Don’t let self-doubt derail your novel

Has this ever happened to you? One day you’re feeling great about your novel, and the next day you feel woeful.

You’re not alone.

The dreaded confidence see-saw is all too common, even for accomplished writers. It comes with the territory of this wonderful but agonising solitary art form called writing. The secret is not to give in to it.

Here’s a cautionary tale with a happy ending.

Susie came to me for feedback on her first few chapters after she had a big confidence dip.

She’d plotted her book and written some chapters, but her confidence nose-dived when she saw a YouTube video about mistakes beginner writers make. She’d committed at least one of these ‘mistakes’ and wondered if there were more things she was ‘doing wrong’. She started to doubt herself so much that she stopped writing. But rather than give in to the doubt, she decided to get help. Hoorah for Susie. Good move.

She booked a dip-your-toe manuscript appraisal with me even though, as she told me later, she was terrified that I was going to suggest she put the novel aside and take up a writing course.

And I’m glad she did because her self-doubt was totally misplaced. Her voice, characters and story were all really strong, and book’s potential was bursting off the page. Sure, there were things that needed refining or developing, but that’s standard for a first draft. No novel comes out fully formed first time round.

We spent an hour going through her first 15K words, starting with me pointing out her strengths so she knew she had a lot to be proud of already, moving on to areas of craft she could improve or refine, then discussing characters to see if my impressions of them fitted with how she hoped they’d come across, and finally looking at the potential of the story.

At the end of the session her fears were allayed and she was jumping to get back into it.

What would have happened if she’d given in to that doubt rather than reaching out? Her writing career would have been over before it had even started. What a waste!

So, the moral of the story?

Don’t let self-doubt derail your novel and don’t get lost down the rabbit hole of YouTube writing videos.

If you’re feeling unsure, get some professional feedback – preferably from me because I’m the one who’s suggested the idea and also because I’ve got a nifty, affordable service that’s tailor-made for the situation: a one-hour appraisal workshop of your first 15,000 words for just $450.

I call it the dip-your-toe appraisal because you’ll be dipping your toe into the soothing waters of writing coaching.

And whether that’s the beginning or the end of your work with me, you’ll no longer be alone, because there’s someone else who cares about your novel as much as you do.

Sound good?

Let’s talk.

Use this link to set up a phone call or Zoom chat

(Or if you’re feeling shy, send me an email using this form.)

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Lu Sexton

Hello, I’m Lu Sexton. Helping writers get their novel where they want it is my favourite thing to do.

I developed my coaching method through years of working as an editor with new writers. I started offering manuscript appraisals in a workshop setting rather than as a written report, which the writers really loved, and so did I. So it grew from there.

If you are curious about how I could help you, give me a call or drop me a line.

Contact Lu

I feel I can’t praise Lu highly enough. I’d come to a standstill with my writing process and contacted Lu for a dip-your-toe mini-appraisal. After reading only a few chapters of my work it was obvious to me that Lu ‘got it’. She had a true sense of my characters and which direction I wanted to/should take them in. She made a few suggestions that I would never have thought of myself but feel will benefit my work immensely. I felt comfortable and at ease with her from the beginning and hope to work with her again soon. Thanks for everything, Lu xx

P M Edwards