Navigate self-doubt with style and write about your work and proudest accomplishments without your inner critic getting in the way.

“Is this idea good enough?”

“Who am I to write about this?”

“What if my post is misunderstood?”

“This is stupid! What was I thinking?”

Everyone writing about themselves, their work and their projects gets attacked at times. Not by vicious trolls – but by self-doubt. 

The impact can be more dramatic than that of any troll attack: you start self-censoring your thoughts, or even preventing yourself from getting them on paper in the first place. 

If you succumb to these self-sabotaging thoughts, you might feel relieved for a moment. “Phew, I don’t need to face criticism or failure!”

But how long is that feeling of relief going to last, before giving place to disappointment? Once more, you didn’t use your voice to grow your business and career and to make an impact. 

I’ve been a writer for more than 20 years and have written as a hobby even before that. Believe me, that feeling of self-doubt and the temptation to give in to it is no stranger to me.

However, throughout the years, I’ve gathered a sturdy toolkit of strategies to navigate those crises of self-confidence faster and faster. 

Here are fifteen of them.

1 – Write as often as possible

A writing break is like a superfood for self-doubt: the longer you go without writing, the stronger the conviction you should never pick it up again. Make it a habit to write several times a week, even if it only means jotting down a few notes or scribbling a draft for a social media post in your notebook.

2 – Ask yourself: “Where is this coming from?”

Self-doubt always has a message.  When you start questioning yourself, your writing and your expertise, ask “Where is this self-doubt coming from?” It can be a sign that your idea still needs some maturing, or it can be your ego trying to keep you safe from potential negative feedback and learnings that can result from it. Getting to the bottom of your self-doubt makes it easier to talk yourself out of the hesitation and into the action.

Read More: Afraid of negative feedback? This is how to prepare

3 – Sort out your strategy

Self-doubt when writing can also be a sign of a lack of clarity. Are you clear about what you want to say and which purpose your writing serves? Double-check your strategy and get back to work. 

4 – Take a break

Negative thoughts pop up more easily when you’re mentally or physically exhausted. Go for a walk, meditate or take a nap and see if you feel any differently about your text after a break.

Read More: Writer’s block no more – After you’ve tried these 12 tricks

5 – Improve your writing routine

Mental and physical exhaustion are often linked to your writing routine, and changing your writing habits can help tackle negative emotions. Break the process up into smaller chunks (brainstorming, fine-tuning the idea, writing the first draft, finalisation) and leave enough time between working sessions for your ideas to simmer. Don’t work too long at a time but set a timer for 25 or 40 minutes and take even a short break after it buzzes. 

6 – Uplevel your writing skills

Skill is a powerful antidote to self-doubt. Writing courses teach you different structures and techniques to resort to when fearful thoughts creep up. The more different strategies you master, the easier it is to build a fortress against self-doubt.

7 – Ask for feedback

“Is my writing good enough?” is a risky question to ask yourself. Instead, ask someone you trust to give you feedback on your text. Be careful who you ask – and be precise about what you want feedback on! 

8 – Schedule your post

Very often, self-doubt is only a trick our mind plays to keep us safe and there’s nothing wrong with your writing. Cheat self-doubt by pre-scheduling your post – ideally to a time of the day when you’ll be busy with other things and can’t sneak in to cancel the posting at the last minute. 

Read more: Go one step further and outsource the scheduling, too!

9 – Search for inspiration

Go and look for inspiration from other people’s writing. What are they doing well? How could you replicate that? And what is it that you don’t like? Compile inspiring examples in a folder you can look at when needing fresh inspiration. (And if it helps you, collate a file of bad examples you can go through on a bad day to remind yourself that others mess things up, too.)

10 – Write something else

When getting stuck with self-doubt, put the troublesome piece of writing aside and work on something else. Working on another piece of content allows you to gain momentum and confidence while waiting for your original idea to mature before publishing. 

11 – Power write yourself back on track

Sometimes waiting works – but sometimes we need action. Try setting the timer for 10-15 minutes (depending on the length of the text) and force yourself to put words on the screen during that time.  The chances are, you’ll be quite happy with the outcome.

Read More: Try these three ways to use the “Pomodoro” technique

12 – Update your content plan

Self-doubt can also arise from the feeling that you keep doing the same things. Update your content plan and add some fresh colour in the form of posts you don’t typically do. If you usually keep to yourself, share a personal update, or if your go-to format is a long text, test a video instead.

13 – Look at the analytics

Clear out self-doubt with data: look at the posts, formats, topics and channels that have worked well in the past. If a social media post has gotten a multi-four-figure reach, it can’t be all bad. If a post prompted dozens of comments, it must have hit a nerve.

Read more: Which metrics to track and 9 other questions about analytics

14 – Write a bad first draft

Are your expectations too high? Give yourself a new goal: write a bad first draft. You can always improve it later (and bad first drafts notoriously look much better the next day).

15 – Drop it!

What if you just let it go? If a piece of writing feels insurmountable, drop it. One empty spot in your publishing calendar is not the end of the world.

Create Your Own Mix

Self-doubt in writing can stem from countless things: lacking clarity about your message or strategy, harbouring fears and negative thought patterns about what might happen, being fed up with your current plan…

Because the situations change – and several of them can overlap – the best strategies ebb and flow over time, too. That’s why I’m encouraging you to mix and match these strategies and try as many different things as possible. No tool is going to work every single time – but most of the time, one of them will. 

Which strategies work for you, when self-doubt raises its head? Let me know in the comments, and let’s continue the discussion on LinkedIn!

Psst! Here’s one more tip!

You could always ask generative AI tools for some help. Watch this training on how to use AI tools to write better content. 

Uplevel your social media game and never lose another follower to competition again.

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