It’s okay. It really is.
I know it makes you feel like utter crap, and sometimes, it’s crippling. Doubt can make you want to give up. It makes you feel like not only are you not good enough, everyone else thinks the same thing. (Its brother is insecurity.)
But there’s a time when you have to pick yourself up. It becomes do or die–if you don’t keep truckin’, you will not finish this book. You will not get published. Period. Isn’t that great?
Sometimes, it can be. If you let your doubt fuel your drive, you will do well. The only problem is that it’s so hard to run away from the fear and the insecurity, and sometimes you don’t even want to escape. You think that maybe you weren’t meant for this writing thing, that it was just some silly phase like everyone said it was. Past-tense.
This is where you have to step back and ask yourself the big questions: Why did I start writing? Why did I continue? Do I want this anymore? How much?
Am I good enough?
You need to ask yourself these things, and you need to answer as honestly and as objectively as you can. If you just started because it was a phase, or if you continued for something to do and you don’t really care if you publish, maybe publication isn’t for you. That’s okay–you’re not less of a writer anymore because you’re not going to publish. In fact, that’s an incredibly brave decision.
But what about the last question?
The truth is, you can’t answer that one objectively. There’s no set list of rules to grade writing. You can count the number of grammar mistakes, but how compelling your story is isn’t an empirical thing.
So when you’re wondering how to answer that question, just remember: Writing is a skill. Like any skill, it improves as you practice it. You don’t improve by not doing it; in fact, you get worse.
I encourage you to keep trying, even in the face of self-doubt. It’s hard and it’s scary and you need to be brave, but if you truly want to reach readers? If you truly want to affect someone’s life with your words? You’ll find a way.