How Authors Can Fight Self-Doubt

author doubt tips

author doubt tipsby Lindsay Harrel, @LindsayHarrel

Newsflash: Today, I am writing this post for myself.

My next book, The Heart Between Us, releases March 13. Reviews from advanced copies are starting to roll in. In my head, I know that every book is bound to get both positive and negative reviews.

I know that.

And yet.

My eyes automatically fly to the negative ones, ignoring the positive ones or brushing them off for one reason or another. My heart sinks. Discouragement takes over. It begins to cripple me as I try to write the next book.

As authors, we will all face self-doubt at some point. Many of us will battle it our entire careers. For those trying to share an important message of any kind, self-doubt can severely limit our effectiveness.

And that is exactly where Satan wants us to be.

But guess what? You have a choice.

Let me say it again: YOU have a choice.

Here are some strategies we can employ to fight self-doubt (and yep, I need to take my own advice):

  • Consider whether to read reviews. You guys, I am struggling with this one. I tend to be sensitive by nature, and even though authors are supposed to have “thick skin,” I think it’s always going to hurt a little when someone says nasty or negative things about something you’ve spent lots of time and energy on—and put your heart into. Some authors say the solution is to only read the positive reviews, but that could give you an inflated view of your books and how they’re being received (or it would for me, anyway). I’ve heard others say they only read reviews that people send to them, and I think this is a good middle ground.

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  • Stop the comparison game. We’ve all done it. While we’re writing our hearts out, we spend an evening reading another author in our genre (which is what we’re supposed to do, right?)—and we realize our work will never measure up to this other author’s brilliance. Ugh. But guess what? You are the only one who can write the story you’re writing. You are the only one who can tell it like it’s meant to be told. This planet is full of people who need truth. Write yours. Let others write theirs. The world will be better for it.
  • Remember your “why.” I have to focus on this one A LOT. Why am I writing? I’ve always been an overachiever, someone focused on success. I was this way in high school, in college, and now in my career as an author. It’s my nature to want to be the best. But guess what? All of that success stuff is out of my hands, and at the end of the day, while accolades are nice, they are dust in the wind. The only things that are eternal are people and God—so I want those to be my focus as I write.
  • Exchange lies for the truth. It’s not enough to tell yourself that something isn’t true. You also have to tell yourself what IS true. The first step is obviously recognizing the lie (e.g., you aren’t good enough). The next one is to replace it with God’s truth about you (e.g., you are not defined by what you do, but by whose you are; God has called you, and he equips those he calls; etc.).
  • The biggest weapon we have against self-doubt is prayer. For years, I have questioned what prayer really does, but I just started The Armor of God Bible study by Priscilla Shirer and whew—am I learning. In the very first video, Shirer tells us that prayer is what activates the armor of God. It was like thunder went off. Mind. Blown.We have all manner of weaponry at our disposal as believers—and as authors. Let’s use it to fight back against the lies of the one who wants nothing more than to destroy us and make us ineffective for what we’ve been called to do.

Remember, when those negative feelings of doubt come, you have a choice. Don’t sit idly by! Be proactive, make a plan, and call on God to fight self-doubt for you.


The Heart Between Us

(Releases March 13, 2018) Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. Her debut novel, One More Song to Sing, released in December 2016 and was a finalist in the 2017 ACFW Carol Awards. Her second book, The Heart Between Us, releases from Thomas Nelson in March 2018. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time.  Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com or onFacebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

7 Tips for Writing With Young Kids at Home

by Lindsay Harrel, @LindsayHarrel

I have basically wanted to be an author my whole life. There were several years when I thought it would be too hard, that I couldn’t handle the competition, yadayadayada. But finally in 2011, I decided to pursue publication. I had been married for five years, had just finished my master’s degree, and worked full time.

I spent the next three years writing and honing my craft. I attended several My Book Therapy retreats, read countless craft books, and headed off to a number of writing conferences. Because my husband and I both worked, I had a bit of extra money to do all of these things. I saved my vacation time for these events. I was able to devote a decent chunk of time each week to writing.

And then…I had kids.

My first son was born in December 2014, and we added a second in April of this year. I worked part time with my first until he was 10 months old and then decided to become a stay-at-home mom. In addition to being all the things that come with motherhood (doctor, chauffeur, personal chef, etc.), I have to find time to write. Because while being a mom was a dream of mine, being a published author was also a dream.

I remember being pregnant with my first son and worrying that I’d have to give up writing—something I’d just spent three years devoted to learning more about! A friend of mine told me something I will never forget: we find time for the things we are passionate about.

Yes, there are some people who do all they can and hear God telling them to put aside writing for a season while they raise their children. If that is you, that is okay.

But if that is NOT you—and it hasn’t been me—then you must find time to fit writing into a life full of Cheerios, dirty diapers, whining, discipline, and Daniel Tiger. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way:

  1. Carve out time. If I do not put writing time on my calendar, it will not happen. Period. I have started devoting nap time every day to my writing (and on that note, get your kids all napping or doing quiet time at the same time for at least an hour!). Whenever you write—early morning, evenings, one evening a week at Starbucks—use the time available to you. Make an appointment with your computer and keep it just like you do all the other appointments throughout the week!
  2. Say no to other commitments. We all have limited time. If you’re saying yes to one thing, you’re automatically saying no to another. There are a lot of great things we can say yes to, but not all of them are the best yes (go read Lysa TerKeurst’s The Best Yes for more on this concept!). You might have to skip out on a few play dates or learn to say no to volunteer opportunities you feel pressured to do. Consider how much time you really have and use it wisely.

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  1. Cut out the non-essentials.When I looked at my schedule after having children, I realized I was watching five hours of television a week. That was five hours I could be writing! Also, I realized a long time ago that pursuing a dream like writing meant my house was not going to perfect. It isn’t apig sty, but it will never win an award for cleanest house on the block. And I’m okay with that.
  2. Set weekly goals. It’s really easy for us to say we want to write 2,000 words a day—but what happens when the baby wakes early from a nap or the toddler melts down when he should be playing independently in his room? I like to set weekly goals instead of daily ones because it gives me some flexibility. For example, right now I am drafting my next book and I have set the goal to write five scenes a week. Ideally, I’d like to write one scene a day during the week and have the weekends off (Saturday to clean, Sunday to rest), but I know that I have a little wiggle room if something doesn’t go as planned on one of those weekdays.
  3. Get creative. Thanks to technology, writing doesn’t have to mean sitting down at our computer and plunking away at the keys. I know many authors who use tools like Evernote to dictate their stories. Also, writing with young kids means lots of interruptions, so it might not be feasible for you to write in one- or two-hour chunks of time. Instead, maybe you need to write in fifteen-minute increments. Get creative and you might get more writing done than you think you will!
  4. Fling that guilt far, far away. I know what you’re thinking—I should be doing x, y, and z instead of pursuing this dream of mine. STOP LISTENING TO THAT LIE RIGHT NOW! Personally, I’m a much better mom because I write. I have something that is mine (and God’s) and a place to pour my energies that has nothing to do with keeping someone else alive—and everything to do with keeping my spirit alive. Self-care is important and it is NOT a selfish thing to take time to pursue your dream. When you are refreshed, you have more energy to pour into other people, especially your family.
  5. Keep your priorities straight. That being said, while writing IS important, it is not the MOST important. I find that I’m a much happier mommy when I spend time with God every morning. Not only does that help me have a better attitude during the moments I want to scream, but it provides inspiration for my writing. My family is my next priority. While there are seasons (like when I’m on deadline) when dinner will consist of frozen pizzas and other easy things my husband can cook, it’s not okay for me to totally neglect all of my duties all the time in order to write. There’s a healthy balance and it’s up to you to decide what that looks like for your family.

Don’t let being a parent of young kids stop you from pursuing your dreams. You CAN do this. Write that book one word at a time.


The Heart Between Us

(Releases March 13, 2018) Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. Her debut novel, One More Song to Sing, released in December 2016 and was a finalist in the 2017 ACFW Carol Awards. Her second book, The Heart Between Us, releases from Thomas Nelson in March 2018. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time.  Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com or onFacebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Worry and the Journey to Publication

By
Lindsay Harrel

Last
week I was cleaning out my home office—which had slowly become the junk room in
our house. I’ve been putting it off for awhile now, but with the upcoming
arrival of a new baby, it had to be done. When sorting through items I’d long
forgotten about, I came upon a journal from five years ago.
As I
read, I discovered entries from the very beginning of my writing journey. There
were some entries where I was excited to finally be pursuing this dream, one
I’d held in my heart since childhood. Other entries expounded upon all the
knowledge I’d been gaining through craft books, conferences, and other sources.
But then
there were the entries filled with something I’ve struggled with most of my
life: worry. Pages and pages full of questions and doubts. Would I ever be able
to make this a reality? Would I give up after a year of trying? Would I find
out I really didn’t have what it takes to be a published author?
There
was one journal entry dated about six months into my journey that really stood
out to me. In it, I went back and forth on whether to submit my first novel to
an editor who had requested it. I agonized over that decision, fearing that if
it wasn’t ready (which it wasn’t!!), I’d ruin any future chances I had in the
industry—but also worrying that if I didn’t take that chance, I’d always regret
it.
You
guys—if I’ve learned anything, it’s that one single action can’t destroy someone’s
chances at publication forever (of course, I’m not talking about something that
burns bridges or is egregious, rude, or ill-mannered). Either you believe God
is in this or you don’t. He has the perfect timing, the perfect path for YOU.
I saw a meme
going around the Internet this month that said, “If it doesn’t open, it’s not
your door.” Over the last five years, I’ve stood at many doors and knocked
incessantly, begging them to open—to no avail. Then I worried about why they
didn’t open. Was I not worthy? Had God forgotten about me? Did I unknowingly
upset someone important?
Now I
look back and I shake my head. The worry did me absolutely no good. The doubt
didn’t help me blossom into a better writer. It only weighed me down and choked
the life and energy out of me. It wasn’t until I was able to “let go and let
God” have control that I was at peace in my writing journey. I put my head down
and kept writing. One book. Another. Another. And another.
And
then, seemingly out of the blue (though it wasn’t out of the blue for God), I
received my first contract in March of this year. My debut novel, One More Song to Sing, is set to release
later this week, on December 1.
I was
talking about this with a friend of mine recently. She grinned and said, “Remember
all that worrying you did? Guess it wasn’t necessary after all.” She was
totally right. Let me tell you, I didn’t add a single moment to my life by
worrying (Matthew 6:27).
Learn
from my mistakes. Don’t let worry take over your journey. Fight back. Replace
those ugly lies Satan is feeding you with healthy doses of the Truth.
God has
the right door for you. It may not look the way you thought it would. It may
take a lot longer to reach it than you wanted. But every step along this
journey is one that leads you closer to your goal.
Keep
fighting—and keep writing.
TWEETABLES


Bio:
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who
lives in Arizona with her young family, and two golden retrievers in serious
need of training. Besides writing, singing, and hanging out with family and
friends, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with
anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Her debut
novel, One More Song to Sing,
releases December 2016. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com.




Book Blurb:

More than two decades ago, Olivia Lovett left
her old life behind in the red dirt of Oklahoma and forged a career in
Nashville as a country music star. Now her voice is failing, forcing her to
find a new dream just as the secrets of her past come knocking at the door.
Long-time friend Andrew Grant agrees to partner in a new business venture—but
would he stick around if he knew her whole story?

After the tragic loss of her father,
twenty-one-year-old Ellie Evans headed to Nashville seeking more than just
fame. For two years, she’s waitressed, strummed, and sung her way to what may
finally be her big break when Olivia offers to sign her to the budding record
label. More than anything, Ellie just wants to be seen: by her future fans, by
Nick Perry—a fellow musician with a killer smile and kind eyes—and above all
else, by the mother who abandoned her. If the spotlight never shines on her,
will Ellie ever feel whole?

One More
Song to Sing
is a romantic drama
about the power of forgiveness, second chances, and a God who never fails to
see us.