j. leigh bailey

...because everyone deserves a happy ending


Self-Doubt, Contests, & Validation

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on May 17, 2017 at 12:50 AM

Call it insecurity or imposter syndrome, whatever, but sometimes it’s a huge part of an author’s psyche. We create something that we think is brilliant one minute, and the next minute we’re sure it’s the tritest piece of cliché-filled junk ever to be written. And even when we get a little validation (book deal! 5-star review! etc.) we think it’s a fluke or that someone made a mistake. Because, of course, for every 5-star review, there’s a 2-star review. For everyone who says the book is genius, there’s someone who thinks it’s been done a million times. We read a book that is so brilliant, we are tempted to sit in the corner sucking our thumbs because we will never, ever, ever be able to create a book so amazing, so why bother wasting our time. Then we read a book—an award-winning, best-selling book—and want to tear our hair out because we don’t understand WHY… why that book that had X problems or broke Y rules made it when our book, which does not have X problems or break Y rules, floats in obscurity.


We are especially prone to this need for validation when we’re a little newer to the game. 


It’s easy to get discouraged sometimes.


The last few weeks have gone a long way to alleviate some my self-doubt. Oh, it’s still there, lurking in my subconscious, but a little less front-of-mind.


I entered GUYLINER in a handful of RWA contests for published books and it is a finalist in all three of them:

* WisRWA Write Touch contest for Young Adult
*  Desert Rose Golden Quill contest for Young Adult
* YARWA Athena contest for Young Adult Contemporary


Yes, GUYLINER is a finalist in ALL THREE! I’m giddy.


I wish I were the type of person who didn’t need anyone else’s opinion to justify or validate what I write. Yes, I would write anyway—it’s part of who I am. But when sales are relatively low, or someone posts a bad review (yes, I KNOW I need to stay off of Goodreads…I know), it’s hard to maintain the discipline and focus to keep working. But then there are these moments that remind me that my words and my characters are not a waste of space, and it keeps me trudging along. It doesn’t matter if don’t “win” these contests…just being selected from a larger pool of entries, is validation enough.


Please note: I DO NOT THINK you have to be a contest finalist/winner or best-seller or get the world’s largest book deal to be considered a success, or to feel like what you are doing is worthwhile. My need for reassurance and validation is a weakness on my part, and in no way should color anyone’s perception of their own career.





Categories: All About Me!

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Reply Mike
2:15 PM on June 16, 2017 
I loved the book. I hope there is more to come with these guys.
Reply Gorge
6:32 AM on March 29, 2018 
Writing is a great profession and it need the dedication from us. The topic of this post is very interesting which is about self-doubt, contests, & validation. You have shared your journey of writing profession here with us and it will be very inspiring for us.
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