Are You Good Enough?

Writers continually question themselves. Is this idea worth pursuing? Are my characters realistic? Is this plot twist surprising? Could I have worked harder to hit my word count? One of the most frustrating questions they ask is, Am I good enough?

It’s frustrating because there isn’t a straight-up answer. There’s no test you can take or app you can use. Even if you have confirmation from fellow writers, readers, or publishers, you’ll still be looking for that answer. It’s the nature of being a writer, to constantly doubt yourself, to compare your words to the words of others and wonder where it is that you measure up.

I wish I could just type it right here and give you the assurance that you’re looking for, but it doesn’t work like that. Not for me and not for you. You won’t believe me. Partly because of the self-doubt, but also because you’ve come to this blog from Facebook or Instagram. From the place full of feeds where other writers have spent the day adding 3,000 words to their WIP when you’ve only managed to write 3. You’ve seen the wordsmiths who are popping champagne after signing with the first agent they queried when you were rejected by that same agent a year ago. And you’ve spent the morning reading about the novelists who aren’t shy about the fact they only took up writing as a hobby two years ago and have just signed a publishing contract, while you the I’ve-wanted-to-do-this-my-whole-life writer, has been receiving nothing but rejections for three straight years.

Are those writers better than you? Are you less talented than them? It’s easy to think you must be. After all, they are signing contracts that will see their manuscripts turned into books, whilst the only thing your manuscript has done is collect enough rejections so that the story you poured your soul in to, received great beta feedback on and was brave enough to send out, is now something you hate. It represents failure, rejection, and what you can only assume must be the absolute truth that you are not good enough.

But you shouldn’t assume that. You can’t assume that. You don’t know if you’re not good enough. You don’t even know if those other writers are good enough, not until you’ve read their work, and even then, I’m sure you know of plenty of books that have been published where you wondered how on earth that manuscript made it out of the slush pile.

So question it. Wonder if you’re good enough. Vent that you don’t know if you are (perhaps in a self-serving, therapeutic blog post?). Complain that everyone else is getting a break and that you’re not, and then scream (or cry) into a pillow that you want your turn. Then, when you’ve finished venting, complaining, screaming and sobbing, ask yourself not if you’re good enough, but if you’ve done enough?

Have you written today (either 3 words or 3,000, both are great)? Have you really listened to your beta readers, friends, agents or publishers who included the unicorn of responses and gave you constructive feedback? Did you apply those changes or think you know better and refuse? Did you read all the books or take all of the courses you can about writing and editing? Have you given your all to your manuscript and changed those darlings you know should be cut? Have you tried every option you have to get published and not just a handful of agents and then called it a day? If you have tried all these things, and are still trying, then you are good enough.

You’re good enough to call yourself a writer, and one day you may be the story someone else reads about and wonders if you are better than them.

Every writer is on their own journey. You can’t control it. You can’t predict when your time will come—or even if your time will come at all. All you can do is write the best way you know how. Submit again even when it’s rejection after rejection, and learn and grow as a writer. Those are the things that you should be asking of yourself, not questions that you can’t answer. And in doing those things, you won’t have to question if you’re good enough because your actions will prove that you are.

— K.M. Allan

To follow all of my vents, rhetorical questions, and writing progress visit my Facebook and Instagram pages.

24 thoughts on “Are You Good Enough?

  1. It’s kind of eerie how just when I start to run out of steam or I’m having doubts about something, you post another blog and it feels like you’re talking to me… like the feeling people get when they’re in church and they think the pastor is sermonizing their life. Love your post. Thanks for letting me know it’s not just me and I’m not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Signed by the first agent you query? What’s that nonsense! 🙂 I think my first book was rejected over 100 times, if you count the non-answers. But I just got a signed contract today. I think being good enough is mostly a personal feeling, it’s part of the drive to keep going in the face of resistance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your blogs are always perfect, but I needed THIS so much! As I near the end of the second draft, I find myself doubting the story, wondering if it is weak, boring, pointless…
    You highlight this common feeling so well here, and I love all the advice. ❤ Here's to trying to be more positive, so I can get this book ready to meet beta readers…eek!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, M. Trust me when I say that everyone doubts what they’re writing and thinks it’s the worst story written. Good luck with getting your MS ready for beta readers. If you want to do a swap when it’s ready and beta read for each other, I’m more than happy to. Just send me a dm.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ruth Miranda

    I have a tendency – I suffer from narcisistic tendencies a lot! – to deem myself good enough, in my eyes. What I constantly question is whether I am good enough for others, all the time, about every single thing in my life, not just the writing. All the time I question if my writing for instance, will be good enough in someone’s eye, someone who is already set to NOT like it because it comes from me and they don’t like me, I question if my sole existence is good enough for others. I don’t question my worth for myself, but I do question it when it comes to others. My self doubt is not based on my personal opinion of myself, or comparison to others, it stems from doubting others will find me enough, or even worthy of breathing. Hard to explain.

    Liked by 1 person

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