Setting Self Doubt on Fire: When Your Health Gets in the Way of Your Writing

It’s been a long time since my last post—a lot longer than I had planned, but I’ve been struggling lately, which has stopped me from getting much done. And it was while thinking about all of this that I realised I should share my story because I’m sure I’m not the only one struggling like this, and I have some helpful tips that I’ve discovered which are slowly helping me. So, this is what I’m going to share with you all today.


But first, I want to share why I’m struggling. I’ll keep it brief, but you can read my blog post if you want to know more. I have cavernomas on my brain, and during March 2019, one of those cavernomas bled. This bleed caused me to have numbness on the left side of my body, vertigo, chronic fatigue, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, balance problems and neuropathic pain. 

Thankfully, the vertigo eased, but the rest of my symptoms remained, including the neuropathic pain, which is my main issue—it has affected my mobility and caused me to be virtually housebound. And all of this has had a negative impact on my writing.

When I became ill, I wasn’t able to write at all, and that terrified me. I’ve never been able to shake off the fear that one day this condition will stop me from writing. So, as soon as I could write again, I piled on so many goals onto myself, which just left me stressed and anxious.

I’m also having to get used to my brain working differently. I take longer to write, I’m so easily overwhelmed, and I struggle to focus, but I still fear the consequence of another bleed, so I end up becoming angry and frustrated with myself for being so slow and wasting time. But all this does is drop my mood and motivation down even further. It’s a vicious cycle. Seriously, I would never speak to someone, especially someone dealing with ill health and chronic pain, the way I speak to myself.

I have now, however, been taking steps to break the cycle. Instead of expecting myself to be the Nicole I used to be, I’m trying to accept and be kind to the Nicole I am. So, I may not be able to do as much as I could before, but I’m still taking steps towards my dream. They just happen to be tiny steps instead of giant leaps. Progress is progress, as Sara Lubratt (the authortuber) says.

Okay, that’s enough about me. Let’s get into these tips. 

  1. Be kind to yourself—we need to talk to ourselves the way we would speak to someone else in the same situation, instead of acting like our own drill sergeant who expects us to work harder and faster.
  2. Be patient with yourself—remember, you’re a human being, not a robot, and the world won’t end if you need to take longer to do something. 
  3. Write what you’ve achieved each day—you may not believe you’ve done much, but you’ll be surprised when you write it all down. However, be careful about what you focus on.


In my journal, I used to have a section where I reviewed my day. However, what I would write under this section was all negative. I only focused on what I didn’t do and how disappointed I was with myself. I was beating myself up with my journal, so I changed the section to ‘what have I achieved today?’ And this has a better effect on me mentally—I’m often surprised by how much I have done.

  1. Breaks tasks down into smaller tasks to stop you from feeling overwhelmed—I struggle with this one, but I’m getting better. 
  2. Practice self-care and take breaks—you may fear you’ll get nothing done if you’re not working all the time, but trust me, either you choose to take a break, or life will force one onto you. It’s better to choose. 
  3. Tell Mr Self-Doubt to suck it because you will do this; it’s just going to take time. 
  4. Speak to someone (a professional, family, friends, support group etc.,) about how you’re feeling. It helps.

If you too are struggling with ill health and/or chronic pain, comment below or get in touch with me (I’m on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), especially if you find my tips helpful or if you have any tips of your own—the more help the merrier.

Don’t forget, if you struggle with self-doubt, and you want to be part of a group where writers can share their fears, motivate each other and offer support, then join my ‘Setting Self-Doubt on Fire Squad’ group. 

Okay, that’s all I have for you today. Stay safe, everyone. And I’ll speak to you again soon.


‘Be patient with yourself; trust in the Universe; find mentors; know that you can achieve whatever you set out to do.’ Diane L. Dunton



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4 Responses

  1. JL Peridot says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips. I’m sorry you went through all that and hope you’re feeling better at the moment. Creative self-pressure can be so dastardly. Progress, big or small, is definitely still progress!

  2. Nicole says:

    Hi, I hope you find them useful. I’m getting there and slowly adapting to how life is now. Yes, moving forward is what is important and not the speed.

  3. mpiskun says:

    Good advice, thanks for sharing. Being in too much physical pain to write effectively is a real thing, as is mental exhaustion. I can appreciate keeping a goal in mind, while not beating yourself up for not being able to produce on your regular level. One day and one task at a time helps to keep it going.

  4. Nicole says:

    Thank you for your comment. I’m glad people are finding the advice useful.