Are You Doing Enough? And Other Questions From A Writer’s Overloaded Mind

Writing a book isn’t an easy task. Finishing it, selling it, pitching it, or submitting it, feels just as insurmountable some days.

There are writers who never achieve such a milestone. Not because they didn’t want to—or try to—but because everything about writing is hard.

You’ve got to think of a story. Write it. Re-write it. Edit it. Re-write it. Allow someone you trust to read it. Re-write it. Send it to beta readers. Re-write it. Edit it again. Re-write it. Learn how to write. Re-write it. Have it assessed by a professional. Re-write it. Become an expert in plot structure. Re-write it. Learn deep POV. Re-write it. Send it on submission. Re-write it. Leave it to rest. Re-write it. Type “The End” for what you swear is the last time. Re-write it. Receive a rejection. Re-write it.

You would think all of that and the millionth re-write would keep your brain occupied. But no. A writer’s brain is always firing, creating plot points, character traits, and zingy dialogue. It’s also working through a multitude of questions, most of which go a little something like this…

  • Did you blog this week? Should you start a blog?
  • Did you write 1,000 words? Should you cut 500?
  • Do you listen to the self-doubt. Do you agree with it?
  • Do you take bad feedback to heart? Can you prove them wrong?
  • Are you a writer? Are you a wannabe?
  • Are you reading? Are you reviewing?
  • Are you helping other writers? Are they helping you?
  • Are you filling your days? Are you wasting your time?
  • Do you give in? Do you keep moving forward?
  • Do you put it in a drawer? Do you put it on a pedestal?
  • Do you celebrate every little win? Do you punish yourself for every failure?
  • Do you get a break? Will you ever get your big break?
  • Are you doing all you can? Are you maximizing your time?
  • Are these edits making your prose better? Are they making things worse?
  • Is it worth it? Is it what you thought it would be?
  • Are you skilled enough? Will you ever be skilled enough?
  • Can you stick it out when the words won’t come? Is there a limit to how much rejection you can take?
  • Does it make you happy? Will it always make you happy?
  • Do you give up? Do you keep going?
  • Are you doing enough? Will it ever be enough?

These questions you may ask yourself daily, or only once and then never again. They take up space with everything else you have to do and squeeze themselves in around the re-writes.

Some days they’re asked loud. Other times in a whisper. Will they ever be answered? Will they be replaced with new ones as you upgrade as a writer? That’s just more questions to add to a list that’s already past full.

Are you doing enough? Probably not. Are you doing what you can? If the answer is yes, then that’s good enough. It has to be because there’s no more room in your brain for anything else.

— K.M. Allan

24 thoughts on “Are You Doing Enough? And Other Questions From A Writer’s Overloaded Mind

  1. I have *many* of those thoughts constantly dancing around my brain, especially the little self-doubt gremlins that turn up uninvited to the party then eat all the food lol. I need to get better at being my own cheerleader & having faith in my writing for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sounds like you’ve gotta stop feeding those Gremlins after midnight, Carly 😅. Seriously, though, it’s so easy to settle into a negative mindset and lose that faith. That’s why I love the writing community so much. We all think these things, so there’s others around that can cheerlead for you until you get your own writing faith back 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, as always! It perfectly sums up the constant battle of being a writer and all the things we stress and worry about. Endless re-writes are just that…endless! Or at least they feel that way. This is a perfect reminder to work hard, but respect ourselves and keep going. ❤️

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  3. ALL of these. And then the plot bunnies start in, and now you don’t know whether you should be working on the current book or the next one, or that short story idea that sounded so cool when you woe up at 3am… 😉

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  4. Well, you can be sure you’re helping others! I, due to where I am with my story, still accept advice more than I give but I hope I’ll be able to return the favor one day. I am already trying, even if in a different way. For now, I try to give feedback to people seeking it on Goodreads or just share my point of view on some things like genres and blurbs, trying to make the best from the fact that I am somewhere between a reader and a writer – and hoping my opinion helps.

    Side note: ‘Re-write more’ turned to ‘cut more’ for me in the last two drafts. When I first heard that 10-15% of the manuscript usually gets the knife, I thought it impossible. With a better look, cutting the ‘fluff’ brought me down to (currently) 215.500 words while the peak in the second draft was almost 30.000 more.

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  5. These questions have become almost traumatic for me. I don’t feel like I am doing enough, and yet I find it hard to find time to do more than I am doing. I think there is line between genuinely not doing enough, and on the other side, being to hard on yourself. The trouble is, I can’t find that darn line!

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  6. I’m pretty much yes on everything you mentioned.

    It is exhausting and I’m sure all of us ask why we’re doing it. But relationships are exhausting. Parenthood. Owning a pet. The list can go on. We are drawn to this because it is apart of who we are and we’re willing to put up with everything on your list.

    I swear if everyone knew just how hard we worked we’d get the biggest gold star anyone ever saw.

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  7. Perfect timing for me, thank you. Makes me realise I am not alone with this tremendous feeling of being overwhelmed. I am struggling with outlining and structure and with a story spanning several decades, this is not easy. Do you have any experience handling significant time leaps? Any tips welcomed. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Lyndy. You’re definitely not alone. I wish I had some tips for you but I have no experience with huge time leaps, sorry. Good luck with it though. The best advice I can give is to research it, go with the advice that makes sense to you, and take all the time you need to get it right. That’s what works for me when I’m trying to attempt a writing process I haven’t tried before.


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