Thursday, March 8, 2012

Writers and Their Insecurities

Writers tend to be an insecure group--at least, that is the notion that seems to circulate among writerly conversations. Why is that? Well, I have a few theories I use to examine my own self-confidence and, sometimes, lack thereof.

1. Writing is a solitary activity and being alone can do things to a person. Don't get me wrong. I like my alone time. The one time of the day when I truly feel relaxed is when everyone in my family is home and asleep except me. Everyone is safe, but it's quiet. No one is knocking at the door or calling on the phone and no one needs dinner. I do much of my writing after everyone is asleep. However, for a writer who is "pre-agented" and has no editor awaiting their revisions (ha), writing alone can sometimes create the illusion that the writer is actually alone, misunderstood, and unsupported. Even agented and published writers battle with insecurity as some of my writer friends can attest. Non-writer friends and family may offer their own thoughtful cheerleading, but the writer still feels insecure. Networking at conferences, participating in critique groups, and following writers' blogs are great ways of dispelling these insecurities. Connecting with other writers who are at different stages of their writing journey and discovering that others have felt the same way is both educational and soul-soothing.

2. Writers are usually too close to their own work to objectively see its flaws. On the wings of creative euphoria, writers live in their characters' heads in a world they create. They enjoy the experience so much that they envision every sight, sound, and smell with their characters. They believe they've just written their world in a way that everyone else who reads it will experience the same thing. The mind plays tricks. I've had whirlwind writing sessions in which the words flowed and the story came to life in front of me on my laptop, but a little time and distance reveals that much of what I imagined was not conveyed on the page. It is easy for insecurity to rear its head when writers ask others to read their work and then discover that what they thought was vibrant and touching was, in fact...not.

3. Writers must deal with rejection and criticism. One of the most effective ways of becoming a better writer is subjecting one's hard work to criticism and rejection. Even the most beloved published works were rejected and criticized by someone. Some were rejected and criticized by many. This is a fact of being a writer, but it explains the insecurities.

So what is the insecure writer to do?

After that, getting out in nature, playing the piano, and singing work for me. Then, a good critique group meeting or a writing workshop and chocolate. What do you do about writer insecurity?


  1. The first time I shared my work at a critic session, I was told that it was a complete waste. And that was exactly what I needed to hear. Things have only gotten better since. Great thoughts! :)

    1. Such growing pains can be difficult, but they really speed along our improvement!
      I'm always encouraged to hear stories like yours. I had a similar experience, but with an editor. I wish a peer had mentioned it first!

  2. Writing friends and critique groups are great. Going for walks and lots of chocolate are a must!