Insecure Writers Ahead


‘Morning all.

Roll up! Roll up! Insecure Writers gather round. Belly up to the space bar, sit down and do your thing, write. What? You can’t write? You’re feeling too insecure? Well, I have a secret and if you come really close, I will whisper it to you.

It turns out, shhh, nearly all writers are insecure. It’s true. Even Ian Rankin. He was on a programme on BBC1 last night and he didn’t look too sure of what he was about most of the time. Granted he had a broadcaster and a camera crew breathing down his neck whilst he was writing, which would give anybody the heebee-jeebies. Come and breathe down my neck when I’m in full flow and see what you get. So even six pages before the end of his first draft, the very experienced and revered Mr. Rankin was still pondering who might turn out to be the bad guy. This is true, I promise, Brownie’s Honour. If you’re in the UK you can check it out on iPlayer.

So if great and famous and published authors are insecure, what hope do we have? Well, what do  those great and famous and published authors do about it? They write. They get on and they write. They don’t wallow in the awfulness of ‘poor me’ and ‘look how sad’ and ‘what if it’s no good?’ and especially not ‘what if I never get published?’ They write. Every day, they sit at their desks and they get on with the job in hand. Because make no mistake about it, this is a job like any other. Writer’s block? Do builders get builder’s block or plumbers get plumber’s block? (No, that’s not why he doesn’t turn up when you ask him, it’s because he’s promised you and fourteen other people he’ll be there at three o’clock). And the only sort of butcher’s block you’ll find is the one where he chops up the meat. You can’t afford writer’s block. If that piece isn’t working then skip it and come back to it later.

Road ahead

Writing is a long road. A marathon, if you like, not a sprint. The first draft is a sprint. Sprint away and while you do that, stop worrying: it’s supposed to look awful. See, up there, even Ian Rankin fiddling with his first draft. So, you can sprint your way through November on NaNoWriMo or whatever; it’s only later you have to go back to the little beast and turn it into something readable. Don’t be fooled by your niggling little inner critic, telling you how rubbish you are. Everyone has one of those. Annoying little creatures who laugh at all your attempts to get the plot down. Mine is called Cruella and she is very, very cruel. I write while she watches, her head on one side and a smirk on her face, tearing to shreds my attempts to plot. Nasty sarcastic little gnome.

What does your inner critic look like? Got her? Good. Sit on her, shut her in a box inside your head. Tape it shut with gaffer and tie it tightly with a piece of pretty ribbon. She is not allowed out until after the first draft is complete and the muse has left, closing the door quietly behind her. Take a glass of Ribena or bubbly or whatever is your fancy and toast yourself. Tell yourself how brilliant you are. Then let Cruella out of her box to laugh at your feeble attempts. Laugh back. You did it. Hooray. And now you need Cruella, but only if her comments are constructive. Remember the marathon. These things take time to plough through. And sometimes it is a plough you need to pick up, one with a nice sharp blade that slices through the soil and muck leaving a clear furrow of truth and beauty. You may need to cross that muddy field several times before the road opens up clear and clean in front of you. That is your novel.

Will you be secure at the end? I doubt it. Insecure Writers get everywhere. Even into the best seller lists.

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26 responses to “Insecure Writers Ahead

  1. I don’t think I’m ever gunna feel “secure” in my writing *gulp* lol 😉


  2. Yes, I saw the Ian Rankin thing too – made me feel much better. My inner critic looks like Homer Simpson with his famous phrase “If at first you don’t succeed, it’s too hard; go and do something else.”

    • Yes, I was very heartened by Ian Rankin. Hate inner critics. They are vile things that stop you in your tracks if you’re not careful.
      Latest thing I read on Twitter this morning was to put the font colour onto white so you can’t see to edit. Thought I might try that if life got too yucky!

  3. Yes! Every writer is insecure – even the talented and famous!

    • Apparently so. The Ian Rankin thing was very heartening I though. Thank you for dropping by. Slip your shoes off and make yourself at home. Kettle’s on. 🙂

  4. True,true, all true. And I haven’t got to today’s stint yet. But I will… And I’ll watch Rankine on iPlayer too…. just for the fellow-feeling!

    • I thought it was a good programme, missed the very beginning so might have to do the iPlayer to catch that bit. And I did catch your FB comment on the election candidates. Will give you a ring about that when I get the chance.

  5. This is very inspirational, Pat! And, yes – you can out on me as an insecure buddy 😉

    • I think it is very common, but it was interesting that even Ian Rankin seemed a bit fish out of water. Mind you, it might have been the fact that several million viewers were watching him write the novel. Pretty incredible to let us in to watch the machinations. Glad you liked the post. Always appreciate your input. 🙂

  6. What a great post, Pat! Yes, we are all insecure writers out there. It is deeply unsettling to share your innermost creativity, making it subject to scrutiny, or even praise. It is natural for us to feel vulnerable…but, we should also feel proud because many will never have the courage to do what we do.

    • That’s why I think people should congratulate themselves when they get to the end of their great opus, because just finishing is a great feat which many don’t manage. The inner critic is determined to prevent that, trying to make you revise as you go and making the whole process twice as long and four times as painful. Thank you for the comment. Glad you liked the post.

  7. First of all, when you whisper like that it tickles my ear. Secondly, you have television shows that show someone writing???? I love writing but I’m afraid I’d fall asleep or at the very least change the channel. You Brits are a steadfast lot for sure. What’s all this talk about insecurity? Why would I be insecure? Does that mean you don’t like me? Or maybe you don’t like my writing? Or is my writing not good enough? 🙂 As usual you’ve written another very good and timely article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Calm down. All that ear tickling has sent you into a tizz. The programme was great. You’re great. Your writing is great. Shh. Soothing noises. Sit down put your feet up and I will put the kettle on. Have a cup of tea and a biscuit. Maybe a doughnut. I have some doughnuts around here somewhere. Now, no more insecurities. 🙂
      Glad you liked the post. Thank you for coming over. Have a cuppa 🙂

  8. My inner critic is an evil witch that constantly tells me to clean this and clean that. Perhaps I’m Cinderella. Lol

    It’s important to keep writing. Great post!

    • Thank you. Glad you liked the post. Those inner critics will do it every time. Clean this, clean that indeed. Do anything rather than what you want to be doing and when you do write, there’s the twisted grin, the evil sarcasm. Oh, yes, Cinderella, I feel your pain!.
      But inner critics have no power here. Have a cuppa and pull up a chair. Biscuits in the tin. Help yourself and ponder the plot you want to write! 🙂

  9. Love this post and all the imagery. “Plumber’s Block” is a hilarious concept – I may have to write a post it note about that and put it up by my pc. I am full into the muddy road, and trying to get to the clear path, but I’m not giving up! Thanks for this awesome encouragement today!

    • You are most welcome. I hope it helps. Nice to have you come by and comment. Thank you. Feel free to pull up a chair and flop. Inner Critics banned here. Have a cuppa and contemplate your novel in peace.

  10. That was really funny! Yeah, we’re all insecure no matter where we are in the journey. Goes with the territory I guess.
    Thanks for participating in the IWSG!

  11. I am on my third written novel, giving me three rough drafts that are in serious need of editing. What’s the hold up? My inner critic. Insecurity. The fact that once I get in there and change everything, I’m going to A) make it worse than it already is, and B) be forced to share my work with the world once (and if) I deem my work good enough to get out there – thus letting everyone else see what a horrible writer I am.

    The rough drafts are the easy part. It’s the editing and beyond I’m finding to be terribly daunting.

    • I absolutely loathe and detest editing. And revising too. I do them, because these days I do want to get my work out there, but I’m like you – I can draft stuff with no problem. Rattle the things off. The hard work afterwards is hard work though. And embarrassing putting it out there. And so far, no takers.
      Horrible, isn’t it? Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  12. Pingback: Insecure Writers Support Day – December | The View Outside

    • Thank you for the link back to me.
      Apologies for my lack of post yesterday. I was away – came back last night, but in view of the snow was back much later than I intended.
      Will take a look at the others who posted. Thanks again.

  13. Pingback: Mess Up the Page « The Write Inspiration

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