The Insecure Writer

Are you an insecure writer?

Join the club. I think it goes with the territory of writing and I think there are three very good reasons why.

  1. You read books – you know what they’re supposed to look like. You’ve just scrawled your masterpiece and the mess you just created doesn’t resemble any book you’ve ever read.
  2. You get stuck when you’re writing. Blocked. The story just isn’t going anywhere. You believe you’re a failure.
  3. You read what you wrote this morning and this evening, your head tells you it is rubbish.

All that sound familiar? So what can you do about it?

To take the last one first, that’s your Inner Critic talking. And she is great. She is the voice that keeps you wanting to make everything perfect. Better than perfect. And if you aspire to be a good writer, then you need her to be critical. But not yet. When you are writing, she is a nuisance and you need to turn her off. Especially when you are writing that first draft. Keep her and everyone else away and let your creative juices flow, let the muse work, whatever other metaphor you like, but just write. Worry about what it looks like later.

And so you get stuck at times. Writer’s block. You’ve heard of it, lots of people get it, so now you know what it feels like. It isn’t the end of the world. Write something else, edit something, write some nonsense poetry or go for a long walk and tell yourself it will be better tomorrow. Give yourself a well-earned break.

So the books, those beautiful published, bound books adorning your bedside table that you desire to emulate. Do you know how many drafts it took to get to that stage? No, nor do I, but you can bet your favourite pen that they didn’t land on the editor’s desk after their first draft, whispering ‘publish me’. They were written and re-written, revised, edited and changed more often than the British weather.

Be critical at the end, when you have a finished product. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Give yourself the space and the time to write. And just acknowledge that as an insecure writer, you belong to a very special club.


26 responses to “The Insecure Writer

  1. very well put

  2. Just popping in from the IWSG 🙂

    Great post honey, and I agree wholeheartedly. So many writers lose faith in themselves because of comparing their work to published books. I do it myself on a regular basis lol


  3. Perfect! Must reread this from time to time. Happy writing!!

  4. I am so grateful I write for my own pleasure and healing. I do not care about peoples opinions of whether my grammar is good or bad or whether I articulated something accurately or not – I write to heal myself. Nice post.

  5. Very, very good advice and as Darlene said, needs to be re-read every time those doubts threaten. There is such a fine line between self-doubt and the Inner Voice’s quest for getting it right! Thanks for a timely reminder 🙂

  6. Sometimes I need to remember exactly this, and thanks for putting it so beautifully. In fact, just yesterday, after I had a most excellent revising session, and finally feel I’m beginning to understand things like conflict and resolution and all that other fun stuff, the Inner Critic comes in and says, “Took you long enough.”
    Now, is that necessary?! 😉
    We have a lot of fun, the Inner Critic and I … but we manage to get it done somehow.

  7. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so it’s difficult to turn off that urge when I write the first draft. That’s probably why I enjoy revisions. Time to make it better!
    Thanks for joining the IWSG.

  8. Such good advice. I’m always struck by how many writers are insecure, but it makes me feel I’m in good company.

  9. Funny…? Ironic? Just plain scary?….Was thinking (myself to myself) about that very thing today, Pat…insecurity in writing…and how it would help to be scored similar to Dancing With the Stars…paddles with numbers on them that could be held up…and must maybe…an audience to applaud when we’ve hammered out a good piece. Maybe not…..

    • What a terrible thought – I write and re-write and revise and then when I’ve edited, I reckon it’s OK. Then I go to bed and when I wake up next morning, it reads like rubbish.

  10. Thank you.

    Sometimes I hold a book in my hands and with my eyes closed I try to imagine the author pounding away at that first draft. I try to imagine him or her as flustered and insecure as I am. Then I open my eyes and see their book in my hands. They did it. Why not me?

  11. That inner insecurity monster can be a real beast.

    Great IWSG post!

  12. Great advice Pat! A great reminder that published authors didn’t just wake up one day and write a fabulous story from start to finish. A lot of rewrites and edits took place as well.

    • Yes, I think we forget that. We expect to have the finished article in a few hours. Instant gratification and all that, but the reality is it just takes graft and a lot of it.

  13. I think that is why so many newbie writers fail – they are not in this for the long haul.
    It takes time, patience, determination and nerves of bloody steel to revise, revise, revise and…um…revise until you are so sick of revising you could just chuck it all in the bin.
    And then, when someone launches a book entitled ‘How to make your novel even better’, you are compelled to revise it again.
    But as Shawn said – if they did it, why not me?

    • Um. Feeling a bit dejected today as you will probably gather if you stick around my blog much. But yes, I know where you are coming from.
      Been out to lunch and am feeling better now. Hic. :-))

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