The Self-Doubt That Comes With Writing Reviews

© The Day Dreamer and Candy Eater
© The Day Dreamer and Candy Eater

Dreaming Novel Things is a feature in which I discuss book related subjects, but in a creative way. I’ll use interviews, narratives and lists to talk about book trends, book opinions and bookish matters. If you have any book related subjects you’d like to see me discuss just leave me a comment below!

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How it Starts

You’ve just finished a book, one that failed to impress you so you gather your reading notes and sit down to write your review. Or in my case, jot a few sentences down then toss the book aside to write a review weeks later. Either way, the time to write a review has come and you’re ready to share your opinion. In your eyes this book failed big time and as you sit there calculating your rating (in my case, also munching on some candy) your phone buzzes. A blogger friend just tweeted how much they enjoyed their latest read, which just so happens to be your latest read as well, the very read that you’re about to publish a bad review on. Your friend’s tweet unsettles you a bit, but you shrug it off, friends didn’t fight over books… right?

You shake that thought away and proceed with your review. You’ve just about finished (and are very pleased with the way you incorporated some dry wit) when your phone buzzes again. This time its an email. Another blogging buddy just posted their own review on the same book. You read it eagerly and even though it’s filled with adorable bunny GIFs your stomach fills with dread. This person loved the book, not just liked the book, loved! Panic starts to set in, you check twitter and you can’t find one tweet that agrees with your opinion on this book. Darn twitter, you shout (in your head) and darn this book.

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My low rating on the popular book, Divergent

It Takes Over

So now of course, the self-doubt takes over. You read the back cover of the dreadful book as if you can find something you missed. Was the book suppose to be ironic? Or were you just plain not smart enough to get it? Gulp.

Even if you are sure of your convictions, you still experience self-doubt over how your blogging buddies will take it. What if this sparks one of those blogging wars you always read about? The ones where each side writes posts addressed anonymously like “Dear Hater” but everyone knows who they are talking about because of the things said over twitter. You always loved watching those play out but you didn’t think you had it in you to actually fight in one.

Or even worse, you get cold shouldered out of the blogging community. There’s no rude remarks about your review because no one makes a remark at all. You try to converse through twitter but all you get is one worded replies and deep down you know everyone is private messaging about your review and how you obviously didn’t get the book.

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My low rating on the popular book, Siege and Storm

All of this plays out in your head as your mouse hovers over the publish button. You can’t kick the self-doubt out of your head and the more you think about it the more unsure you get. All of this you feel because deep down the worst fear of a blogger  is their writing being called dumb or making another feel belittled for their opinion. I personally don’t want anyone to feel that I think less of them because of the opinion they hold. My review on a book is not an attack on someone else, it’s just an opinion.

Don’t Let it Win

We all have different tastes. I love pineapple but hate peaches. My sister Miranda loves peaches but hates pineapple. So when my mom comes home with the groceries I eat the pineapple and she eats the peaches. Though we both wonder at the other, both fruits get devoured.

So as you sit there, mouse hovering over the publish button, remember this: because we are all different, we like different things. No one is going to come with pitchforks and torches because you published a negative review. We’ll just wonder at the other and devour our preferred taste in books. Shake off that self-doubt. Click the publish button.

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Do you ever experience self-doubt when writing reviews? How do you combat it? Share below and happy reading!

Posted August 7, 2014 by Lindsey in Uncategorized / 17 Comments

17 responses to “The Self-Doubt That Comes With Writing Reviews

  1. Lindsey,
    I loved this post because you hit the nail on the head. Pushing ‘publish’ is sometimes very hard, even when you really loved the book. Will the author like your review? Did you miss the author’s point? What if you loved it and everyone else hated it? Does that mean your reviews aren’t reliable? So many questions. My favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate chip. Does that mean I expect everyone else to love chocolate chip just because I do? Of course not. I can’t stand watching baseball? Does that mean I think no one else should enjoy it? Of course not. So why do we worry about expressing our likes and dislikes on our reviews? I would imagine authors go through the same double guessing when they put themselves out there with their books. So now hit that button and publish.

    • Literally all of those things go through my head when I didn’t like a book that others did. It’s hard to voice your opinion when you feel alone, but I’d rather be alone than lie about my feelings. After all, I didn’t start a blog to not tell my opinions on books, right? Thanks for taking the time to read Michelle! 🙂

  2. I feel this way all the time! It’s such a bad mindset to get into, but sometimes I just can’t help it. Reading other people’s reviews can be really intimidating, especially if they are about the same book. This post is a great reminder for me to just snap out of it and write! 🙂

    • Exactly! I have to say I’m getting better at fighting it off, I’m more confident in my opinion and in my blogging buddies! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Holly!

  3. The only time I really have self-doubt about my reviews is when it’s a classic and I didn’t like it. When it’s been praised for decades as amazing and you don’t like it you kind of feels like you’ve missed something or interpreted it wrong. Having said that, I did feel super nervous about publishing my critical review of The Fault in Our Stars. I was worried that all the fangirls would come after me, but I was suprised in the comments by how many people agreed with what I had to say and were understanding about it.
    Apart from that though, I’ve never had a big problem with it, I’m one of those people that once I’ve got an opinion on something won’t be swayed, bullied or pressured into doing something else! I’ll happily listen and take on board alternative views from others (and perhaps learn from them) but at the end of the day, I’m entitled to my own opinion. It doesn’t have to be right, but it will be mine. 🙂

    Sidenote: I do however, constantly have self doubt about whether my reviews are good or boring every time I hit publish. 😛

    • And that’s why I admire you so Becky! You’re not afraid to be completely honest about a book, I strive to follow your example but every once in a while the self doubt kicks in. I’m getting better at fighting it off though.

      Sidenote: Your reviews are always good and never boring. 🙂

  4. Such a cute post! And YAY you have a sister named Miranda?! 😀 There are so few of us.

    I like the way you wrote this kind of in stream-of-consciousness. I’ve definitely had some of these thoughts before! And it’s the WORST when it’s a book that somebody has actually specifically recommended to you. I always feel like I’m going to hurt that person’s feelings by not liking it! 🙁 But I try not to let myself feel too bad about it, because ultimately it doesn’t really matter…my feelings about a book are my feelings, your feelings are your feelings. Just because we don’t like the same book doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends! And both opinions are equally valid!

    • I do have a sister named Miranda and she is quite the feisty one, let me tell you! 😉

      Thanks Miranda! I started this post a while back when I had major self-doubt going on and have added on to it little by little. It’s so easy to feel alone and weird for not liking what’s popular, but we just have to remember that our opinions make us who we are! I would never want any of my blogging buddies to change to fit my mold just as I know my blogging buddies wouldn’t want me to change to fit theirs! Thanks for taking the time to read! 🙂

  5. Yes we all have different interests and enjoy different things. I may absolutely love something the next person thinks is a waste of time. And both our reviews are valid and should be shared 🙂

  6. You’re not alone. For instance, I rated Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me with 2.5 stars, and I hadn’t seen a single negative review back when I published it. I debated with myself whether I should just let it slip and keep my opinion to myself, but, you know what – I believe that, often, negative reviews can be way more informative than positive ones.
    As long as a review doesn’t solely consist of ‘I hated it because it’s stupid, duh’, but the reviewer actually explains why he feels a certain way about a book, that’s fine. I don’t have to agree with a negative review, and I can still buy the book because of that review when I think the blogger’s criticism points don’t apply to my reading preferences. I’ll never understand why anyone would want to bash bloggers for their opinion – we’re all friendly here, right?

    Something else I experience, especially when trying to write reviews for more literate books outside the YA age group, is that I think I wouldn’t have anything meaningful to say about them. Sadly, there seem to be a lot of snobby readers who praise their own reading taste to the skies, and as soon as anyone expresses their opinion about one of their beloved books in a less eloquent way than they would, they’ll somehow feel personally offended.

    • You’re so right on that matter, negative reviews are often more informative than positive ones. And after all, we started blogging about books to share our opinions, not to skirt around them! Sadly there are those that are a bit snobby and proud of their books and would attack at the slightest provocation. But I think for everyone one of those people there’s two reasonable bloggers who respect opinions versus bowing down to the majority. Thanks for stopping by and sharing, you brought up some interesting points!

  7. I HATE writing bad reviews. With a passion. Nice portrayal. For me, it’s more of a struggle to write my review and just be objectively critical—I don’t want to be THAT PERSON who writes a post filled with complaints about things that don’t necessarily need to be complained about. I just finished writing a review for 1.5/5 stars, in fact, for a blog tour—this is a new author who’s trying to get her name out there, and I feel AWFUL rating it so low, but I just can’t justify a higher rating (especially if I compare it to some of the books I’ve previously given 2 whole stars!). Knowing that the author is highly likely to actually read my review makes the pressure that much higher…

    • I totally understand the pressure! And people are more than welcome to run their blogs the way they want too, as long as you are doing it the way you want too! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  8. I’ve been blogging for a long time and I’m pretty confident in my knowledge and opinions of YA lit. So when I didn’t love Shatter Me or when The Program drove me crazy, I didn’t hesitate to express my opinion. I like standing out a bit from the crowd and having a review with a dissenting opinion.

    However, I have a strange following of book bloggers AND old lady English teachers, librarians, etc. And I will say that I think about those old lady English teachers a lot when I push the publish button on a review for a more classic or literary title. Sometimes they really question if I “got” or understood a book when I give it a low rating. A good example would be pretentious literary fiction — I genuinely understand pretentious literary fiction, but I genuinely (sometimes) find it insufferable. But because I read so much YA, the old ladies question my feelings and can get a little mean/rude about it. So I think we all face the self-doubt in one way or another!

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