Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Insecure Writer's Support Group:July 2017

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group!  Alex J. Cavanaugh is the creator of this fine organization, and this month he's enlisted the help of Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website!

I went through a bit of a writing slump over the last month, and I felt terrible about my lack of any kind of progress.  I never feel good about myself when I'm not writing, but I'm not sure if it's the guilt of not being productive or if something about the writing process naturally makes me happier.  It could, perhaps, be a combination of the two.

The good news is that I'm bringing myself out of it.  I made a recent submission, I'm making good progress on editing a story I'd like to send out soon, and I have an idea for the next story I'd like to write.  I'll count that as a victory.

And now for the July 5th Question.

What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

There are a lot of lessons to be learned, and I'm sure I'll learn many more along the way.  One lesson I've been learning lately is to trust myself and my instincts.  This includes trusting both that I can write compelling stories and that I'm capable of getting better over time.

We all hear about what we shouldn't be doing as writers, but that doesn't make it any easier to figure out what we should be doing.  I think we've all felt insecure about stories we've written and whether they're any good.  We all want people to enjoy our work, and I know I've spent a lot of time second-guessing myself because of what I think other people might say about various writing choices I've made.  What will people think of the protagonist? Will people relate to this character? Will this POV do what I want it to do, or will it destroy the whole story?

We should ask ourselves questions like this, of course, but at the end of the day, we need to make a choice and trust ourselves to pull it off, even if it takes several attempts.  If we don't, we may get stuck in a perpetual loop of doubt and never finish anything.  Or we may get discouraged and give up altogether.

I realize I'll never write anything that everyone will love, and that's okay.  None of us can.  We'll always have people who dislike our work for whatever reason.  What we can do is trust ourselves to write stories that resonate with some people and be happy with our accomplishments.  We can learn to take criticism in a positive way and not let it destroy our trust in ourselves as writers.  We'll always have room to grow and get better, but that doesn't mean we're terrible or incompetent. Incompetence comes from an unwillingness to learn.  And the only way to learn is to keep writing.

None of this is easy, of course, but I'm slowly getting there.

What's a valuable lesson you've learned?


  1. I think your lesson is quite similar to mine; I really do believe that if we get too hung up on what other people think, it can hurt our writing in the end. Obviously we are writing for an audience, but like you said, we have to trust in ourselves as well.
    Glad you're coming out of your slump!

  2. Gut instinct is important. Even with my authors, when they receive back edits, I always tell them to follow their instincts when making corrections.

  3. Not everyone will love it and that is indeed all right.
    Glad you're out of your slump.

  4. Being lost in the creative process makes me happy, but I need to do more to make sure I am creative on a regular basis instead of waiting until the planets align.

  5. I love that lesson--to trust your instinct. I believe that. When you've done the due diligence and feel your gut talking, listen.

  6. I agree: learning to take criticism in a positive way is key.

  7. The past few months for me haven't been very productive for my writing. I get some done here and there, but not a lot. I have to work hard not to feel guilty because there are reasons other than procrastination that I haven't been able to write (although, I have done that too.)

  8. Realizing that not everyone will like your book, but that it's okay for that to happen, is a big lesson all writers must learn. In the end, you're the only one who truly needs to like your book. So believe in yourself and everything else will take care of itself.