George R R Martin

Of Writerly Doubts

Self-doubt is the lead weighing down the writer’s running shoes.

And the thing is, every writer has moments of self-doubt, even the great ones, the ones that have made it into the mainstream, the ones that sell millions and have tv shows made after their books.


Here is a quote from George R. R. Martin, from early in his career:

Neither story sold its first time out. Or its second. Or its third. My other ‘summer stories’ were getting bounced around as well, but it was the rejections for ‘Mistfall’ and ‘Loneliness’ that hurt the most. These were strong stories, I was convinced, the best work I was capable of. If the editors did not want them, maybe I did not understand what makes a good story after all… or maybe my best work was just not good enough. It was a dark day each time one of these two came straggling home, and a dark night of doubt the followed.

As I write this I’m waiting to hear from a magazine regarding one of my stories, after having it rejected by two big markets. And I think exactly the same thing Martin thought, way back when he was starting out. Perhaps I needn’t worry.

It helps me to know that other writers have self-doubt. I remember reading Neil Gaiman say that when he was starting out he expected someone to come knocking on his door to tell him to quit writing and get a proper job (I’m glad he didn’t).

So… self doubt. Do you have it and how do you deal with it?


13 thoughts on “Of Writerly Doubts”

  1. Yes, I have self-doubt. I am also stubborn and persistent. I haven’t given up yet and I see no reason to start giving up now.

    But it’s hard to keep going sometimes. “Don’t worry, just keep writing,” is good advice. I keep that in mind as much as I can. I also read and think about the quality of what I’m reading. No less than 40% of the time, I am certain I can write as well, if not better than published authors. And that percentage is a low estimate.

    When I’m really discouraged, I take a break and try to do something for fun. Then I go after it again. Someday, I know my efforts will be worth it.


  2. Mér finnst erfiðast að trúa á sjálfa mig í endurskriftarferlinu … það er þá sem ég fyllist vonleysi og get ekki ímyndað mér að einhver myndi í alvöru vilja gefa þetta rusl út – hvað þá lesa það … Ehm, kannski helst þess vegna að ég hafi aldrei látið reyna á það að senda handrit til útgefanda? (Það og kannski það að eiga unga tvíbura sem eru ekki á leikskóla né dagvistun og því tíminn til þess að skrifa mjög takmarkaður! Oh hvernig kona eyddi tímanum í að skrifa ekki áður en hún varð mamma … *dæs*)

    Annars er ég uppfull af bjartsýni og jákvæðni á glósustiginu sem og þegar ég skrifa fyrsta handritið! Ef þú átt góð ráð til að komast yfir endurskriftar-blúsinn þá eru þau vel þegin! ;-)


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