Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Okay, I don’t normally post three times in twenty-four hours, but it just so happened three blog fests fell on the same day for me. I’m sweating bullets trying to keep up with the blog-o-sphere today!

But anyways, I’ve decided to join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group because, let’s face it, aren’t we all? This group is put together by Alex J. Cavanaugh so that we poor, unconfident and self-doubting writers can share with and support one another. Today, the first Wednesday of the month (and thus the reason for my final post today), I am supposed to share some of my writing insecurities – of which there are legions.

I thought I’d start by talking about something I love. I LOVE to read. I’d read all day every day if people would let me. Most people have a favorite genre they stick to, but I don’t. I’ll read pretty much anything with words. Still, like most people I do have my favorites – both books and writers.

If I had to chose a list of my top five favorite writers, I’d have to go with Joss Whedon, Mary Shelley, Lewis Carroll, Aldous Huxley and, of course, the fabulous J. K. Rowling. Not only do they tell one hell of a story, but they write in such an amazing and vivid way that I flat out get lost in their work.

But then, here’s the problem. There’s no way I’m as good a writer as these five – they’re incredible. They’re famous and world-renowned, while meanwhile I’m still struggling with adverbs and repetition. Sure, I think I come up with some cool stories, but my writing . . . let’s just say it’s not up to their standards.

I remember the day I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (about twenty hours give or take after it came out at its midnight release). I put the book down, looked over at my desk where my current manuscript sat waiting and said – no way. There’s NO WAY I can finish it knowing how terrible it is in comparison to Rowling’s masterpiece.

Now, I will admit over time I stopped whining and got back to work. I mean, my characters were still inside my head throwing tempter-tantrums as they wait to get out. But that little nagging fear in the back of my head that says “you’ll never live up to your idols”, well, let’s just say it stays with me daily.

But hopefully, with the support of other insecure writers like myself, I shut it up with a cookie or something. Fingers crossed . . .


  1. I understand exactly where you are coming from. I suffer from the same insecurities - I think we all do. But we can't all be J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer, nor should we want to. (okay, I admit...I do want to be like them.)

    Your manuscript is YOUR manuscript. It isn't their story, characters or world. That's what makes it great. That's what makes it special. So don't fret, you aren't J.K. Rowling...and that's a good thing.

  2. Man, I can so relate. When I read something incredibly beautiful, or skillful, or poignant, I want to give up. But what if everyone did that? The world would suck. I think we all have something to donate to this literary world! Just because you're not the incredible Ms. Rowling doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Because I'll bet you've got your own damn good story to tell!
    Sorry about the inspiration speech. I've been reading Steve Jobs quotes all day. ^_^

  3. It's nice to have someone to look up to.

  4. Cookies are the best way to shut up that nagging voice. Or Whiskey. I definitely relate though. Its hard to read something and think. How will I ever be this good.

  5. I'm pretty sure I was thinking the exact same thing about J.K. at the exact same time you were. Roughly 20 hours after the midnight release of HP and The Deathly

    We might not ever be as good as she is...but I have a secret. Don't try to be. Write your story in your voice and I promise it will kickass all on its own.

    I give myself daily peptalks in case you can't

  6. My insecurities go in a bell curve from I'm an amazing writer to I'm a horrible writer. The important thing is at any given time both opinions can be right and it's the practice and editing that gets me away from one end of the spectrum and closer to the end that we are all striving to reach.

  7. hey!
    just stopping by from Alex Cavanaugh's blog... on the Insecure Writer's Support Tour!
    concerning ur post, yeah, ive read stuff that is so good i want to give up! lol... but then ive also read bad stuff and i think i can do better.... guess it's just whatever way u look at it

    "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do"

    -Steve Jobs

  8. I feel the same way after reading a really good book. But it's also inspiring, in a way--if someone else can put all that emotion (or whatever it is that's the most striking) into a page, it means that you can, too. :)

    Thanks for coming by my blog!

  9. Wow everyone, thanks for all the incredible support!

    Michelle and E - It is good to have someone to look up to - it just sometimes seems like an incredible way up. But still, you're right. As great as Rowling is, we can't all be her, but we can all have our own interesting and fun voice to tell our own stories.

    Sara - agreed. Cookies (and drinks haha) are the solution to most things.

    Marsha - So glad I wasn't the only one! And I think I may need to try a few of those pep talks myself!

    Kris and Jeremy - Steve Jobs as inspiration...LOVE it!

    Golden Eagle - Thank you!

  10. LAUREN YOU'RE A ROCKIN' BLOGGIN' MANIAC!!! Hahaha! Aaaaand....


    Rowling, schmowling. You, my dear, are awesome. And the rough edges? Well, what the heck do you think critique groups are for?! Duh!

    P.s. I don't think a cookie will cut it... better try a strawberry cupcake.

  11. The way I've tried to look at it is this, there is always going to be someone better than me. Always. That's just the way life it. Also, there will be people worse than me, too. But you can't let that go to your head. Once you think your a big fish, some gigantic fish will come and swallow you whole.

    So, what are we to do? First, stop comparing. It will drive a writer insane. Second, support one another--regardless of the writing ability. We're all climbing the same mountain, some are taking baby steps up the hill, others are sprinting. Regardless, there is no top of the mountain. Not for anyone. Third, keep writing and improving.

    I know my stuff today is a 100x better than the stuff I wrote two years ago. And I know that in ten years from now, my stuff will be SO much better than the stuff I write today.

    FOURTH (the most important), have fun. If you love writing, can't live without it, then write. That's all.

    Everything else will fall into place.

  12. Yes. I remember finishing War and Peace, and then looking over at my WIP, and thinking, why even bother? I agree with the other comments, though - we each have our own voice, and a unique way to contribute to the writing world...

  13. Oh the pressure we put upon ourselves!!! I know this feeling all too well. When I was complimented by someone telling me I had a "Tolkien-esque" style, (after figuring out what they meant, mind you) I said to myself, "What?!" Seriously, comparing my work to Tolkien's? Is this guy nutters? Well, maybe he was but who knows about the rest. I mean, sure they can tell me they love my writing style and tell me I am like so and so. But people don't realize, I've got enough pressure on me just trying to be a DECENT writer. ;)
    Great post! And thanks for following me!

  14. I agree with all the posts so far, comparing yourself to published writers only makes you write like them (I have the literary equivalent of falling into a person's accent and voice patterns when speaking to them - it's a hard habit to break). You are unique with your own voice, and that's what you should celebrate!

    Thanks for following my blog!

  15. Oh my goodness, this happens to me all the time. Fortunately, I also read enough books where I think, "You know, maybe my stuff isn't so bad" to balance it. As much as I love reading good books, sometimes, they really do a number on my confidence. Great post.

  16. Um, I think Rowling was a terrible writer until she learned to write. You have to remember, writers don't just produce masterpieces on the first try, it takes many rounds of edits and comments from others to make it readable.

    Love the post, and love that you love to read.

  17. lol...boy I hear you on this. Insecurity is a state of being for me. Thanks for sharing!

  18. I love the name of your blog... "Pensuasion" reels the reader in! Posting 3 different stories in one day is really something. Thanks for following me and I look forward to seeing more of you! Julie

  19. This is a tough one! I wonder if your writing heroes struggled with the same problem? Glad you didn't give up and continue to write through all your fears and doubts.

    We have to keep learning and growing as writers and one day the confidence will show up and all those pesky doubts and fears will fade. At least, that's what I keep telling myself!

    Good luck to you...:)

  20. The potential to be a great writer is in you. It begins with desire and is fueled by hard work and the willingness to learn. All of your complaints I had at one point and still do, but my writing has improved by leaps and bounds since I started my blog and began to write flash fiction. I guess it's true what they say about writing, just keep at it.