Writing Insecurities


On Twitter last night I read DD Shari Green’s tweet, “964 words. Some of them don’t suck.

Then on the Writer Unboxed blog I encountered Debbie Ohi’s delightful cartoon…

The cartoon evoked so many comments along the line of, “You must be living in my head!” and “Have you been spying on me?” that a thought stood up and began waving its arms at me… the thought that at some point most writers must feel insecure about their writing.

I know I do. I think I’m a reasonably decent writer, but when I read my work-in-progress I know without a doubt that it’s gosh awful. After I revise, rework, rewrite until my eyes cross, it’s only marginally better, and I despair of ever creating a novel worth reading.

Then along comes a compliment from an unlikely source, and hope stirs a tender sprout that begins to work its way out of my shriveled core. Uncertain. Seeking the light of acceptance, but squinting, just in case it’s looking in the wrong direction. Maybe… just maybe… my story doesn’t completely suck.

That’s the stage I’m at now. How about you? Do writing insecurities ever get you down?

Update: There is also a good post on this topic at K.M. Weiland’s blog: “10 Steps for Working Past the ‘This Stinks’ Blues“.

23 thoughts on “Writing Insecurities

  1. John Ager says:

    Hi, you may find my post about writing helpful:
    Best wishes, John.

  2. Laura Best says:

    Oh yeah! At the moment very much so! There are times when I hate everything I write and wonder if I’ll ever be published again. This is where I am at the moment. Guess I’m in good company. After awhile it’s difficult to be excited about a story we’ve worked and reworked and over-worked. Time to suck it up and keep writing, I guess.

    Thanks for this. I needed it!

  3. Erica Vetsch says:

    Most certainly YES! Writer’s Doubt is much more to be feared than Writer’s Block. In fact, it’s Writer’s Doubt that causes Writer’s Block in me.

  4. I constantly wonder why I’m trying to write. Especially after I read something I’ve written after a significant amount of time has passed. I read it and blush.

  5. Judith Robl says:

    I’ve been doing critiques for others at the moment and wonder if I could ever live up to my own expectations. The craft of writing doesn’t bother me nearly so much as the structure and theme of the novel. Why in kingdom come would anyone want to read what I’d written? Just sent the first 500 words of my historical to a published author who was offering a critique for contest entries. I’m eager to see what a professional has to say about it. And of course, I know it’s just one person’s opinion.

    Who pulled this “bait and switch” anyway? I thought writing was supposed to be a pleasure – but it’s turned out to be really hard work.

  6. Paul Greci says:

    Writing is pretty much a roller coaster ride for me. Some highs some lows some fast drops and slow climbs. It’s just nice to know that whatever it is I am feeling will change, and then it will change again, and again 🙂

  7. Yes. Writing insecurities get me down. They got me down in the grave. Then, another day, up from the grave she arose! Only to shrivel up and die again. Blessings to you…

  8. joylene says:

    I’m so stressed I’m no longer sure which square I’m in. Probably the “Boy am I a terrible writer.” I’m reworking my synopsis and so far all attempts suck. Not as bad as what they posted on the book’s website. I keep remembering that to encourage myself. LOL. Great post, Carol.

  9. Karen says:

    I love it and it’s so true! I’ve written five books and maybe some day I’ll publish one or more of them, but in the mean time I continue to edit. I think they’ll never be good enough, but then when I’m reading one of them, I get back into the story and think, hey, this is pretty good. My goal this year? Improve on my writing… and of course, edit, edit, edit. Great post!

  10. Shari Green says:

    I’m usually camped out in the “I’m not so bad after all” stage, occasionally wandering into “my writing really sucks” territory. I don’t think I’ve ever felt brilliant, lol. I know I’ve got a lot to learn, but I don’t often let the stage-of-suckiness get me down (although it happens). I figure, keep writing, keep learning, keep trying again, and eventually I’ll tweet “today fewer of my words sucked”. 😉

  11. Jody Hedlund says:

    Carol, I can absolutely relate. Here’s a secret. I haven’t read The Preacher’s Bride since the galleys. And I don’t think I ever, ever will read it again. I’m too afraid to, because I know I’ll find mistakes and be overly critical. And what’s the use? I can’t change it now! I’m feeling like my second book really, really stinks. And I’m doing all I can to pull it up to par. But, I’m not perfect so I can’t expect that my book will be, right? All that to say, we are often our toughest critics. It’s a blessing and a curse both at the same time!

  12. I go through those stages too! It’s nice to see others feel the same way about their writing. I think I just hit ruts in my story and that is when I feel inclined to put the book aside and start something new. But some of my best work came when I pushed through. I think the hardest parts are when it’s the best…that’s when I have all these decisions to make.

  13. Yes. Every second that my fingers hit the keyboard. It’s so comforting to see another sharing her insecurities about her craft. Great post. ; )

  14. shopgirl says:

    It is the insecurities and an over analyzing mind that drives me to write, my inability to let anything go until it is put down as words on paper is one of the few reasons I am bothering with this frustrating and exhilarating craft.

  15. Obviously I’m not the only one experiencing this! It’s interesting to read these comments and see how negativity or insecurity is affecting all of us. Also, a special thank you to those of you visiting here for the first time. I appreciate your contribution to the conversation. I’ll look forward to checking out your sites soon.

  16. Keli Gwyn says:

    Carol, I experience bouts of doubts on a regular basis. It takes effort to slay the Doubt Dragon, but if we let the troublesome creature take up residence, he can seriously drain our creativity. Eviction is the solution.

  17. All the time! I call the writing blues “brain weasels” and they’re constantly gnawing in my head.

  18. Oh, how well I know those stages!

  19. “. . . hope stirs a tender sprout that begins to work its way out of my shriveled core.”

    Amazing what one little word of encouragement can do.

  20. Barbara, “brain weasels” cracks me up! What an analogy, but it’s a good description of what it feels like.

    I’m discovering many of us share the same feelings, Kristen.

    And yes, Sandra, I’ve certainly found a friendly word, a kindness, an unexpected blessing, can lift one’s spirits and give wings to our determination to persevere.

    Thanks for all your comments. This is such an uplifting conversation!

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