Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IWSG - Analyze This


So I was giving the whole "insecure writer" thing some thought the other day. There I was strolling through the hood, leashed to my 70lb labradoodle with my headphones in, when I started pondering what it is that makes us insecure.

Now, it could be that I've been watching waaaay too many Frasier reruns and analyzing everything from coat hangers to old friends, but I was instantly struck with the question: what is it exactly that makes me feel insecure about my writing??

Here are the main two answers I came up with:

Fear of rejection
Looking stupid

There it is in a nutshell.

What if not everyone likes my work? Bah! Of course not everyone will like my work. It's impossible to please everyone, so don't even try.

What if I'm not as good as I hoped and readers call me out? Boy would I feel stupid. Well even bestselling Neil Gaiman said he used to wait for the fraud police to show up at his door with a clipboard and call him out for impersonating an author.

So I think it's safe to say that regardless of who we are, we have to face these fears head on if we expect to get anywhere with our writing. We will be rejected by readers, critics, editors, and agents. And we will at some point feel or look stupid for something we could've done better, but at least we're trying, and getting closer to our goals with every failure or every mistake.

So I say let's embrace our insecurities and accept our imperfections, all the while understanding no writer is perfect. As long as we're doing the time and working toward our goal, at least we can be proud of ourselves.

I hope you can visit me over at Nutshell's blog today. She's featuring my workspace and invited me for a brief interview. Come see what my office looks like at  http://www.thewritingnut.com/.

And thanks so much for stopping by! Tell me, when you stop to analyze what makes you an insecure writer, what answer do you come up with and why?

45 comments:

Cynthia said...

Being told "no" happens to the best of writers. As for your concerns about feeling "stupid" I just want to point out that we live and we learn,and something that might feel dramatically embarrassing to you might only be noticed by you and no one else. =)

Suzanne Furness said...

This is so true, we all feel like this at some point. Rembering we are not alone in these thoughts and worries can be helpful on those 'bad' days.

T. Drecker said...

Yep, that sums it up. I once heard a quote (I can never remember names or exact wording)that we can't please everyone, and if we do, something is most definitely wrong.
But knowing this and living by it are two different things.
On my way to the other site!

Carole Anne Carr said...

I try not to be one, PK, rely on my Atlanta friend, 3000 miles away, or here in my study every day on Skype, to keep my going. :0)

Susan Roebuck said...

Good post PK. We are a doubting bunch, aren't we? And you're right, you can't please everyone all of the time (but as you say, it's the you can't please anyone ever that worries me!!) We do so need people to read our work and give constructive help - it's vital.

shelly said...

I wouldn't worry too much. Not everyone does like what you do. Secondhand Shoes has a 1ot more 5 star reviews than 3 stars. And the ones that have the 3 stars still noted that they couldn't put my book down because it was so entertaining.

So don't worry. Its all good.

Hugs and chocolate,
Shelly

Pat Dilloway said...

I'm glad I don't do this thing because this morning I got some good news that made me feel pretty secure as a writer. By the afternoon it might be a different story, lol.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

PK, the feeling stupid part made me laugh!
That's what this group is all about.

Linda King said...

I love this encouraging post! :-)

Isis Rushdan said...

Many of us could echo those same sentiments. Pushing through the doubt is the only way to reach success.

DMS said...

I love that you brought up what Neil Gaiman said- I remind myself of that all the time (I read somewhere that he had said that).

I also love that you said- we will look stupid at some point- but at least we are trying. SO TRUE!
~Jess

Karen Walker said...

same as yours, Pk.

Natalie Aguirre said...

So true about these fears. We all have them and it's good to know we're not alone in feeling that way. And to accept that not everyone will like what we write.

Lexa Cain said...

I have a fear of rejection, like you, but I don't fear people will think I'm stupid. I fear they'll be bored and think "Meh. Nothing special here." (And I'll know it's true...)

I'm heading over to Nutschell's! :-)

cleemckenziebooks said...

Oh yes. Looking stupid in front of your peers is very insecure-producing. I have calluses on the parts where rejection occurs. :-)

Emma Adams said...

Fear and rejection are part of a writer's life - all we can do is keep going in the face of adversity! :)

Andrew Leon said...

I think the "trying to please everyone" thing is a big deal. I try to look at as trying to find the people that like my stuff and forget about everyone else. Discover your audience.

And what do you mean I'm not perfect? Of course, I am! :P

Johanna Garth said...

Whenever I have that 'fraud' feeling as a writer, I remind myself I felt exactly the same way when I was practicing law. Maybe we also feel that way because it's pretty unbelievable we get to make up stories and are paid to do so!

Murees Dupé said...

I can really relate to this post. I have the fear of being called out too. What if people hate my work? I worry about this all the time and it is nice to know that I am not alone with this. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and for your kind words. Also, thank you so much for following as well.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Those are valid reasons for being insecure! Nobody wants to feel stupid or inadequate. And there's nothing like writing to do that, especially once the book is out and someone wants to trash it.

mooderino said...

The fear of embarrassing myself is always present, but there's no way to avoid it so might as well go for it and hope for the best.

mood

kimlajevardi.com said...

My fears are similar to yours. What if they don't like my writing? What if they don't like me? It's a normal part of the human condition, but we have to experience it on something created within ourselves. Somehow that makes it more personal, more intense.

Great IWSG post!

Kim Lajevardi
(This Writer's Growing)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I think your analysis is pretty spot on and applies to most writers, both newbies and old-timers. I'm an old-timer newbie, so I guess that means a double whammy for me. HA!

M. R. Buttars said...

I just have one more to add to the two you mentioned. That is the fear to total failure. I'm absolutely terrified that I will publish a book and no one, nowhere will read it. I've had nightmares about this, which is probably why I only have two and half rough drafts completed and haven't even bothered to revise any of them. Need to get a big dose of chocolate and get to work. :)

Margo Kelly said...

I'm afraid of being paralyzed by fear. ;) Seriously, though, I don't mind being rejected, but I hate it when someone ridicules me (or my writing). I understand that not everyone will like what I write, but it's not necessary to belittle anyone, ever. Critique, sure, but just being mean is stinky.

Denise Covey said...

Much the same as you, Pk. Most writers are insecure about something, but mainly about looking foolish I think. Consider how much of ourselves we are showing to the world - a lot! But it's encouragement from other writers that keeps us from falling into a slough of despair in a down times.

I will pop over to your interview. I always like to make myself jealous about workplaces!

Lynda R Young said...

Ah yes, a very familiar fear. And yep, I do believe the only way to get over it is to push through and keep writing.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I won't lie...every harsh review makes me wonder if I'm deluding myself. But I still don't quit. It's an addiction.

Tammy Theriault said...

i can't visit you at the other blog because i fear...i'll look stupid!! haha...girl your such a sweetheart. and the poodle in the hood!

Cally Jackson said...

Yep you've pretty much summed it up! Imposter syndrome is a shocker. Makes you feel better to know that even huge names like Gaiman experience it too. :-)

James Garcia Jr. said...

Hey, P.K. *waves* We should create a Facebook group for those devoted to Frasier Reruns!! *fistbump*
You know, for me, I have never once thought my writing wasn't good enough. My fear is the market is simply too big and I'll spin my wheels trying to get "discovered".
The only thing driving me is regret. I refuse to sit in the window of an old-folks home, wishing I would have tried harder. So, here I am! Still trying.

-Jimmy

Libby said...

I completely fear looking stupid. About everything from plot to word usage. I hear things wrong all the time and constantly have to look up common phrases on google. CONSTANTLY. And forget comma placement. I hear ya!

Meradeth Houston said...

I totally, completely get the looking stupid bit. I worry about that all the time--with my writing, with my teaching, everything. Kind of annoying really, when I really get down to it :) Great thing to think about though--and maybe figure out how to avoid!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hey, PK...

You are SOOOOO right! One of the hardest things for any creative person is worrying about whether people will like their work or not.

Business people don't really have as much of this issue as writer's do.

And yes, not everyone will LOVE our work. All we can hope for is that the majority does... AND even bad reviews can be helpful at times.

Glad to hear you're out an about with your buddy. Keep at it PK. I can't wait to see you in a few months! Will be down in late October/November...


fOIS In The City said...

PK, ditto to all you said, all that is said in comments. We are the worst bunch with self-awareness. We dont know if we are good enough and are truly clueless as to our own self-worth. That being said ... keep moving foward and inch by inch you'll get there :)

Carole Anne Carr said...

Thanks, PK, the mobility scooter arrives tomorrow, the moment of truth!!

E.J. Wesley said...

Failure for this guy! I've done well at most things I've put my time and energy into, but most of those things had very concrete objectives (like getting a college degree, getting a raise, etc.).

There's no mountain top in writing. You can climb forever and not be the best or satisfied with your effort. Just the nature of it, because for every person who tells you you're doing it right, another won't get it.

That's also what keeps me at it, though. :)

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

That is it in a nutshell! Plus the fear of failure, the thought of not being able to complete it, not being known, not doing anything more. But as long as we keep at it, there is no failure in the mix. Writer’s Mark

mshatch said...

Oh so true, PK. Heading over to visit you at Nutchells :)

alexia said...

I think I get insecure because I want to be a brilliant and amazing writer, not just a good one. And that's a lot of pressure :)

Popping over to Nutshell's!

William Kendall said...

Those two reasons in a nutshell really do sum it up!

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

Also, for me, the fear of being "nothing". I put too much emphasis on my writing, I know. I am NOT just a writer but, sometimes, it feels like my writing is the only way to be "something" besides a family member or friend. I know, it sounds horrible but... there it is.

noonebutabloghead said...

Feeling insecure is just part of the creative mindset unfortunately. Best of luck with your project!

Crystal Collier said...

You nailed it on the head. Looking stupid. Man, I think every author needs to find one or two MEGA fans to keep them going, then only listen to them. ;)

Well, okay, listen to your beta readers and critique partners too, but believe your MEGA fans.

Carol Riggs said...

Very good points. I think you've nailed it for a lot of writers--rejection and feeling stupid are a big part of our insecurities. Basically, I'm insecure because I'd love everyone to like me and my work, as you said. I gotta work on adjusting my attitude about that. It's an impossible dream. :) I also have to quit expecting others to be perfect!!