“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ~ Sylvia Plath
When I first started writing novels, about twenty years ago, I wrote just for me. I had a dream to become a published writer, to maybe one day be a full-time writer, but I knew that wouldn’t happen anytime soon. I was just not good enough of a writer yet. Self-doubt held me back from asking feedback on my novels, which I could’ve really learned from.
Fast forward twenty years. I pretty much gave up on my dream. Despite a degree in English (which really doesn’t help you become a better writer), I ended up working in the Finance sector and I became the main breadwinner of the family. Becoming a full-time writer is out of my grasp unless a ship with money miraculously shows up. Instead, for the last couple of years, I’ve worked hard at getting better with my writing. I’ve posted stories on my blog, I’ve been commissioned to write short stories for pay and I’ve published three books with two more in the works.
I’m a much better writer now than I was twenty years ago, or even two years ago. I’ve written at least 8 novels (probably more, but I’m only counting the ones I edited as well) and countless of short stories. Each novel and story, whether it got published or not, made me a better writer. I look back on my earlier work and just have to laugh sometimes, some of it is SO bad (there are also some gems, so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself).
Seeing how far I’ve come as a writer makes me feel really good. But I hardly ever look at it that way. Not so long ago, I wrote the following tweet.
Me to oldest son: Life’s not a competition, everyone follows their own path. Just focus on what success means for you without comparing yourself to others.
Also me: WHYYYYY have I not sold more books? Everyone is so much more successful than I! 😭😭😭
— 💜Isabelle Lauren💜 (@RomanticIsa) July 9, 2020
I tend to compare myself to others a lot. It seems to only get worse as I publish more books. With The Insatiable Jane Travers, I was just happy to get a few readers and see my own book in paperback. That was a dream come true in itself. But after the initial flurry of sales, things slowed down and I felt very deflated. Self-doubt crept in and I couldn’t write for a while. Then I wrote Surrender in the Library as a serial on my blog, just for myself to get me through the first bit of the lockdown. It did well on my blog, so I eventually edited it and published it on Amazon as well. I thought that maybe having more than one book published would get me more sales and exposure.
It did work, a bit. I sell some books, but there are days I have no sales at all. Meanwhile, I see other erotica writers on Twitter boasting of (in my mind) massive sales and I get very deflated. I have over 2000 followers on Twitter, but my sales figures don’t reflect that. I was starting to wonder what I was doing wrong? Why did no one want to buy my books?
I was doing exactly what I told my son not to do. I was comparing myself to other writers who seemed to sell more than me and then self-doubt messes me up. At this rate, I’m never going to be a bestseller writer, nor will I be able to even cut down my work to part-time, let alone become a full-time writer. But between the short stories I’m getting paid for and the meagre royalties on my books, I am breaking even (just). Considering I pay for editors for my books (the biggest expense), I should count that as a win. Then why does it feel I’m still so far behind?
I should listen to my own advice. When I don’t care about what others are thinking and I focus on how far I’ve come, writing comes easy and I feel great. But soon enough self-doubt creeps in and I wonder if it isn’t better if I stop writing altogether. After all, who am I kidding? I’ll never be a financially successful writer. I’ll always have to fit my writing around my day job, so is it really worth it? Considering that writing, editing and marketing is pretty much a second job, which so far, is largely unpaid, why am I still doing it?
I’m doing it because I love writing. I’m doing it for the people who tell me they love my work. My words touch people. Maybe not a lot of people, and maybe those people aren’t enough to help turn my passion into an actual, paying job, but that’s fine. For now. I’ve come really far since I started writing. I love the books I’ve published and am excited to publish two more this year. Fame doesn’t come overnight. With each book I write, I will get better at writing, editing, publishing and marketing.
I have to stop comparing myself to others. I’m me. I’m unique. My stories are different from other stories, my books a different length, my marketing techniques different. I decided to self-publish so I could go my own path and not have to change my stories to what others thought was “marketable” or “commercial”. I know I’m a good writer. My stories and books are making people wet and hard, and, judging from the 5-star reviews I’m getting, they’re not badly written. So I need to let go, I need to fight my self-doubt, keep writing stories and maybe, one day, I can make enough on my writing to work 4 days instead of 5. Small goals, small steps to my dream. Right?
To see what others have written about self-doubt, please click the link below.
Unleash My Desires is out now!
Three years ago, I spent the hottest weekend of my life with an English businessman who unleashed my darkest desires. And then he disappeared from my life, leaving me broken.
I never thought I’d see Nathan again, but when I’m sent to Vegas to close a lucrative deal with a new client, he appears back in my life, hotter than ever. All I want to do is focus on my work, but Nathan makes me a different offer: to spend the night reliving our weekend together.
Can I spend the night with him knowing he will likely leave me again? Is a night of total sexual abandon worth the price of a broken heart?