Chelsea Fine shirt

I purposely wore this shirt to the panel discussion because it sums up my journey as a writer, as a mother, as an artist, and as a woman.

Every summer, I attend UtopYA Con and this year they had a panel called “Dealing With Doubts As A Writer.” Which. Was. INCREDIBLE.

And in my case, much needed.

I’m gonna be real with you here: I’ve had some serious writer’s block going on for a good while now and that’s never happened to me before.

This season of chronic writer’s block kind of crept up on me and, until just recently, was really starting to freak me out. Like, holy-cow-I-might-need-to-rethink-my-career-as-a-storyteller-and-go-back-to-being-a-bank-teller.

But WHY? Why haven’t I been able to tell any of the stories racing around inside my head?

The simple answer? DOUBT.

I think we can ALL (writers and otherwise) relate to doubting ourselves in what we do. It’s a crippling obstacle, and it can convince us to give up. But overcoming the dreaded monster of doubt and marching forward despite any insecurities is easier said than done.

Doubt sucks. No matter who you are or what you do, doubt can creep up on you and whisper sweet evils in your ear about giving up. It can talk you into surrender or drown you in a sense of failure. It’s a plague—especially for us artistic types.

Because DOUBT IS THE DEATH OF CREATION. doubtmonster

It’s pretty much impossible to follow-through with your imagination when you’re second-guessing yourself every two minutes (trust me, I know).

I’ve spent the last 9 months doubting myself as a writer. And that’s not a fun place to be. Like, at all. I’ve been wracked with fear and insecurity. Fear that I no longer have the ability to write awesome stories, and insecurity about myself as an artist, as a wife, and as a mother.

It’s hard to find that sweet balance between chasing my dreams and succeeding at the dreams I’ve already caught (dreams like, you know, like being married to an awesome guy and having two super rad kiddos). I’m not good at balancing work and home, and I might never be, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to doubt my ability as an artist—which is exactly what I’ve been doing.

I’ve been so afraid of FAILING that I’ve gotten into this horrible holding pattern of not trying.

Has that ever happened to you? You get so terrified of not living up to your own expectations that you just sort of…give up? (Or in my case, stare at a computer screen for hours on end without typing a single word, and instead of DOING something about it, you diagnose yourself with a severe case of writer’s block and call it a day—or a month?)

blockDon’t get me wrong, writer’s block is a real thing. I just don’t want it to be a crutch anymore. Because that’s precisely what I’ve been using it as: A crutch—a reason not to work past my fears and insecurities in order to create something awesome.

So I’m trying. I’m pushing onward and writing down anything and everything that comes to mind. Most of it is crap, but some of it is decent, and everyday is better than the day before.

I’m getting my writing mojo back and I have YOU—my incredible readers, my priceless support network, my loudest cheerleaders—to thank. You believing in me gives me every reason to believe in myself. And that’s just what the doctor ordered. 😉

Faith—in ourselves, in our work—is the only way we can truly fight off the relentless monster of doubt.

And I’m fighting. I really am.

I BELIEVE I CAN AND SO I WILL. This is my battle cry.
Chasing a dream is scary but it’s SO worth it.
So I’m going to fight until I win. How about you?
#DreamCatcher   #Believe   #BeFearless   #DoEpic

7743 Comments on “Chelsea vs. The Doubt Monster”

  1. Great post! I so relate to this, which is why I’m going to share a Tweet I saw a while ago about being a published author. Can’t remember it exactly, but it said something like “This business isn’t hard. After your second or third nervous breakdown, you barely notice them anymore.”

    That might be an exaggeration for humorous effect, but some days, it feels truer than others ;). Like you, doubt has stolen countless writing days from me. When I was first starting out, I thought if I could JUST get an agent, then I wouldn’t feel like such a fraud as a writer. When that happened, then I thought if I could JUST get published, I’d feel secure in my craft. When that happened, I thought if my debut novel JUST sold well, I’d finally be rid of the Doubt Monster. Ten years and over a dozen novels later, I am still riddled with doubt. In fact, it’s gotten worse because of the pressure involved with this being my job instead of merely my dream. It’s why I can’t read 99% of reviews because I never remember the good ones; I only remember the ones that tell me I’m a hack, and the darkest part of me agrees. More than once, I’ve cried at my keyboard when I’ve felt overwhelmed with the “why bother?” mentality that sometimes comes with extreme doubt.

    Not saying this for a pity party, but doubt is something that’s not talked about a lot in public, yet seems to be fairly common. I still feel so incredibly blessed to be doing this, but sometimes, being grateful isn’t enough. On those days, I can only get past the writer’s block that doubt inevitably brings by giving myself permission to fail. Example: I will tell myself “fine, this scene WILL suck, but you’re going to write it anyway because you can’t fix it until after it’s on the page.” Now, some readers might see this and think “So THAT’S why I hated ____ book of yours!” but let me assure everyone: I’ve had to do this with every single book I’ve written since I got a publishing contract, so if you liked more than my first novel, you’ve liked something I’ve written while repeating this mantra. Some days, that doesn’t even work, and then I have to give myself permission to stop and do something else – WITHOUT feeling guilty over it. Believe me, the doubt/writer’s block/guilt carousel is an even rougher ride than just the doubt/writer’s block one.

    To sum up my far-too-long comment, you’re not alone, and when doubt feels like a hill too steep to climb, just keeping putting one foot in front of the other. Even if you only go an inch on a bad day, you’re still moving forward. Big hugs to you and to everyone else dealing with the Doubt Monster!

  2. Chelsea,
    I do think this is something that everyone can relate to, I certainly can! Thanks for being brave enough to share this post. And, I hope you know, I’m always here for you if you need anything!!!

  3. Chelsea,

    Oh! How I feel your writing pain! On Sept 10th, five days before you posted this I was tasked with a challenge (Cut Words out of MS) that I feared would OWN ME! Yikes! But I wanted to succeed, and with some encouraging words from the agent, almost EXACTLY like your tank top declares, I pushed forward.

    30 days later, and I’ve done it! She believed I could, so I believed I could, and I did!

    Props to you! Keep writing, keep pushing, and it’s Halloween season, so you push that Doubt Monster out the door and tell him to go Trick someone else.

    Thinking of you!


  4. Thank you for sharing your story, Chelsea. I’ve been struggling with doubt and fear for so long with my writing (and life in general) it isn’t funny. I take a lot of comfort in knowing that I’m not alone, and I hope your doubts are eased so you can go back to being awesome! Take care.