Writing doubts: climbing out of the pit

Writing Doubts: Climbing Out of the Pit

This guest post is by Bryan Hutchinson.

Sometimes I want to give up. Sometimes I don’t want to write anymore. And sometimes I do give up and stop writing.

Have you been there? Stuck and filled with doubt.

Seth Godin has a great term called The Dip for when you’re in a temporary setback, when you are ready to give up and decide to either quit, or stick. But there’s another dip, which is more about internal self-doubt, which I like to call the pit. For many of us, it is a very real place we fall into when we feel “lesser-than,” confused and exhausted from doubt, to the point of giving up.


The pit is deep, dark, cold, and damp. It’s not a place I want to be, and yet, I’ve found myself there more often than I would like.

It’s good that it’s not a nice place to be, because if it was pleasant, I might not climb back out, maybe you wouldn’t either.

Wanting to give up hurts because you know deep down, you want to continue, to strive and do your best. But for whatever reason, something is making you doubt yourself, and if you are not prepared, you can feel defeated.

For me this happens for different reasons at different times, and to a degree it is predictable, but still not easy to climb out of.

Writing to Overcome Struggle

I grew up with undiagnosed ADHD and dyslexia, so I’m used to being the underdog. For the longest time I didn’t feel I was good enough. I wasn’t able to finish high school, because no one figured out I had a learning disorder and ADHD. It would be years later when I was finally diagnosed.

But despite my limitations, somewhere deep inside of me I knew I wanted to be a writer.

When I write, I feel good. It is when I am at peace and feel I am worth more than any diagnosis.

I don’t know why writing makes me feel so good, but it does, and I am grateful for that.

But at the same time, writing can also be difficult. At times, sharing my writing leads to hearing things I don’t want to hear, criticisms that can be harsh and even feel mean. But, I write

For years, I hid my writing from the world because I believed I could not measure up. What can a high-school dropout say that would matter? Who would listen?

In my twenties, I went through a major depression lasting almost a decade. Eventually, I found help through a wise, caring therapist. He helped me realize I was worth more than what the educational system and teachers said I was. I found ways to learn on my own, and since I never ran out of words, I discovered I had something of real value to offer.

I believed I was “lesser-than” for so many years, hiding my writing and other talents to protect myself from living through more ridicule and defeat.

What finally helped me break free from my depression was writing my memoir, One Boy’s Struggle. It was a therapeutic exercise my therapist suggested. Initially, I had no intention of publishing it or sharing it with anyone.

When I finally finished writing my memoir, I felt a great sense of relief. While writing had always been therapeutic for me, the difference was the details I wrote about my life. In writing the ugly, the bad and the good, I discovered I am a remarkable individual who found ways to make his way in the world despite disadvantages.

Yes, I had to do things differently and learn most things on my own. But when you have a burning desire to do something, nothing and no one will be able to stop you.

The Remarkable You

If you have a burning desire to be a writer, be a writer and don’t worry about what someone might say about your writing. Sift. Take what’s positive from what people say. Learn from it and leave everything else. Don’t take it personally. Just keep writing.

Sometimes I forget my own advice when I feel overwhelmed, back in the bottom of the pit. Then I remind myself how far I have come, and how much I have worked to get to where I am. I use writing to tell my story to help me climb the damp walls back into the light. Hopefully it will inspire others to do the same.

So whenever you find yourself filled with doubt and you feel like giving up, remember what you have done to get to where you are, the many challenges you’ve overcome. Think about all your achievements. And remember you are a unique, remarkable individual. Write anyway.

You can do it. You’re a writer.

About the Author: Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books, including the highly acclaimed, bestselling One Boys Struggle: A Memoir. Bryan is also the author of two popular blogs ADDer World and Positive Writer, where he shares encouraging messages with his readers. In his spare time Bryan enjoys exploring castles across Europe with his wife, Joan Faith.

Tell me your opinion: How do you overcome your doubts about your writing?

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K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Bryan!

  2. I really needed to read this today. Thanks so much Bryan!!

  3. I’ve always had to struggle with feelings of inferiority. One of my older brothers actually took a writing course, and most of my older siblings wrote stories to some degree or another. My first struggle was to prove that I could be a writer, without cliche-ing off of their work. My second struggle was to prove that I could write AS good or better than they can.

    I’ve proven both points, and now, most other doubts seem like drops of water on a duck’s back. Except those times when I get the doldrums. :eyeroll:

    Glad to see there are other writers who’ve faced worse obstacles and overcome them. 😀
    Thanks for the post, Bryan.

  4. Thanks for having me over here, Katie.

    You’re welcome, Cate 🙂

    We all get the doldrums, Gideon. You are not alone.


  5. I have to keep telling myself true things to combat the negative things. I keep going no matter what. To me, writing is like breathing. I just have to write. Great post!

  6. “True things to combat the negative things.” – I like that, Anne! Keep going no matter what.

  7. Awesome post, Bryan! And, perfect timing. I’ve been struggling to keep up the momentum going with my writing, especially when it comes to finding topics to write about. Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Thanks so much for the inspiration. I needed it today!

  9. Thanks Kathryn for inviting Bryan Hutchinson. I’ve got to believe it took some good old courage to share his struggles. We’ve all been blessed by what he shared. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration!

  10. Only about once a day do I have doubts about my writing ability. I do wonder if I get better as each year passes, and I don’t think I do. Technically I do, because I read and study all I can about editing, but my writing skills, are still where they were 10 years ago. I still make the same mistakes.

    Of course this is particular to me, but I wonder how many others are like me. My sales figures speak for writing ability I believe.

    OK it’s hard to get noticed, but the ones who do all have something fresh to say. I’m not doing that yet, not sure I ever will. But I continue. Maybe I shouldn’t, and get smart, but writing is like a drug. As I sit here pounding the keys, it makes me feel like something.

  11. I’ve been there – and often. But as you say, the writing is what makes me feel better – what I love – when it’s just me and the language, the words, the characters and nothing else exists. It’s when the outward world has to be a part of it that I can panic or become afraid.

    I have a “brain” kind of weirdness that makes it difficult to write in certain ways, so when I write certain kinds of scenes or when I write the kind of book that is more “plotty” as I am now, it’s sometimes a physical discomfort to try to get my brain to cooperate – that black hole that I try to describe to people.

    The only way I overcome is to Show Up – to sit my butt down and open the manuscript and write (deadlines are a motivator, too!). My last book published I said, “no more – I don’t want to do this any more.” But of course I did, and I am, and will. It’s the one thing that’s my constant, the thing that makes me feel “normal” – the thing that is my own – like in that Arcade Fire song, “Well sir, it’s the first time I’ve felt like something is mine;
    Like I have something to give” – that’s it – like I have something to give.

  12. “So whenever you find yourself filled with doubt and you feel like giving up, remember what you have done to get to where you are, the many challenges you’ve overcome. Think about all your achievements. And remember you are a unique, remarkable individual. Write anyway.

    You can do it. You’re a writer.”

    Bryan, I am going to print out ten copies of this paragraph and paste them on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, all the doors and keep one in my purse.

  13. Bryan – once again, you have touched on a subject matter at the time I need it most. Thank you for your inspiration and for being a Postive Writer.

  14. Oh, I needed this so badly, Bryan–thank you. Some days I think there’s TOO much information out there on what writers should and shouldn’t do. It puts a lot of competing voices into your head telling you, “Don’t do this!” and “You should be doing this!” And all those contradictory voices make you start doubting yourself. That’s where I am at the moment. So something simple and straightforward and, most of all, inspiring like your post helps cut through my confusion. Thank you so much!

  15. Very encouraging post Bryan. You have a wonderful way of encouraging with your writing.
    I agree with you the important thing regardless what someone says is to keep on writing. Writing is wonderful therapy. Sometimes writing about how you feel can help you get past the doubts.
    The motivation which keeps me going is that I want to help others with the comfort and wisdom which has been given to me so they can advance as well.

  16. This is beautiful Bryan!

    I think The Pit comes to different people at varying degrees and some may not understand it, which only makes it more difficult.

    “Just start writing and keep at it,” is the mantra I use to keep me going. Thank you for the encouragement!

  17. Very inspiring words, Bryan. The Pit is a very ugly place to be and I’ve been there more times than I care to say so this post really hits home.

  18. Thanks so much for your comments. I’m grateful my post is having an impact. 🙂 We may write alone, but we are in this together.


  19. Thanks for sharing your story, Bryan. I think it’s something most writers can relate to.

    Whenever my doubts get really bad – a personal rejection letter, a bad review – I like to go back and read my positive reviews. If even one non-friend/family member likes my stories, it’s worth continuing to write. Even if it’s just for me and them.

  20. hi bryan, i haven’t finished your book yet and i had no idea you were dyslexic. thanks for the spoiler.

    i’ve been recently diagnosed with it and my life makes a little more sense now. like why i only read with one eye.

    i’m still in high school and i really do feel like giving up somedays. especially during december/ january were the pressure is really high . thank god that’s over.

  21. Hang in there, Mary. You’ll make it. Remember, one eye is better than no eyes 🙂

    Great idea, Ed. Keep your mind focused on the positive.


  22. Bryan thank you for your article, I was also a drop out thanks to the much “encouragement” from a counselor and my mom. But in my world of constant change there was one thing that never changed and that was my love / need to write. Most of it was not shown to others but writing was the one thing that stayed consistent, true and there when I needed it.

    Rob you arent the only one who years later still has the same writing issues, yet I’ve read countless articles and books on how to improve. However as long as we continue to put on foot in front of the other and one word in front of the other we will continue to grow.

    Never stop dreaming,,, Debi

  23. Bryan, depression seems to be part of the landscape in creative writing. I have a US friend who retired recently as a professor of Jacobean history. She knows her period and its language intimately. She wrote a wonderful historical novel that was utterly authentic to the times. And it was rejected by every agent she sent it to…

    Why? Readers don’t want ‘truth’, just entertainment, she was told. My friend became clinically depressed and never wrote another novel.

    Perhaps the best way to handle rejection is to welcome it as a learning experience. It took apprentices in the middle ages seven years to become a ‘master’. Why should creative writing be different?

    Problem is, it is. And rejection hurts!

  24. Thanks for sharing, Bryan. And for the reminder. My sister grew up dyslexic and now she’s a scientist. (a smartypants scientist who writes intricate publications about soil quality) Persistence and pulling up of bootstraps. Key. <3

  25. Oh, I feel like that so many times. It’s getting better the better I get though. Thank you for this post!!


  26. Thanks everyone. Sometimes it is good to know we are not alone on this journey. We are not alone. Keep writing.

  27. I appreciate your honesty….seems we all have struggles and roadblocks…..Thanks for the inspiration!


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