust me – there is strength knowing that there are ‘numbers’ out there.  I’m not alone in my struggle. It’s how you control your reactions that determine your fate – as a person, as a creative force, as a success.

I’m determined to employ some of their suggestions to get past this ‘punk’ I’ve let myself wander in to.

My question to you is, do you ever experience self-doubt? And if so, do you have some ‘jump starts’ that you’ve found successful to help you get back in the groove? One thing I’m resolving to do is go back and read Anne Lamot’s Bird By Bird. I always find inspiration in the pages of that book.


P.S. Watch for LAST MAN STANDING available January 31st, 2012!


About cindygerard

Cindy Gerard is a New York Times best-selling author of action packed romantic suspense novels. Learn more about Cindy at
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28 Responses to The cost of self doubt

  1. Sonya Natalia says:

    I definitely know the feeling, and have had a pretty lazy few weeks. But then I woke up today all ready to get a lot of work done, and – my computer broke!

    I cannot wait for Last Man Standing. I have been searching for more romantic suspense in the last few weeks, but there just isn’t enough of it as far as I’m concerned!

  2. Sonya Natalia says:

    I should probably explain I’m posting from a different computer – one without all my work on it!

  3. I am mayor of Self-Doubtville. My debut is next month, My second book is NOT going well. Every word comes as slow as molasses in winter. And I worry and fret over each and every one. This is not good.
    Thanks for your words today. I needed to read them.

  4. Hi Cindy: I hit it this weekend. I’m not published yet and I’m going crazy with waiting and waiting and waiting. I wrote about it in my blog because I seriously considered quitting on Sunday. But I know I am close to getting there, too. Still, I spent Sunday doing something very different from the writing. I shopped for pillows and went online to buy stuff for my media room. I gave myself permission to just get mad and rebelled. The people in my writing world and in my personal world got it and my frustration. And in the end, I resolved to win at this game for the billionth time. I love your quote “It’s how you control your reactions that determine your fate – as a person, as a creative force, as a success.” I am giving myself a bit of a break before I push into this current revision (after a week of trying to write through the blank wall and discovering what was wrong so I could fix it AGAIN–which is probably why I was so angsty). It’s good to know I’m not alone and that even a multi-published author gets into these negativity spirals. So for now, I’m not worrying about the words at all. I’m reading other people’s words and giving myself time to regroup mentally so I can work smart when I sit down to wrangle my mangled mess into shape.

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Christine, in this business it truly is a question of perseverance and not letting the self-doubt demons get you down. And a break is a great idea. Give yourself time to get those creative and positive juices flowing again. good luck!

  5. Cindy Gerard says:

    Sonja – when the computer breaks, it does make you wonder if things are conspiring against you – glad to hear you’re not going to let it get you down!

  6. Cindy Gerard says:

    Cynthia – congratulations on your debut!! What an accomplishment. When you’re struggling over your current WIP, just sit back and look at that first one, tell youself that you did it and you can do it again!!

  7. michelehauf says:

    Thanks for sharing those links, Cindy! You are not alone! And don’t you think doubt is necessary? Because if we just streamed through life always confident and sure, then where would the challenge be that would push us to strive harder? Yes?

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      I agree, Michele … a little healthy self-doubt is good. Keeps you honest and on your toes. It’s when it bogs you down and bottlenecks creativity that you need to wrangle the critter and show it who’s boss :o)

  8. MJ Heather says:

    I do understand self-doubt, but rather than empathy how about some encouragement? I have been reading your books since Loveswept. Slow Burn remains one of my all time favourites. I lost track of you after Loveswept went away and didn’t rediscover you until I chanced to see Plowboy’s story on the shelf. I bought it on a 15 year old memory of how much I had enjoyed your romances. After reading about Jason I then went out and found every one of the Bodyguards and picked up the first BOI book which was then on sale. And thank goodness for the internet and Kindle – and the fact that Harlequin is finally making many of its older novels available for purchase in digital format. I have now readd nearly everything on your published list. You are one of those go=o authors for me. I don’t need to read the back of the book. If it has your name on it I know I’m going to enjoy it and keep it on the shelf to read again someday. You’re not a fraud – you have a definate way with characters and tension and the ability to write men as men. Nora Roberts is about the only other female author I read who can truly seem to write male characters who ring true. I hope we finally get some snow – it’s not my favourite stuff, but not having any really ahs made this winter seem longer and more dismal. And I hope you get some sunshine. Mostly just know that you have a devoted fan who turns to your writing when she needs a bit of an escape from her own occasional dismals.

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Oh Wow, M.J. I’m framing this post! Thanks so much. I truly wasn’t looking for flattery but which it’s dished up at sweetly as that, I’ll take it!
      Thanks for making my day.

  9. Cindy Gerard says:

    I meant … WHEN (not which) it’s dished out. urg

    • MJ says:

      *snicker* Well there were plenty of typos in my comment. Cell phones are great, but not so much for typing long comments. 🙂

  10. PatriciaW says:

    Exactly the post I needed today since I’ve been very sluggish about finishing the draft of the story I began during NaNo. I was so excited, but I realize giving myself a break after a writing marathon allowed self-doubt to creep in. Been taking baby steps like reviewing my synopsis and my last chapter written, but determined to get back to it today. Nice to know (I think) that published authors go through this too.

  11. Cindy Gerard says:

    Yes, it is nice to know that we are not alone. And that we CAN do something about it! Good luck with the WIP Patricia! Just put your head down and take it one word at a time if you have to. :o)

  12. kylie brant says:

    I don’t know of a writer alive who doesn’t struggle with self-doubt. For me, it’s especially bad when I’m changing genres, changing series, etc. It’s like by tackling something new I’m no longer confident I can do it anymore. It’s crazy. Both articles are great. I’m going to make note of them to return to.

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Glad you liked the articles, Kylie. It’s becoming more and more obvious that many writers struggle with this very same issue. Must be all the solitary time with nothing but us, the blinking cursor and that devil on our shoulder :o)

  13. loisgreiman says:

    Sing it Sister Cindy!!! Holy cow, if I ever run into a talented writer who doesn’t worry about everrrrry word I plan to stone her. This is a business that fosters doubts, that breeds insecurities. But you are a great writer. Push through. And thanks for sharing.

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Lois … my sister from another mother …. you never did tell me if there was blood letting involved in making our ‘sibling’ union official :o)

      And I love to sing LOL

  14. Mary Louise says:

    Cindy. Self doubt? All the time. Especially when I face a new class (part time fitness instructor). However, I call on my experience and seek to provide a work out that will have the class feel the heat. I show no mercy and take no prisoners taking the class to the brink of exhaustion. No one ever whispers no lies or complains I went over the line. Not even when those muscles start a slow burn between midnight and morning. Yep, self doubt? I guess I look at every situation as an opportunity to learn and grow or at least, to be the last (wo)man standing! Mary Louise

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      LOL, Mary Louise. You have LITERALLY made me Laugh Out Loud. Holy cow … very clever, you got at least 9 of my book titles in there. I love it.
      I have a feeling you are a GREAT motivator for your classes!
      Thanks for the grins

  15. Kathleen O'Donnell says:

    I think everyone pretty much has self doubt at sometime in their lives. If they don’t they aren’t human. Even the sunniest of people see a grey day now and then. And I have them, and lots of people have said I look great, but that is just on the outside. Inside there all kinds of doubts churning inside me. Things I am worried about. I have some health problems, but I am trying to work them out. We just have to find ways to get out of our funk.. For me it is going to my bookshelf and finding one of my fav authors to read.. Nothing better to get me out of my funk than making a pot of tea, put some tunes on and curl up on the couch and read.. Remember January and February are the biggest months for the “funks”.. NO snow is a good thing for me, but I will tell you there is nothing like snow to brighten your day on a cold sunny winter day…

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      You’re so right, Kathleen. and aren’t we lucky to have so many diversions to help us out of those funks we get ourselves into. Here’s hoping your get on top of your health issues and have a fantastic 2012~,

  16. Catherine Carriger says:

    Can NOT wait for LMS!! Self doubt, ick. How about this???? You tell us what you’re working on, and we well properly pump you up and overflow you with “positivity”!!!!!
    You an do it!

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Thanks Catherine. And here’s a little scoop. I’m working on a new series called One Eyed Jacks. Book 1 (no title yet) features Mike Primetime Brown who you met in With No Remorse and will see more of in Last Man Standing.
      Thanks for all the positive vibes!!

  17. Leanne Banks says:

    Wah. I wrote a response and it went under a different topic. You’re a rock star person AND writer. Don’t forget it.

  18. Cindy Gerard says:

    Love you too, Leanne XOXO

  19. Pingback: Motivational Monday ~ Self Doubt « Alison Stone

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