Confidence

Writing can be a lonely and depressing business. You do it largely in isolation, and you have to deal with a lot of rejection. After the same manuscript has received upward of 30 rejections, even the most upbeat writer is going to start doubting whether the book is actually any good.

But then you get an acceptance, and that validation is enough to keep you going. Someone thinks you’re good enough to be published. It doesn’t matter how many people think you’re not; that one acceptance is enough to make you believe in yourself again.

It seems, though that this self-doubt doesn’t necessarily go away with publication. It appears to affect all writers, no matter how successful they are. A few years ago, crime writer Mark Billingham gave a talk to the T Party. I still worry that I came across as Embarrassingly Fawning Fan Girl that day – I love Mark Billingham’s writing (and he’s a nice chap, too). However, during the course of the afternoon this question of confidence came up, and he told us that he, too, suffers periods of self-doubt, when he thinks what he’s writing is rubbish. And this is from a man whose publisher has enough faith in him to invest in big posters on London Underground for his books.

I suppose the lesson is when these times come, don’t give up. Accept that being gripped with self-doubt is part of being a writer. These feelings will pass. Have faith in yourself and your writing. Your time for publication will come.

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