Doubtlessly, there is doubt.

20 Apr

by Biljana Likic


I have to brag a little bit; I’m surrounded by some amazing writers. Not just here at LTWF, but at school, on Twitter, blogs, people who I hardly even know aside from the random and tentative internet hello. And it can be intimidating. Friends left and right of me are getting agents and book deals, and while I am extremely happy for them, screaming like an excited fool over long-distance Skype conversations, there are times where impatience sets in; impatience with myself, with how much time school is taking up, and with how I know I lack a lot of the discipline needed to balance my studies with revising my manuscript. But it’s important to remember that I’m still young, and that everybody has their stages of development, and I’ll get to where I get to in my own time.

It’s also important to remember that the fear of being inadequate is hard to get rid of. We all have our moments of doubt, and right now I’m seeing more in my friends who have agents and books deals than in those who don’t. What if my book never gets sold? What if I’m not satisfied with the final revisions and the book I publish embarrasses me? What if I’m unable to fix it? What if, after this book, I can never write again?

To this I say, yes, it’s possible. You might never sell your book. The story you love might get so twisted and warped that it’s published into a story you hate. You might lose all inspiration after your first book because you’ve simply exhausted all your ideas. Each one of these is possible. It’s why they exist as doubts. If everything were guaranteed there’d be no stress or drama in the world. There’d be no stories to tell.

Things like these are hard to swallow. To make things worse, we’re all so caught up in how others perceive us that half the time we don’t even voice our problems. That would be whining, and nobody likes a whiner. So we bottle things up within ourselves and turn to Internet for guidance.

The Internet is a place of self-diagnosis, not only for your flu symptoms, but for the worries you have about your novel. Blog upon blog is filled with the do’s and don’ts writing, LTWF included, and the information is so overwhelming that suddenly you don’t just have the flu anymore; you have pneumonia, or an ulcer, or you’re in the early stages of sepsis. You start going through the symptoms until they blur into a mass that seems unmanageable. You don’t think have a stomach ache, but now you see it’s possible, you feel one coming on. You get to the final few things listed, about fast heart-rate and high fever, and suddenly your heart is pounding in your throat and you’re burning up. You have to go to the hospital. You have to get cured. Because the next symptom is a little harder to get rid of: death.

It isn’t until you get there that you realize you’re making yourself sick.

There are so many rules about writing. Rules about tension, plot-building, characterization, word count… There are so many things that you can read and start panicking that you’re doing exactly what they’re telling you not to. Sometimes, it is a real problem, but a lot of the times it’s simply paranoia caused by that unshakeable feeling of inadequacy.

So here is my piece of advice, coming at you from an un-agented, book-deal-less, anxious girl who knows the doubts will follow her long after she has her break, if she even gets one:

Have faith in your writing. You know your plot, you know your story, you know what you’re doing. If you’re in a place where you’re out of questions, and you truly believe there’s nothing more you can do till you get word back from your critique partner, or your agent, or your editor, then stop looking for answers. Illnesses only get worse after a trip to Dr. Google. Let the hiccoughs pass, and have patience. Worst thing that happens, you get your feedback and you’re re-inspired.

Most importantly, voice your doubts. It’s amazing how much lighter you feel when you share that weight with somebody. Talk to people. And if they accuse you of whining, tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine.


Biljana Likic is an aspiring author, currently revising her first novel, TIME IS A FUNNY THING. She is in her first year of university, where she can’t wait till she’s out so she’ll finally have all the time in the world to write. You can visit her blog here and follow her on Twitter here.


21 Responses to “Doubtlessly, there is doubt.”

  1. Kat Zhang April 20, 2011 at 2:38 AM #

    Wonderful post, Billy, and oh so true 🙂

    • Biljana April 20, 2011 at 12:31 PM #

      Thanks, Kat.

  2. kaemccrae April 20, 2011 at 2:47 AM #

    Lovely, miss. ❤

    • Biljana April 20, 2011 at 12:32 PM #


  3. Carradee April 20, 2011 at 8:04 AM #

    Yeah. I also had more time to write and revise when I was a full-time student. Not less.

    Just something you might want to keep in mind.

    • Biljana April 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM #

      I will, thanks…Hopefully next year I’ll be able to better gauge how much time I need for everything, after having gone through a year of it.

  4. Vee April 20, 2011 at 8:56 AM #

    Oh my god, Billy I needed this post right now. I’m in the pits of doubt and reading this was just such a relief and a huge weight off my shoulders ❤

    Also, I feel you on the time thing. It is so, so hard to strike that balance 🙂

    • Biljana April 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM #

      I’m glad, Vee :).

  5. Stephanie Relf April 20, 2011 at 9:17 AM #

    Yay! I’ve been feeling a little down recently, I’ve been choosing which Uni I want to go to and which course to choose, and I’m constantly doubting every decision I make! Particularly the decision to study something completely different from English or creative writing.

    I feel much more inspired now thank you!

    • Biljana April 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM #

      Good luck, I hope you’re happy with whatever you choose :).

  6. Chele April 20, 2011 at 11:40 AM #

    This applies to more than just writing, I think. And it definitely came at the right time for me, too.

    Also, your last line is epic, pahaha ;DDD

    • Biljana April 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM #

      It does, doesn’t it? Anything that’s stressing you out, really…I’m glad you enjoyed it. And lol yes the last line was for a bit of spice ;).

  7. Heather April 20, 2011 at 12:11 PM #

    Great post! I really needed to read something like this 🙂

    • Biljana April 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM #

      I’m glad :). Good luck with everything!

  8. Mac_V April 20, 2011 at 4:35 PM #

    You. Rock. This is totally the pick-me-up speech I needed. With my classes this semester life has been crazy hectic and it is SO intimidating to see people getting agents and book deals while I’m writing a fifteen-page essay that’s completely made me despise Peter Pan, whom I liked relatively well before. I start doubting that I’ve put the time away for myself to write. But you are totally right. We all have our own time to come into things and it just isn’t the same for everyone. I will have plenty of time to write later. Everything will be okay.

    THANK YOU for brightening my day. Seriously. This was JUST what I needed.

    Bring it Peter Pan. Bring it. ‘Cause after you, I’m going back to writing my OWN story.

    Mer ❤

    • Biljana April 20, 2011 at 6:01 PM #

      Mer, if there’s anything I hate, it’s over analysis killing a piece of work that I like. That SUCKS. Kick that shit in ass, if it’s the last thing you do!

      Good luck! Though you don’t need it 😉

  9. Sarah J. Maas April 20, 2011 at 5:41 PM #

    Fucking loved this post. ❤

    • Biljana April 20, 2011 at 6:01 PM #

  10. Julie Eshbaugh April 21, 2011 at 6:04 AM #

    WOW. Biljana, this is what just about every writer needs to read. Thanks for this awesome post. 🙂

  11. Hayley Stone April 21, 2011 at 6:03 PM #

    I cannot tell you how much I needed this blog post. I’ve been in such a writing funk lately, due largely to everything you said, mainly that oh-so pesky fear of inadequacy and stresses about getting published righthisveryminute. Suffice to say, what you wrote helps SO much. Thank you!

  12. maybellestyle April 26, 2011 at 1:48 AM #

    Ahh I needed this! Great post. I go through writing meltdowns every now and then, creative and academic – half the time I can’t reread something without cringing. o: But as with acting and many other things, confidence is key. To get something out there despite all the qualms – now that’s courage. 😀

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