That Dreaded Thing Called ‘Self Doubt’

I recently read somewhere that if you are extremely passionate about something, then that thing is probably ‘your calling’.

How many times has it happened that we really care about something deeply, only to not pursue it seriously?

I know it happens to me frequently enough. The most recent instance being my desire to write a novel. It has been on my mind ever since I quit my job. That means almost six months now. It took me long enough to discover my calling for writing. Each time the thought was that I’ll get down to it some day, soon enough. Each time I convinced myself that I wasn’t yet ready for it. Each time I persuaded myself that my writing skills needed further improvement. (They still do!)

Even after I decided to turn a full-time writer, the ‘learning to write better’ phase continues. I had earlier decided to participate in NaNoWriMo in November and I started my preparations for it. Every article I read about writing a novel, character building, plot development, flow and sequence of narration, book publishing and marketing gave me new insights but not the assurance I needed.

A 3-day workshop in Alibaug followed by an Authors Meet in Mumbai gave me a huge burst of inspiration but again, not the confidence. In fact, right after coming back from Mumbai I had been at my happiest. I had had a whale of a time – making new friends, imbibing new learnings, and those experiences enriched me as a person. I was raring to go. I was looking forward to writing about my experiences and sharing all my photographs. And yet, nothing got done. I couldn’t manage to even read the books I had brought back or blogs I had discovered, let alone write – that increasingly bogged me down.

Write, Write, Write. I remembered the advice shoved down every new writer’s throat. And here, I hadn’t written for over a week. Not to mention the money factor. Still unable to earn a penny through my writing, I felt even more useless and worthless. The guilt gnawing at me, I felt further down in the dumps.

It had become a vicious circle. The lack of confidence was causing me not to write. Not writing was causing the lack of confidence. I didn’t think myself to be ready. I had already signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, for the April challenge. I hadn’t yet figured out the hows’ and whats’. Needless to say, it made me even more apprehensive.

Was I already setting myself up to fail? If I hadn’t yet figured out what to write about, what would be the end result?! In fact, would I actually be able to write at all? Were all these self-doubts proving to be my downfall? These thoughts plagued my mind.

You are what you think, they say. Here, I was well aware of my state of confusion and doubt.

They also say angels come in various disguises. Mine were my parents and my writer friends. They rallied around me and upon their advice, I stepped away from it all. (Thank you all!) That break was all I needed, I guess.

After every high, comes a low. After every sunset, comes a sunrise.

But what was meant to be a 2-day break from blogging/writing turned into a 10-day disconnect as the break stretched on. (In case you were wondering, this was also why I hadn’t written any new story in the past few days.) One day more, I thought every day.

Until that one moment, when I just decided to do it. It was exactly like that – as easy as the snap of a finger. I was going to write a novel, I decided. Good or bad, didn’t matter. I would take the challenge and see where I go with it. I would try. I would give it my best shot. I may fail. I shall pick up myself and try again. And try I shall, until I succeed.

Writing has given me my biggest gift ever – my true calling; true friends and some of life’s best lessons.

Give it your best shot!

I am glad to have broken out of this particular spell of self-doubt. I know it will strike again. I shall deal with it and beat it yet again – whether through humour or binge-watching movies and TV shows.

Have you experienced such a moment? How did you deal with it? Share your feedback and experiences via the comment box below.

No Comments
  • Josh Gross | The Jaguar
    Posted at 00:35h, 31 March Reply

    Self-doubt has been a constant companion of mine, but I’ve yet to experience it to such a level on my current journey. It became intense while I was still focused on mental health counseling, but that’s because on some level I knew I was headed in the wrong direction.

    However, based on what I’ve observed from people who are undoubtedly pursuing their passions; the high-highs seem to be complimented by low-lows. I think that’s because you’re doing something that you truly care about. This means that when things go well, the elation is incredible. But when they don’t, such as during your recent writing slump, it feels awful. To me this is further evidence that you’re following your calling. It’s also good that you’ve broken out of that slump. There will doubtlessly be more challenges in the future, and now you’re better prepared to handle them.

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  • aurawithwriting
    Posted at 01:25h, 31 March Reply

    I believe there would not be anyone without self doubt, especially the ones that are NOT among the herd! I had many situations where I constantly doubted myself. And I feel that’s a good thing in a way. Because we tend to learn more before actually putting a step forward. This is more of a perfectionist kind of problem. At the same time, there will come a time when you will be vexed with this phase of your’s. That’s when self doubt dies. That’s when you put all your learnings you’ve been doing all this while into practice. A well wisher advised me that “being confident is the ability to do mistakes without fear. It’s all in the process of learning!” As long as you are determined to follow your heart, just go for it! Do not worry about the result and keep learning! You will definitely be passing through phase ‘n’ number of times. Testing times are only a way of letting you know, that you will rise above all. If there are no lows, there is no success according to me. Keep learning and keep writing! 🙂

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 04:02h, 31 March Reply

      Thanks, Aura! Shall be sure to take that advise. 🙂

  • suzannebowditch
    Posted at 02:35h, 31 March Reply

    Self doubt can happen in any sphere of life, but I think for a writer it is highlighted. Writing can be such an isolating profession – on the one hand, the writer needs solitude and quiet in order to think, and on the other hand, needs companionship and interaction with others. That is why it is so important for the writer to actively join any writing communities that are able to – we humans like to socialise or we become depressed and anxious. I have recently found blogging to be a good way of gathering ideas and inspiration and for sharing ourselves in a way that we may not face to face.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this post – I am with you all the way. Writing is frustrating, but satisfying also! 🙂

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 04:01h, 31 March Reply

      I completely agree, Suzanne. And I think, this paradox exists in me too. The overly social yet enjoying solitude kind of persona is so me. 😀 Glad we are so in sync 😀

  • Anand
    Posted at 02:39h, 31 March Reply

    I too had given NaNoWriMo a thought – but in retrospect, I am glad I didn’t participate. I might this year. Summers might be a more relaxed time to get into a writing experiment. All I can say is, there are enough things happening in your environment trying to stop you from following your dreams, don’t let self-doubt fuel their efforts. The best for your novel – I am sure it would be a great read – quite like your blog posts and your articles in the QSM Magazine.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 03:59h, 31 March Reply

      Camp NaNo starts tomorrow, in case if you are interested. You could work on a comic or a proper novel.
      Yes, NaNoWriMo is a sure thing. We can push each other . 🙂

      • Anand
        Posted at 04:10h, 31 March Reply

        No way – not now. Too much on my plate still! But best to you for your first novel.

        • Wandering Soul
          Posted at 04:27h, 31 March Reply

          Ok. November NaNoWriMo it is then. Thank you so much 🙂 Going by the past track record, shall need the good wishes 😀

          • Anand
            Posted at 05:59h, 31 March

            I should be ready for it by November. I wonder if a longer read of Anand’s misadventures would interest the readers.

          • Wandering Soul
            Posted at 06:02h, 31 March

            It most definitely would. Also, Anandhotep’s. 😉 And I am pretty sure you would rock fiction too 🙂

          • Anand
            Posted at 06:36h, 31 March

            Ok…so with this remark, you have confirmed that you’ll be my first reader.

          • Wandering Soul
            Posted at 06:58h, 31 March

            Absolutely. Even before its published 🙂 You can hold me to that.

          • Anand
            Posted at 12:29h, 31 March

            Published? Oh, books get published too! Wonder why it escaped me.

  • Feelings and Freedom
    Posted at 02:47h, 31 March Reply

    Though it is not uncommon for anyone to go through this phase of self doubt many times in life but I am quite surprised that it happened with you as you are the one who’s always pulling people out of their slumber 😉
    But I was confident and I am quite happy that you gathered the courage to restart your journey. As they say “Rest if you must, but don’t you quit” !!!All the very best to you!!

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 03:57h, 31 March Reply

      Thanks! Also, for standing by me and waiting for me to ‘bounce’ back. 🙂

  • lisamariagardiner
    Posted at 03:49h, 31 March Reply

    Write that novel – even if it’s just for your eyes – write it anyway 😊 x

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 03:56h, 31 March Reply

      Thanks, Lisa! That kind of support means so much to me. Hugs! 🙂

  • mandibelle16
    Posted at 04:20h, 31 March Reply

    I am in the process of finishing a first draft for my novel. I was stuck about a year and a half because I didn’t have the knowledge about how to plan a book. I came across The Writing Chimp and she has a 6 part guide into how to plan a novel. I opened my notebook and just started to write first about each of the characters and what events they went through, to organizing those events into quarters of the book into chapters, planning was KEY. Before you write a word plan. Maybe, you’ve done this I don’t know, I’m still struggling to finish my book, to find the time, like you. But it’s coming and I’m constantly researching my next steps. I have folders with blogs about everything about having to do with fictional novel writing and they all help. I’ve had editing and writing courses and each adds to my set of skills. Knowledge is portable, an old boss of mine said. I think you can do this, there will come a day and a time, where you at last must sit down, pickup your pen, or click your keyboard, and write 🙂 Best of luck!

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 04:30h, 31 March Reply

      Thank you so much, Mandi. That’s a lot of help. Shall check out the link. I am also trying to read up as much as I can about how to write, plot, etc. Would like to know how you kept those blogs, in what kind of folders ?

      • mandibelle16
        Posted at 04:43h, 31 March Reply

        I have my email through hotmail or Outlook I think it’s called now and I have it as my main email on my iPhone or IPad. I have different folders for many things on that email. I simply created a folder for ‘Writing Pieces’ – things I write up for other blogs, or blogs of mine I want to expand on, or emails regarding pieces I’ve submitted. And another file I just call ‘Writing’ or you could call ‘Writing Ideas’ etc where I put posts from other bloggers that are helpful about plot development, character development etc. I am going to have find a more complex method to divide these blogs up as they amass but I would just create a folder within my writing folder say one on character, one on plot, one on writing tips and grammar etc. Another folder I created had to do with blogging and marketing. I’ve been experimenting doing a mini marketing campaign for my page on FB for about $5.00 US for one week. It was very successful I thought I picked up about forty followers so far. Hope that helps, I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned. is also an excellent blogger/writer with many helpful guest posts too!

  • Kay Mitchell
    Posted at 04:24h, 31 March Reply

    I, too, completely understand how you feel. It’s like a bittersweet feeling. You WANT to because you feel this passion for it; this excitement that can come from nothing else. But then it scares the crap out of you. What if I am not good enough? Can I fail at something that I am so passionate about? I just don’t want to suck! I get it. I’ll take advice from you on just HOW to deal with it because I am clueless.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 04:30h, 31 March Reply

      Kay, you read my mind. That’s exactly how I feel. Maybe we’ll get through it together. 🙂

    • Kay Mitchell
      Posted at 04:38h, 31 March Reply

      I’ll hold your hand, if you hold mine.

  • NooryaK
    Posted at 04:59h, 31 March Reply

    I am also like this. I doubt myself every second of the day. Our story is somewhat the same. I have a degree in Architecture and the natural course that I should take is do a job in this field. But in the middle of my studies, I realized that I chose the wrong course for myself. I didn’t have a choice but to complete my degree as I was stuck in the middle. By the end of it, I realized that my writing can be more than just writing in my journal. That’s when I started this blog.
    I signed for NaNoWriMo in November as well but didn’t complete a thing. Mainly because of the doubt and just thinking that what I am writing is bad. I have also signed up for Camp in April 🙂
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Makes me feel less alone.
    Good luck for April. I hope you rock it 🙂
    And yes just do it! and think about the rest later.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 05:10h, 31 March Reply

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂 Am so glad there are others who feel the same. You are definitely not alone, if the comments below are anything to go by. All the best for Camp NaNo. I don’t know what camp you are in but we can keep on chatting here and pushing each other further on. Let’s make sure if cross the finish line together. 🙂
      P.S. – I have a fascination for Architecture, don’t know why I didn’t take it up 😀 Most of my male leads in my short stories are architects. (Read Lost series or Cupid’s Ball 😀 )

      • NooryaK
        Posted at 06:17h, 31 March Reply

        Yes we should definitely keep each other motivated 🙂
        haaha that is interesting ! I will read these. Maybe I can also use all that I have learnt in architecture in my stories somehow 🙂

  • sassandsauce
    Posted at 05:12h, 31 March Reply

    Yes, I’m right there . In the same boat beside you, desperately trying to stay afloat. I want to write a novel too. But then I think, what do I have to say that hasn’t been said before? I have no content really. And that’s how I put it off, till I’ve seen more of world, till I have travelled more,till I meet more people, till I read more books, till I read more of the classics, till I can quote poems. Sigh,it never ends.
    And if I dont write I feel trapped and claustrophobic.
    I hope you begin though. And let me know how you get out of the doldrums 🙂 Much love <3

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 05:19h, 31 March Reply

      Yasho, meeting you was one of the best things about Mumbai. Second only to Bachelor’s Green Chili Ice cream and Theobroma’s Red Velvet brownies 😛 (Oh, I so need to write about that too 😀 )
      Girl, you gotta write. Let not those self-doubts win. So what if it has been said before. You’ve not said it, right? It has not been said in your words. So it still needs to be said. No more putting it off. Do it and do it now. You owe that to yourself. Either sign up for the Camp NaNo or take up a writing challenge… whatever fits your schedule, but just take the plunge. Thanks for the support. Shall surely swim across and make it to the other end, even if I need you to throw me the life-float. 😀 Love and hugs back.

      • sassandsauce
        Posted at 05:24h, 31 March Reply

        Yes it was great for me tooo! In fact I’m gonna write about it 🙂 Was supposed to be a surprise! Sigh. So sweet of you and thanks for the support. I’ll definitely try my best. And you can count on me for the life-float. 🙂 XoXO

  • Nitin
    Posted at 07:00h, 31 March Reply

    It must be really great to have found your true calling and working on what you love. Kudos to you. Keep it up and keep writing. 🙂

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 07:05h, 31 March Reply

      Thank you Nitin. Your support and appreciation keeps me going. Much valued. 🙂

      • Nitin
        Posted at 07:06h, 31 March Reply

        You’re always welcome. 🙂

  • Sejal Vashi
    Posted at 09:48h, 31 March Reply

    Nicely written and candidly expressed write up on an emotion that each and every person in the world has no matter how successful or otherwise. I personally hv experienced that self doubt shows how dedicated u r to the cause and so u make an extra effort to not go wrong . It thus eventually leads to self discovery and to accomplishment of great things. Good luck to you. Looking forward to ur writings

  • arv!
    Posted at 10:17h, 31 March Reply

    For me it was to start a blog… from 2008 when I first created a blog -that I never wrote on, to 2015 when I actually started blogging with a new blog. I’m happy to have started this journey.

  • thelonelyauthorblog
    Posted at 11:27h, 31 March Reply

    Nice post. You are describing moments every writer has to deal with -especially the self doubts. As for the writing itself. When I made the decision that writing is what I wanted to do (always keeping the day job of course), I made a promist to do something everyday that will move me closer to my goal. Whether it be a poem formy blog, editing my novels/screenplays, or writing short stories. Take a little time each day to move forward in your writing endeavors. Best of luck.

  • Nícia
    Posted at 13:45h, 31 March Reply

    My whole blog is about this: getting up after failure. However, I don’t believe in this word very much: outcomes are just outcomes. There are no best and worst. Because, you see, you always learn something from your mistakes, so how can that be failing? You either get it right, or you learn and grow. 😉

    I’m glad you’re starting your novel and followed your heart. Don’t let your mind confuse you, don’t hide yourself behind new information. Just write. And if that is being difficult just do something else until you feel confident enough. Just how you did this time.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 15:35h, 31 March Reply

      Thank you Nicia! Your words are very encouraging. Thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙂

  • gloverdeb
    Posted at 14:48h, 31 March Reply

    Apart from self doubt some people just plain put me down by saying I’m not making money from all the writings.
    It discourages a lot. I know it’s just a matter of time before they changed their mind.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 15:34h, 31 March Reply

      Don’t worry about the money. I know it’s easy to say , but I know this for a fact. People often ask me what I write about and for whom? Reactions to my reply ranges from a smirk to disdainful glances.. As long as you’re happy, don’t let the rest matter. If they are so concerned, let them pay you. Until then, they can go take a hike 😛 😀 Rome wasn’t built in a day. 🙂 Keep at it. You and I are together in this. 🙂

      • gloverdeb
        Posted at 16:10h, 01 April Reply

        Yes! Let em pay me. I like that. We are in this and I know that soon we will last. He that laughs last laughs the longest. *Lofff ya!*😁

  • shanayatales
    Posted at 17:34h, 31 March Reply

    I know exactly what you mean. We all go through these phases of self-doubt. I am currently going through it – in my own way. Nonetheless, you are on the right track – don’t give up.

    Write that novel – it might not not work, it might suck – write it anyway. Just write it to prove it to yourself that you can do it. Once you have convinced yourself – no one can stop you. You can always edit later. Or write another one.

    But consider this – What if it does not suck? What if it does work out? What if it is the next best-seller? Take a leap of faith. Take a chance for the sake of these what-ifs.

    Wishing you the very best. 🙂

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 17:57h, 31 March Reply

      Thank you so much! That is really very motivating and encouraging. I start tomorrow with Camp NaNo. Shall remember these words. 🙂

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  • xaranahara
    Posted at 06:49h, 23 April Reply

    Thank you for writing this post. I am the Queen of Self Doubt. In fact, I haven’t been to work since March 31, 2016, and the anxiety and stress is causing me to question my purpose. I know I should be using this time to make my new apartment look better and to write a masterpiece, but honestly, that isn’t how it’s happening. I’ve been worried about how the hell am I going to pay my bills and if I am going to get to work. I know that I should be applying for jobs like mad, but my anxiety puts me in 80 different directions. Which job should I apply for first? How many should I do before taking a break? How much organizing do I need to do today? Am I going to get out of the house to do something fun? Do I need to run errands?

    TLDR: Yes, I know what you mean. I’m glad you’re motivated again. You make me proud. Keep on keeping on. It’s okay to take breaks. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

    #selfdoubt #anxiety #viciouscycle #congratulationsonyourambition #gogirlgo

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