Writing Books/Disciplin


I have loads of ideas and I think they are good, at first.  Then self doubt creeps in.  How do you discipline yourself to stick with an idea when that happens.

Hi, Sara!

Sorry for the delay in responding. I'm at a book conference and wasn't able to get to a computer for a couple of days.

Self-doubt is something that happens to every writer. Sometimes it's when a plot doesn't sound as good on paper as it did in your head, and sometimes it's just that the characters aren't the right ones for the plot. Mostly, you have to figure out what part of the process you're doubting.

Something that might help is to decide whether your stories are character-driven or plot driven. The easiest way to tell that is whether, if you took the characters and plopped them into a completely different story, the characters would still be the SAME PEOPLE or whether it's the plot that makes them what (and who) they are. If so, then you might have a character-driven story. If that's the case, try changing the plot somewhat to see if it continues to interest you. Sometimes, just a tweak of the plot is all it takes to get a character-driven story back on track.

Then, do the opposite. If the story would stand with two entirely people, give that a try. Pick entirely different people and see if it's just that the personalities of the people aren't making the plot be all it can be.

The other thing that could be the problem is that you're the type of writer known as a "pantser." That's a "seat-of-the-pants" writer who creates as they type. Sometimes new writers get the idea that they MUST plot out the story on notecards or stickies or in their head before they start to write. Sometimes, friends will "help" by asking "so what happens next?" Unfortunately, if you're a pantser, you have no idea what comes next until you start to write it. And, if you try to give an answer and come up with an idea for how it ends, it'll sound WONDERFUL in your head. But then, it's done. You literally CAN'T write it, because the story's over and it's now boring. Some published writers I know get really irritable when the story finishes in their head instead of on the page, because it'll forever remain unfinished.

So, once you figure out what it is you're doubting, you'll be in a better position to know how to fix it. If you're doubting something else entirely, let me know what it is and I'll try to offer some advice to help you through it. :)

Good luck!

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.