Clear all

How to know when it is self doubt versus a bad idea?

New Member
Posts: 1

You know when you have an idea for a story, you're churning out words at a decent clip, then you wonder if the idea is stupid?

When is it a bad idea and when is it self doubt?

Topic starter Posted : October 7, 2020 5:56 pm
Dustin Adams
Gold Member
Posts: 997

Howdy Fagan,

It's never a bad idea. Never ever. Your muse is your muse and writing new words is always good.

Ultimately an audience may disagree, but you gotta write what you gotta write.

If you're asking when to cut bait and start something new, only you can answer that (self-doubt is a fickle as a critic. You are, after all, the first critic). I've started plenty of stories and abandoned them (500 words, 1000 words, 4000 words in) because either I stopped liking them, or I didn't like where they were going, or I thought the audience reaction would be less than positive.

If you come to that conclusion: Chalk it up as experience, put it in the rear view, then click File, New, Blank Document.

2x Finalist
2x Semi
6x Silver
9x HM
1 of 6 SilverHM. 1 of 3 DSF: Short Stories. My Finalist #1 Finalist #2 coming soon in 4th & Starlight

Posted : October 7, 2020 10:36 pm
iti liked
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

I agree with Dustin. I’ve read a lot of stories and I’ve almost never run into an idea that was bad. Execution, sure, but usually the concept had something unique about it, something interesting. As for whether our execution is working, it’s so hard to know. I tend to finish all my stories, regardless of how I feel about them, but some get trunked almost immediately. Finishing is good practice though!

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.

Posted : October 7, 2020 11:36 pm
iti liked
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 216

There are some times that I start writing a story, but I realized that the idea isn't a story, exactly, and that I'm not interested enough to develop it. I'm not that good with finishing my stories, honestly; there are lots of times where I just move over to a different idea that I'm more into. But my advice is: if you doubt the idea because of what your readers will think, then just forget about them. Self-doubt will always be self-doubt. But if you doubt an idea because you don't like it enough, then trunk it, but keep it in mind to meld into some other story idea that you may have.

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm ~ Winston Churchill
V37: R, R, R, HM
V38: SHM

Posted : October 8, 2020 7:27 am
iti liked
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 118

You know when you have an idea for a story, you're churning out words at a decent clip, then you wonder if the idea is stupid?

When is it a bad idea and when is it self doubt?

This is what I have to say about ideas: perhaps there is such a thing as a bad idea. But, every single bad idea can be made into a good idea. Sometime it takes a little work. Say you have an idea about a unicorn who wants to be a cat. It's funny, but not a lot of people are going to be interested in that (except maybe little kids). So you make it into a good idea as best you can - let's say the unicorn was bullied because his horn was crooked, and he had a friend bear who was turned into a cat by a sorcerer, and now this friend lives with a family and the kids pet her all the time and she catches barn mice. The unicorn can't go near humans for fear they will hunt him. His own kind are mean to him. The only friend he has is a cat, and it is his wish to see inside a human home and be loved by children. Now, maybe he gets turned into a cat, maybe he doesn't. Maybe the children befriend him as he is.
The point is, I changed the idea around. I could scrap all that make him want to turn into a cat because unicorns are hunted and cats have magic powers and can talk. That is not a popular idea among editors, so maybe not. Maybe he wants to be a big cat, a panther. Maybe he wants to be a housecat so he can sneak into the humans' houses and get revenge on his other unicorn buddies.
Most of these still sound like kids stories because of the original idea, but the point is that you can change a story around until it is a good idea. What matters is what you do with the idea, and I think as long as the character's motivation is strong enough, why they want what they want, then no idea is bad. And you can easily fix that by making a list of why's that a character could have and picking your favorite.

For me the most important part of an idea is whether I want to write it or not. What does the story say, and how much do I want to say that?

And as for self-doubt, I don't listen to that. I chuck it out the window. It's not me. I know that because if I wanted to, I could doubt every single thing I've ever done and every word I've written. But I've done some great things and written some cool words. Therefore, my self-doubt is wrong.
As a note, this isn't coming from someone who doesn't struggle with self-doubt. I have serious self-doubt sometimes, and I just have to tell myself over and over that I'm not all that. Then I have to make sure I act on what I tell myself.
Sorry if this post is getting a little long. Hope it helps. (Aaand there was my self doubt kicking in, but I'm posting this anyway.)

Posted : October 8, 2020 11:00 am
iti liked
Rey Nichols
Bronze Member
Posts: 56

Agreeing with all these guys. I've never written a bad idea. Usually the ideas I come up with are ones I like to write about.
Now, where I have messed up before is the execution, but luckily I have a writing group that is not afraid to tell me straight up that something needs to be fixed in HOW the story is told, not what it was about.

Case in point. A story I recently wrote has a solid idea and premise that I love. The FIRST time I wrote it, general consensus was a great idea, but the way I wrote it didn't worth for the idea/message I was trying to convey. So I shelved it, and came back to it last month. I kept the setting, but switched the POV to one speaker versus multiple, and added the CORRECT hooks to keep the reader going, and it made the rounds again, and was well-received.

Screw self-doubt. Ask yourself instead:
How much do you love the idea? Do you love it enough to make the changes if the feedback you receive is not what you expected. At the end of the day, it is your story, your idea. Just write it, and see what happens.

If you hit a brick wall where you love the idea, but the words aren't flowing, don't be afraid to shelve it in your story tank for a while, and start something new. Sometimes time apart from a story is all you need to get the words to work correctly.

HM: 5
R: 1

Posted : October 11, 2020 1:45 pm
Active Member
Posts: 6

I have 4 kids, and they would LOVE to read the story about the unicorn with the cat-turned-bear-friend. (me too 😀 )

and thanks for the wisdom.

Posted : April 4, 2021 5:48 am
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 131

Wow did this question make me stop and think! Getting all introspective here today. Who knew? lol

I'll be the first to admit I get these giant explosions of good ideas that light up the sky and make me feel all tingly inside.
BOOM! CRACKLE! "Oooooh! Aaaaah!"

Then I start writing it out and, inevitably, the gremlins come whispering in my ear, "Dude this sucks. YOU suck. This is a dumb idea. No one's gonna like it. You can't even write. Just LOOK at this mess."

The source of that problem, at least for me, usually comes from not planning the story out enough before I begin writing. I write and write and write and then...hit a brick wall, some story corner I've backed myself into with no clue how to get out. Can't see what happens next. All I see are problems ahead, and then I start thinking, "Okay maybe this wasn't such a great story after all. It's getting too hard. This is starting to feel like, crap man, actual WORK!" And that opens the door to all kinds of self-doubt and rassling with them gremlins.

It got better for me when I started planning things out more. I also embraced the fact that writing good stories actually is (crap, man) real work. It ain't easy at all, this thing we all do. I just have to keep pushing through. Keep writing. If it's not exciting, then it's my job to make it exciting. I also promised myself I'll finish whatever I start. If I type The End and I still truly hate it and can't find a way to make it awesome, then I'll pitch it and move on to something else. But finish, you must. Pretty sure Yoda said that at some point.

Thanks for the daily dose of gazing into the abyss that is my belly button. Oh look, dryer lint!

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at

Posted : August 31, 2021 8:25 am