When Do You Doubt?

Before I get into today’s post, I’ve got an Announcement of Awesomeness:

I am fortunate enough to be a part of an amazing online writers group. We call ourselves the Roaring Writers and, today, we are launching our own writing website – to which I will be a regular contributor.

You can find it here: The Million Words.

If you’re anywhere near serious about writing, at one point or another, you’ve heard that it takes a writer a million words before they “hit their stride”*. That’s what we’re about at The Million Words: Through advice and our own experiences, we are here to help writers to get through their own million words. We are all still journeying ourselves, so we hope to make the journey easier by doing it with you, because we never stop learning, and we never stop striving to improve our craft.

Come walk with us a spell, won’t you?


Now on to the post…

If you’re a working writer,** at some point you’ve experienced doubt. Self-doubt is an inescapable part of doing anything creative and putting it out there for other folk to see.

It’s a fact–like gravity.

And, like gravity, it can weigh you down, make it hard for you to keep going, keep you from releasing your work into the world.

And it’s tricky.  You can be running along, as easy as you please, when self-doubt whispers in your ear that, maybe, things aren’t going as well as you think they are…






(An actual photograph of self-doubt being its rotten self)

I think we all know what happens after that***.

For myself, I’m discovering that self-doubt strikes…well…right about now and I mean that both figuratively, and literally.

When I get close to the point of releasing something out into the world, is when it hits. Before then, I’m just writing for myself. It isn’t until those few moments before I hit “Send” on that email or “Publish” on this blog when shit gets real.

That’s when I doubt: I’m reaching the point where I’m going to have to hit “Publish” soon. No matter how many times I’ve done this, there is always a nagging, suggestive feeling that, maybe I’d be better off not posting anything. After all, who the hell would be interested in reading anything I write? What if someone doesn’t like it? What if I offend someone? On and on…

It creeps up on me just before I send a story out (which I will be doing tomorrow). It slithers up and whispers that the story isn’t ready. It’s not good enough. It won’t be accepted. I’m wasting my time. I’m not good enough. The success I’ve had was either a fluke or a hand-out. On and on…

At some point, if you’re writing–or doing anything creative, really– with the intention of submitting, you will feel this.

And its ok. Its normal.

What do you do when self-doubt strikes? You keep going. You don’t look down****. You keep your eyes focused on the end and you talk with your tribe–people that have been there before you, people that struggle, just as you do–to get the help you need to keep going.

Don’t stop. Don’t look down. Keep writing and get your work out there.

What I’m working on:

The Price of Power: The second round of edits have been turned in and I’m waiting to hear back if there will be a third round or if the story is good to go. We’re getting close to the unofficial release date, so stay tuned…

Brimstone: The window is closing. The outside date that I’ll hear whether or not the story has been accepted is Oct 31st (22 days away). If you’ve a mind, I’d take it as a kindness if you’d cross what you’ve got for me.

Partners: Is probably ready to go. I want to give it a final read through (see the entire post above…) before I send it in. I’m on track for my goal of having it ready on the 10th–5 full days before the submission window closes on the 15th.

Chasing the Kestrel: I’ve still got several open queries – including the agent who asked for more pages.

What’s Next:

I’m still trying to decide whether I want to submit a story for the “Submerged” and “Death of All Things” anthologies that Zombies Need Brains successfully Kickstarted. Deadline for that is Dec 31st. I can write, edit, and submit a story a month, for two months.  Right?

2017: I’m formulating plans and schedules (more on that later) but I want to keep the momentum that I’ve generated this year going.


Total Word Count:

Recently, the idea to keep track of that first million words, and post it somewhere, came up and I thought it was a good idea, if only to provide me with a kick in the ass.

Up front, I will confess that this is going to be a ballpark number for the following reasons:

  • I will be rounding *Down* to the nearest hundred words.
  • I will not be counting any blogging that I’m doing.
  • I am stealing Mur Lafferty’s estimation that an hour of editing is the equivalent of 400 words.

Thanks to the magic of Calculators and Coffee, here is the word count for the week:

1.5 hours of editing x 5 days this week = 7.5 hours

7.5 hours of editing at 400 words per hour = 3000 words

This brings my grand total to…

277,000 words!!

That leaves 723,000 words to go.

That’s doable.


Time: 1:20 pm-ish

Music: Blind Guardian – Distant Memories





*Actually, that phrase is usually “Before you start writing well”. I don’t completely agree with that and would rephrase it to read “Before you start consistently writing well” and even that is a bit of a generalization.

**By this I mean a writer who is, not only, writing, but submitting their work.

*** “Splat”

**** The first rule of cartoon physics states that Gravity will not work until you look down.


  1. Great post, Ken. That reaching out to hit send is incredibly difficult for me!

  2. I am very practiced with the send button. Unfortunately, the places I send to don’t seem to be as experienced.