Why am I constantly plagued by the question of “am I good enough?”
Why does this society, this culture, this world make people doubt themselves, and judge themselves so harshly? How do I know my books are good enough? Is it sales? Is it reviews? Is it praise, or people joining my reader group? How will I know when I have reached success? What does success mean to me?
These are the questions I ask myself daily, multiple times a day even. And the days since this pandemic hit, have been no exception. In fact, some days are worse than before Covid-19. My sales have suffered just a little bit, and so I’ve had to dive into ads pretty heavily. And every day that I make sales, I wonder how many of those people will read my book and then read the next, and the next. I wonder how many people will enjoy it, and whether it truly is good enough. I wonder if I’m just a fraud, and that at some point someone is going to stand up and say “Hey! You aren’t a real author!”
So what is it about this culture that makes us doubt our abilities? This question in particular has bugged me for years. I am currently seeing two different therapists for various traumas, depression, OCD, and anxiety, and one of the major themes we’ve been focusing on is my self-esteem. I struggle to like myself, let alone love myself as I should. The trouble with this, is that I then doubt myself and suffer from a lack of confidence. There are of course, other consequences, but in relation to my art, this is what hurts me the most.
I remember a time when I was a small child, when I wasn’t full of self-hatred. When I was brave and strong and confident. Before the world taught me I wasn’t good enough. And what does that say about our culture that we beat our children down until they no longer believe they can do anything? That, my friends, is a sad revelation. Because when the world is falling down around us, who do we turn to for comfort? The arts.
I’m striving to find that confident and brave child within me again, but it is going to be a long journey. So in the meantime, I worry with every word that I put on the page.
Every time that crippling self doubt happens, I usually go and look at my sales and my reader group and my positive reviews to remind myself that at least some people have found joy in my stories. That usually gives me a small boost.
I also like to think about something I learned from Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle from 20booksto50k about Minimum Viable Product (MVP). You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have the best book ever written in history. You just need the best book you can write with the resources you have, and as long as it qualifies as a MVP, then you’ve done it. You can always sell a MVP. And being an indie author is a business, so it makes sense to think of my books as a product.
But beyond having a MVP, how will I know I’ve made it? For me, it’s having fans. It’s being engaged with my community. It’s being a full-time writer. And it’s writing the stories in my heart for others, hopefully generations to come, to read and enjoy.
And I’m part-way there. Despite the crippling self doubt and imposter syndrome, I’ll keep striving for my dreams. You should too. Don’t give up, and don’t listen to a world that wants you to fail.