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On Writing and Self-doubt

By 26/06/2021August 31st, 2021Featured
What about you? How has June been for you? What plans, writing or otherwise, have you made for July?

We writers are nervous creatures, perpetually doubting our worth, finding ourselves falling way short of our own standards. I’m no exception. I no longer hate my work as I used to, because don’t think I hate myself quite as much now. Over months and years, I’ve come to understand that I have no control over where my writing goes. I must simply do the work, and try and get better at it. It is a process, a long one, and losing patience does not help.

Recently, I came across this article in Catapult where Eva Recinos explores how taking time away from writing is an important part of the process, and self-doubt a natural occurrence. She quotes:

“My favorite tool for dealing with self-doubt is the first thought, second thought, first action method, which I learned about in 12-Step spaces,” said Pickens. “It goes like this: You’re not responsible for your first thought. Instead, you’re responsible for your second thought and your first action . . . When self-doubt comes up, it’s helpful to remember that that is just your first thought and you can discard it.”

Since January, I’ve known that I was in need of a new agent. My earlier agent, though a wonderful person, was simply not the right fit in terms of the market where I wanted to appear.

A few months in the querying trenches, and boatloads of self-doubt later, I have another agent: the wonderful Lucienne Diver from the Knight agency.

This has been a relief, but I do not know what the Universe holds in store for my writing journey. All I can do is buckle up, get done with the revisions on the new manuscript I queried even as I plan the next ones. Failure is a part of the process. I’ve embraced it now: it depresses me for a day or two and then I’m back up and running.

Self-doubt is an asset at the moment–the more I doubt my work, the better my edits because the flaws in my MS  are clearer. Hoping to take July off this space and social media in order to enter a revision cave, and get the MS submission ready.

What about you? How has June been for you? What plans, writing or otherwise, have you made for July?

PS: I sent out the Daily (w)rite Writing gazette late this month, and am skipping July altogether–so if you’re subscribed to it, I’ll show up again in your inbox in Septembert! I’ll still post and respond here, but my social media will see a lot of silence.

Are you part of nay online or offline book groups? Founded any? What is the experience like? Do you think online book groups are similar to those offline?My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is optioned to be a TV series by Endemol Shine.

It is available in India here.

Worldwide, here.

Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • mitchteemley says:

    Re-re-re-writing my current novel.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I get that. I re-wrote my debut 15 times.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes. Stick-to-itiveness is the one quality of a successful author. All the best with your novel!

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I’m sure the break from social media will help – you’ll have more time. I’m pleased you’ve found a new agent – all the best as the two of you work forward. We have to step on and keep going, after all the sun will rise tomorrow regardless of what we’ve done today … good luck with all things – Hilary

  • vishnupria says:

    Taking the next steps are important and self doubts are helpful to an extent and keeps creativity in check. At least that’s how I see..

  • Pam says:

    So true!!

  • soniadogra says:

    Best wishes Damyanti. Looking forward to reading your work once again.
    I spent June doing Poetry Workshops and plan to continue with the same in July. Writing is regular but all experimental as part of the workshops. Hoping to come up with new and evolved writing in a few months.
    Hope your new book goes exactly where you want it to!

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    I started waking up at 5 am to do some writing for the last fifteen days or so. I didn’t want to start the day doing chores that break my back and test my patience, so I decided to begin the day doing something I am not good at, but something I enjoy doing, anyway! And, each time I sit down to write, Mr.Self Doubt lurks in the shadows and whispers into my ears that I am pathetic at what I do. 😀 But, I do it anyway!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      ” something I enjoy doing” : This is lovely to hear, Shilpa! All the best with it 🙂

  • vvaidehi says:

    I have been writing for the sake of writing and the joy creativity brings in. I was writing mostly travel memoirs on my blog “Weary feet…happy soul”. I started writing fiction(short stories) only a year back after I attended a writing retreat at Rishikesh in March 2020, just before the pandemic hit India. I wrote two or three stories in quick succession and put them up on my blog. I sent one story to a contest and it was short-listed. Buoyed by such early success, I started submitting stories to literary journals around the world and withheld posting these on my blog as submissions have to be unpublished. Well, I have written five stories and two travel memoirs and have submitted these to about ten or twelve journals. Fifty percent of these submissions have been rejected and the remaining are still under consideration. So, self-doubt does rear its head at times. But I continue to write and I am on my next short story.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      “So, self-doubt does rear its head at times. But I continue to write and I am on my next short story.”

      That’s the attitude, Vaidehi. Your retreat in Rishikesh sounds amazing–link me to it :).

  • ccyager says:

    Oh, I wrote a comment below so you’ll get 2 from me, Damyanti I think if we don’t experience self-doubt as creative artists, that might be the bad thing. Congrats on the new agent and good for you that you made the change when needed. I’m in the middle of a month of change: new laptop, new printer, new job, new writing project (on top of the novel series I’m working on), new haircut. Now if I could just arrange to get a new body….:-D

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Cinda, I think the internet gremlins got to your first comment–so this is your first I’m receiving. Sorry about the commenting troubles!

      Thanks for your kind wishes, and all the very best for all your new changes at the same time. They all sound very positive. Hugs and hope your health is better right now.

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!.. wish you all the best in your adventures!… going to do the same thing in July that I did in June, live life and follow my heart… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    (Irish Saying)

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      You’re always an inspiration, Larry! I’ll be scarce in July, but will be back in August.

  • JT Twissel says:

    We’re so accustomed to money being the barometer of success that we can’t enjoy the creative process for what it is. At least, that’s my problem.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I understand, Jan. I’ve not had that problem yet because my husband has supported me throughout and let me write for the sake of writing. This might change in the future, and I hope I can keep the pure creative passion and vigor alive.

  • The review system. Basically, it was started by the written word. Talk about opening up ourselves to criticism? That was lurks in our psyche but a good review chases it away. We have to take the good with the bad and just carry on.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes. My view is that reviews are for readers, not authors. If an author reads them, and learns from them, that’s a bonus. Authors learn much more from a crit group, beta readers, and editors.

  • I’m glad you found an agent who worked better for your needs. Kudos on the courage to make a change!

  • Jeuron says:

    I enjoyed this post. Us writers always suffer bouts of self doubt, but we must keep trucking along. June has been a fairly good month for my writing. I’ve written two blogs this week which I consider huge progress.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      As long as we keep writing, it is a success in itself. Thanks for stopping by!

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