“The truth is, publishing will break your heart, but you can’t let that stop you. You need to be tough. Really tough, or take your scribbles and go home. Becoming a writer isn’t a stroll through the park, with bluebirds singing and cute animals running by your side. It’s the freaking Thunderdome. Bring armor.” —Jamie Lee Moyer, Author and Editor
Publishing is famously called the lowest paid profession for a reason. And writers, especially newbie ones, are at the bottom of the barrel. There are literally millions of us, many quite talented, and with the ease of indie publishing these days and the advent of generative AI, it’s harder than ever to get your work in front of a wide array of readers.
Authors are also creative types, and like most artists, we’re predisposed to believing the worst about ourselves. There’s even a name for it—Imposter Syndrome. I’ll talk about it more later, but basically it means that at any given moment, you might suddenly be seized by painful waves of self-doubt, questioning why you ever thought you were good enough to be an author.
Something else that’s typical of us writer types—one bad review can wipe away all the confidence-boosting effects of ten great ones.
If you’re reading this book (thank you!), it means you’re serious about being a writer, and if you’re anything like me, it’s because you have to write. You probably discovered reading at a young age and thought, “I want to do that. I need to do that.”
I’m only happy when I’m writing. Okay, not always at the exact time that I am putting words down on the page. But if I’m not writing regularly, I feel off. And when I am, things are just better.
But it’s a double-edged sword. We work so hard to become good at this thing we do, and make it so easy for others to tear us down.
So if you really want to make this your career (like you have any choice), you’ll need to find a way to make peace with your doubts.
I’m going to try to convince you of something that’s totally counterintuitive. Doubt is not the enemy. Doubt is your friend. It spurs you on to constantly try to improve your writing skills, to become better at what you do.
To put it another way… once you stop doubting yourself, when you are convinced you know everything you need to know about being a great writer, your growth withers and dies.
In almost every project I write, I hit the patch I call the Muddy Middle, the place in the story where it all just feels derivative, sad, and boring. I’ve learned over the years that this is just part of my process. Once I plow through it, things get better, and I remember that I do actually have some idea what I’m doing.
And then the appearance of my nemesis becomes something more akin to the visit of an old friend.
So be ready for adversity. Prepare yourself for crushing waves of self-doubt. Expect reviews that will make you cry.
You’ll find a way through it. Talk to some close writer friends. Remind yourself that writing is as much a part of you as your heart and soul, and that nothing will sway you from your chosen path.
And get the best revenge. Write some more.