Thursday, July 28, 2016

Crippling Self Doubt

There's a meme going around Facebook for writers which, paraphrased, says "Give someone a book and they are entertained for an hour. Teach someone to write and they are crippled with paralyzing self-doubt for the rest of their lives."

I don't subscribe to that. Writing comes easy to me. However, doubt also comes easy to me. Not for writing, but for other things. With doubt comes depression and that I do suffer from and have for a long, long time. This is not a post about depression and stuff, because I want to keep the Alana pen name happy and talking about writing and sexy things and stuff. But, you know, life happens and people do get sad or depressed (which are not the same thing) or busy or any number of things. How do you work, as a writer, through it?

If you can't write, there are still a number of things you can do instead which are still work, at least for self-published authors.

  • Edit: Editing's not fun, but if you can't write, sometimes you can still go through what you have written and make changes. Sometimes it might inspire you. Sometimes it might depress you more, but it's worth a shot.
  • Work on ideas: This one is much more fun. You can brainstorm and try to come up with new ideas. You can expand on ideas you have already. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to make sense. Even in the midst of sadness and thinking, "UGH GOD I AM THE WORST WRITER EVER" you can still use that sadness to come up with sad things, or tragic characters, or the worst situation you can think of. Believe me, depressed people are really fucking creative when it comes to thinking how awful things are. Why not use that? You may discard all of the ideas later when you are feeling better, but you might find something in your ennui or sadness which you can use.
  • Work on covers. A lot of self-published people do their own covers. A lot of them are pretty standard: stock photo, name, title, done. Some are more elaborate. Even if you don't feel like writing, you can still do something creative which will help you later on. No, you may not have a story ready for it, but if you find a stock photo which is really cool and you make a cover for it, you have inspiration for when you are ready. Keep in mind I write erotica and I have another pen which writes romance, so covers are pretty simple overall. That may not work if you write for horror or science fiction, or if you hire someone to do your covers.
  • Bundle stories together. Again, I come from an erotica background here, and many erotica writers bundle their stories together. I advise against using the same stories over and over again, because your customers want new stuff, but if you have the blahs and don't want to write, then you can take some of your stories with a similar theme or niche and bundle them together using three or more of them. It takes a bit of work editing it for table of contents and links and suchlike, as well as a cover, but you can have a many page book ready to go in less than an hour and then sit back and think, "Well, I'm at least publishing a book for today." And you can charge higher prices for them too, of course. Erotica generally sells at 2.99$ for a price point. For a bundle of three stories, I charge 3.99$. For four to five, it's around 4.99$, and so on. It's another way to make money off of work you've already done.
  • If you haven't investigated audio books or print books, then do some research. I can't recommend making audio books enough. It's free money, basically. You've already done your work! Check out and for audio and print books through Amazon. If you publish through Amazon already, you're a step ahead. I haven't investigated print books yet, but I do plan to. Audio books are very easy to make. If you are already into that, then put another of your books up for a producer to audition for, or look for narrators. It's work. It will make you money. Best of all, it's really light on the work you need to do at that moment. 
  • Go to social media. Social media isn't about advertising your books, though I'm sure many authors use it for that. It's to make a connection with like minded people, like other authors, and to connect with your fans. You can find things to post which inspire you to write or remind you of a character--say a music video or a song, perhaps pictures posted to Pinterest--or make observations on life. Go through your friends list and read what they are posting. Comment on it. Like people's posts (if you like them; I will never advocate lying to boost yourself. It comes back to bite you later). Interact. This has the added benefit of communication and contact with anonymity. I know when I'm sad it's sometimes easier to talk to a stranger than someone close to me, and it helps cheer me up. People are more inclined to buy books from an author they know than a stranger.
All of these things can be work, and many are needed to be done to write and sell self-published books. I know life and writing and stuff can be discouraging at times, but you shouldn't let it stop you. Being a self-published author is pretty rewarding, but it can be tough too, so you need to just keep going and treat it like a job... a job you love and like doing, but a job nevertheless. Like many jobs, there are many aspects of self-publishing which have to be addressed and even if you aren't in the mood to write, there's still a LOT you can do to help achieve your goals.


  1. Great post. I haven't hard a lot of time to write lately, but I'm always working on ideas. I take a notebook with me on my weekend hikes and just let my mind wander.

    I like the bundle idea as well. Once I get my 3 'fear' stories published on Amazon, I'm looking to do a Smashwords bundle to hit some new readers/markets.

    1. Bundling is always a good idea as long as you don't overbundle! Putting stories A B and C together is good, but putting A B D then A C D then B C D and so on is bad.

      Also, so sorry it took me so long to publish this... I have been busy on other projects and just hadn't had time to blog a bit and thus hadn't seen it. :)