How I overcome self-doubt when writing

Tiani Travels
3 min readMay 22, 2022
a close up of a pink hibiscus flower

The best advice I’ve been given was by my Papa.

Early in 2021, I was writing a report on microplastics for the Jersey Government Environment Department. I was getting paid a lump sum to produce this piece of writing. Fresh out of university, off the back of my dissertation, I landed this job. I was thrilled!

After 3 years of studying to become a marine biologist and spending countless hours examining hundreds of microplastics under a microscope for my final project, doubt came creeping in when it came time to write this report.

Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic to land this job! Freelance academic writing from the comfort of my home? Sure! Write about a topic I knew inside-out? Easy! How wrong I was…

I started out strong, researching, note-taking and planning my report. I knew it had to be perfect, if not for anyone else, for me.

Days passed and my motivation to research and write began to dwindle. At this point, I also had a job working in a gym full-time, but luckily we were furloughed for 3 months because of the dreaded C word. This gave me time, too much time in fact.

I would do anything I could to procrastinate actually writing the report. I’d go for walks around the cliff paths, drive to the shop each day to pick up something for dinner, and binge-watch reality TV shows to avoid the one thing I was supposed to be doing.

At this point, I simply didn’t believe in myself. I used any excuse I could find not to sit down with my laptop and write another sentence.

With all this time off sitting by myself in my flat, I got a bit lonely during the days while my boyfriend Brett was working. I would drive 20 minutes to visit my grandparents every other day. I have a super close relationship with them and spent a lot of my childhood at their house.

I clearly remember sitting at their dining room table with my head in my hands, reading and re-reading the words on the page, trying to decide if my work was good enough. I’d never had so much freedom with academic writing. At university I’d always had a brief to follow, a structure with certain requirements.

This time it was different, everything in the report was my choice and I took that…