The Search for Inspiration and Facing the Demon of Self-Doubt

This post is my entry for the writing contest: You Deserve to be Inspired hosted by Positive Writer.

My journey with my inner critic began with the ringing of a bell. I remember how the piercing sound caused my heart to plunge.

It was time to line up outside the entrance of my school to begin the day.

The concrete scuffed below my dragging feet as I stepped in the fifth grade line – again.

“Fifth grader, fifth grader,” said a female voice.

I stared at the brick building in front of me, not daring to meet the other student’s gaze.

It’d been my first day back to school after summer vacation. Over the break I’d learned that I’d been diagnosed with a learning disability, and my teachers thought it would be best if I repeated the fifth grade.

Fifth grader, fifth grader. Ever since that day, I’ve heard that voice. A voice that shined a light on me, and I didn’t like that glare. So, I stepped into the darkness. There in that silence I heard:

You’re not good enough.

Don’t bother to dream.

You’ll always be that person trying to play catch up with everyone else, and avoiding eye contact with the world.

Those voices swirled together in my mind to form my demon of self-doubt. The darkness served as my armor.

In that silence, my imagination also ignited. There I used my creativity which allowed me to adjust to the darkness outside the light.

But something had been missing from my defense.

And I craved to fill that void.

Inspiration had been whispering my name as she danced around the edges of my mind. But, desperation tied knots around my creativity. I couldn’t reach out to catch that voice, which dissipated like fog in the rising sun.

For years I studied other authors, reading their blog posts online and watching them publish their work.

Then I signed up for a workshop where the members would self-publish their eBook in ten days.

Ten days? asked the demon. You’ll never finish.

Ugh. Afterwards, it occurred to me that those ten days coincided with a family vacation on Cape Cod. What were you thinking? I freaked out, than procrastinated.

I remember listening to the crashing of the waves as I sat on the beach. The wind whipped sand across my journal as I brainstormed to discover the subject of my eBook.

At home I often listened to the sound of the waves on a CD during my writing sessions.

The reality wasn’t as relaxing.

This environment was supposed to spark ideas. Where were they?

I huffed, aggravated that I’d placed the added pressure on myself by waiting until the last moment to write my eBook.

I stayed up all night long, focusing on hitting the deadline I’d given the editor. (Umm, when I’d been in college pulling an “all-nighter” had been easy. Now that I had been nearing 40 that October? Yeah. Not so easy).

My eyes had been dry, like I’d baked and shoved sand in them.

I’d decided to write about descriptions. I e-mailed the draft to the editor.

That sucks, said the demon. The writing, not the sand.

I’d met the deadline. I should’ve been happy.

But branches snagged me in the darkness, scraped away at my layers of self-confidence.

I received the edits and discovered I’d introduced concepts too fast. Plus, I had no conclusion. Ugh. The red font from the Track Changes in Word glared at me – and I glared right back. Instead of trying to revise it, I shelved the manuscript. I’m never going to fulfill my writing dreams.

I watched the other members publish their eBooks. My enthusiasm had become a kite, blowing away in the wind.

Four months later…

I really have to publish a book if I’m going to be an author, I thought as I glanced over my freewriting for the past few weeks.

This time though, I didn’t procrastinate.

Everything that I’d written had been about my battle with self-doubt. That’s it.

So, I continued, feeling that this time, I’d fortified my defense against my inner demon. I’d been open about my insecurities and my learning difficulties.

This was going to work out.

It seemed something had begun to fill that void.

On March 23, 2017, I uploaded my first eBook, Vanquish the Demon of Self-Doubt: Give your Writing Wings to Amazon.

What did I learn from this experience?

  1. I learned that when you step into the darkness, you’re cutting off your own light flowing into the world. And you’re never going to fulfill your dreams that way.
  2. I learned that if you’re honest and brave, writing can help heal your inner battles.
  3. I learned that you find your inspiration when you discover your confidence. And your inner light becomes stronger than the demon of self-doubt, allowing your writing to shine bright for the world.

When I look at my eBook sitting on Amazon’s digital shelf, fulfillment shimmers through me. I don’t hear those voices telling me that my work is crap, that my words don’t matter.


I hear:

Wow, look at that story. I hope it helps other writers improve their mindset because they’ll know they’re not alone in their struggles.

Wow, I hope my words inspire other writers to share their work with the world.

When you defeat those negative voices, you’re clearing the way for the light of your words. And that’s what had been missing when I retreated into the darkness. I may have avoided the glare, but I doused my own light of self-confidence.

Without that light, my writing voice fell into the abyss of shadows.

And it’s too cold down there for you – and your writing – to thrive.

Through inspiration, creativity and hard work, it is my goal to keep my light of self-confidence burning bright.

What have you learned in the battle with your demon? Share in the comments.

4 thoughts on “The Search for Inspiration and Facing the Demon of Self-Doubt

  1. KatieMae says:

    I loved this post. Our inner critic can be a powerful force but one we can use as an ally. I have a friend who has even given her inner critic a name and when it gets out of hand she calls her out on her shenanigans.

    I, too, recently wrote a post on my inner critic ( By acknowledging it, I am able to use my inner critic as ally instead of a stumbling block.

    Thank you sharing!

    Thanks for sharing! Keep up the great work.

    • Callie Brady says:

      Thank you for your comment! I loved your post about your inner critic as well! As much as I hate to admit it, I too have noticed that my inner critic can be my ally and not a stumbling block. I also checked out your website, you have so many great posts! I look forward to reading more from you!

  2. Magie Stuart says:

    You definitely explain this well–in terms people can understand–rather than the medical/educational jargon that often is used. I find your writing inspirational and a lot due to this skill.

    Know that you are speaking for a LOT of our population. Our schools are designed from the agricultural times when those who were linguistic and mathematical succeeded and the rest left to “dig ditches” (farm?) for a living…back when one could support their family by doing so.

    No longer is that available fpr lagging students. Some misguided, somewhere in the past, educational leaders did not change the method of learning much; but expected our teachers to take all styles of learning and bring each child up to the standard to the linguistic and mathematical learner.

    I recommend the book “Emotional Intelligence” (Goldman?) to all parents, by the way. Also, articles and books about learning styles can open your eyes to individual learning. I find Marilee Sprenger’s work to be very readable and comprehensive.

    Somewhere in every child’s life, we should be accommodating and validating each child’s dominant learning style so he/she feels he can succeed.

  3. Callie Brady says:

    Thank you for your comment Magie! I’m so glad I inspired you. I’m afraid the children in today’s schools struggle even more than I did because of all the additional tests that they have to take. At the same time, school officials understand more about documented disabilities, but somehow they need to find a better balance to serve the different learning styles. I’ll definitely check out that book!

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