Writerly Wednesdays

Overcoming Doubt: The Writer’s Joy

The novel writer’s journey comes with doubt. What if they don’t like my story? What if I’m not a good writer?

Sometimes the concerns attack like a chihuahua nipping at your ankles. At other times, it feels as if a wolf pack is hunting you down. Even a seasoned novelist who is about to launch their 80th novel feels trepidation.

There are two major issues about these feelings.

  • One: they haven’t read it yet. Doggone it, you haven’t even finished. So how do you know what they’ll think?
  • Two: how do you define they in ‘What if they don’t like my story?’ Who is this unknown reader in your head?

Imagining troubles ahead is often a problem. You’re borrowing the possibilities of tomorrow to disrupt the flow of today. And yet, these emotions of doubt are real. That’s why the Bible gives us a powerful prescription on how to deal with these feelings.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

What is true?

Some people will like your work. Some won’t. Some people will read your work. Some won’t.

I’ll be honest. These feelings of doubt rob you of the joy the journey brings. When you sit in a coffee shop and wander through your imagination and write what you see, you’re living another life outside your own. Introducing feelings of doubt and concern takes away that moment.

More practically, doubt undermines your ability to think clearly. It’s simply not true that people don’t like your story, mostly because you haven’t written it yet. Give them a chance to have their say later, but for today, your job is simply to write.

Spiritually, you’re hijacking God’s time with you. What does that mean? The act of creation is as close as we can be to our Creator. As we’re told in Genesis, He made us reasoning creatures, able to imagine and create. There’s something divine in our work, as if we’re drawing from every life since the dawn of time and forming our own view of the world through our own characters. The spark of our human condition played out in our novel is for us to write to the best of our abilities. Who likes the work and who thinks we’re good writers isn’t up to us.  

Reject doubt and focus on the truth. As you write, double down on drowning doubt. You will be glad you did.

About this post: Beliefs represented by individual authors are not necessarily shared by all members of ICW.


  • Peter Leavell

    Peter Leavell, a graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and a MA in English Literature, was the 2011 winner of the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author, along with multiple other awards. An author, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband, and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com

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