How to Overcome Self-Doubt and Create with Confidence: A Journey of Self-Exploration and Courage.
I have been writing for a very long time, but it wasn't until October of 2019 that I published my first book. Second Chance wasn't supposed to be a runaway hit. I was just finishing my second Masters, an MBA through Western Governors University, and had a very stressful job securing the Global Information Grid for the Department of Defense. My plan at the time was to write quietly, publishing my novels as I went, slowly building a readership.
They say that nothing sells your first book like the next one. They say that once a book series hits three books, it really starts to take off. This was the conventional wisdom I was holding onto at the time. Imagine my surprize when I hit 5 figures in just a few, short months.
I wasn't ready. It wasn't fair. Silly, right? What an amazing problem to have. Except, it wasn't.
Second Chance has grossed over $35K since it was released, but I wasn't able to hold onto the momentum. I couldn't leave my career. Then things got worse when the pandemic hit. I was an Emergency Essential worker. Things got very, very tough. I was fortunate enough to not get Covid, but many of my coworkers weren't. We were stretched thin, and some nights I found myself doing 2, 3, even 4 jobs at once as I covered for the people who were out on 2 week quarantines or needed a day off.
It took me 2 years to publish my next book, The Broken Blade. By that time, my audience had cooled off. Many had forgotten my series, A Battle Mage Reborn, and other authors filled that gap with their own books. I felt like I missed my chance. I had a shot, and I'd wasted it.
Life continued to get harder, as it often does.
Self-doubt began to overshadow my creativity. I doubted the strength of my voice. I wondered if anyone even cared about the things I wanted to create anymore. I carried a lot of hurt and pain, and those dark feelings made it harder and harder to reach out and connect with people. What should have been the greatest achievement of my life felt more and more like a burden I'd somehow forced myself to carry.
I didn't feel like I could post here on my blog; who would want to hear about how badly I'd been struggling? It was hard enough to carry that weight on my own. Why share that burden?
I took down the videos on my YouTube channel, I stopped blogging (except for very rarely), and I stopped writing for a time. I essentially gave up on my dream while still holding out hope that one day someone would give me permission to write.
That wasn't fair. It wasn't fair to me, and it certainly wasn't fair to my readers and fans.
I had started down a road to a life that I didn't want, when I'd already made such great progress toward the one I'd been dreaming of for so very long. I let my fear and my doubt win. I lost something very important to me, and with that loss I also lost my writing.
Then, one day in April, I decided to do something about it. I owed my son, Gryphon, my half of The Weakest Frost Mage, and I was failing him. It was then that I came to the realization that if I couldn't do it for me, I could certainly do it for him. I had allowed someone else's opinion of me as a father to destroy my self-worth, and it had cost me so much with my other children. Enough was enough. It was time to do something about it.
The thing about burnout is that you usually can't just flip a switch and go from worse than nothing to fully productive. The road is usually a hard one, one filled with starts and stops, trials and tribulations, and a whole lot of doubt. With this in mind, I took a good look at the process of writing and determined that if I could just find the part in the process where my failure was catching, I could start to undo the damage that had been done.
For me, that failure point was with starting.
It turned out that the answer was much simpler than I had anticipated. I didn't just have to give myself an excuse to start. I needed to give myself permission. No one else was going to do it, so it had to come from me. With that in mind, I decided to start small. No matter what, I needed to write each and every day. How much? Only ten words.
Let me repeat that.
Only 10 words.
That was the key to overcoming the brunt of my self-doubt. I could give myself permission to write just 10 words a day.
The funny thing about writing is that it's hard to just write ten words. Sure, there were days when that was all I had in me. And that was okay. I didn't allow myself to feel bad about it. But there were many days when I wrote much, much more than ten. The more of those days I racked up, the easier writing became. I was able to show up and do the work, and it was easier to believe in myself again.
I still have hard days, but I no longer wait for anyone else to give me permission to write. I finished my half of The Weakest Frost Mage, and the book is an amazing addition to the EndWorld Everlasting franchise. It's a book that Gryphon and I are very proud of, and that never would have happened if I didn't let go of this idea that I needed to make myself small.
So, whereever you are with your art or your passions, please never give up. Don't allow yourself to feel like you need to be small. Stand up. Be bold. Be courageous. You're worth it, and the world needs you. Whether you write, or paint, or coach little league, serve as a mentor or advocate, or parent, you are worth believing in. Don't give up on yourself. If you've made mistakes, you can do better.
Just keep going, and never choose to be smaller than you are. Never forget your dreams. You can do this. I know you can.
I am making progress on the third book in my A Battle Mage Reborn series. Some days I only write ten words, but I usually get more than that. Sometimes much more. I will not give up on my dream. I still have stories in me. I still have passion. I have something to share with the world, and I no longer choose to be small.