Open letter to the doubting writer

I wrote this email to a client last month and they said it had to be shared, so here is an edited version of that note. I hope it encourages you as it did them.


60 Once upon a time on typewriter - bigstock_story_2226743_2 from Tamika Christy

Image source: Tamika Christy


Dear doubting writer,

No worries, don’t stress. Panic is a normal part of the writing (and a vital part of the editing) process; no doubt you know that already.

I wouldn’t have quoted on your book if I didn’t see in it the potential to be a truly worthy book. I’m not saying the book is perfect; that’s why editing is a good idea. But you’ve already got my vote of confidence.

There’s no one with a gun to your head to get this book out ASAP. No matter when it arrives, people will be thrilled ecstatically to read it.

But you know what, even if you look at your book and think “eh, it’s still not perfect”, I was reading another book today and came across this quote:

“the woods would be very silent
if no birds sang there
except those that sang best”
– Henry van Dyke

If you need more reassurance before paying for editing, I recommend beta readers. I don’t know if appraisals are worth the effort, honestly – they cost nearly as much as editing. But beta readers, trusted readers who you know will give you an impartial opinion on your work, are worth their weight in gold, and they’re free. Ask some of your most trusted fellow bloggers if you like – after all, they aren’t part of your daily life so they’re not biased like family or close friends would be. There’s no harm asking them to give you their impression of it. Ask for them to give you overall pointers of “I liked this, I didn’t like that.” rather than their proofread (which many people are tempted to do.)

Think about it, pray about it, but don’t let fear fester. There is no point letting fear control your creative desires. If you want to know more about that there’s a great book I love called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (not The Art of War 😉 ) where he talks about killing the fear that blocks your creative drive from expressing itself.

Also, check out this awesome video where Ira Glass speaks to the emerging writer about how to judge their own work: with compassion. He says that if you are a creative person then you must have good taste, but there is a gap between your good taste and your experience, your ability to create that good taste for yourself. For the first few years of creating, everything you create is just not that good, and if you have good taste you know it’s not that good. It’s discouraging. But it doesn’t have to be.

He says the solution is to keep on creating – create a volume of work – so that you can close the gap between your expectation and your skill. You can do it. Just keep writing.




TJ Withers-Ryan, BFA, LLB

Freelance Editor, Proofreader, and Copywriter



Ph: 0448 344 474



This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan, © 2015. Reblogging is always highly encouraged, as long as you cite me as the author.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s