Monday, October 14, 2013

3 Easy Steps to Turn Your Writing Insecurities into Strengths

by Lynda R Young
Our writing insecurities have a way of feeding the voice of doubt, tugging on the compulsion to give up, and making us hide our work because we think it’s not good enough. They come and go, of course, but just when we think we’ve mastered the insecurities, they come back in full force the next time we get a rejection letter or a bad review. Since they don’t fully go away, we need to find a way to deal with them so they no longer rule us. We need to make them work for us.

Step One: Don’t Deny the Insecurities.
Every writer, new to established, has felt insecurities about their writing. Accept this is going to happen to you too. Don’t punish yourself for feeling the urge to quit, the urge to weep, to shout and pout and everything in between. Feel these things—privately—and get them out of your system. If you bottle up the emotions and hide them in a dark place, then the problem will only fester and grow.

Step Two: Find Support.
Most writers will agree with me: Writing isn’t easy. Every part of the process has the potential to be painful—from the idea to a finished manuscript, from the querying or formatting to the published book. The way is littered with stumbling blocks which will snag our doubts. We need support to keep us strong and focused.

While family and friends can be a great support, a writer needs the kind of encouragement and understanding only other writers can offer. The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a fabulous group for this and we even have a Facebook group for fast feedback, whether you need genuine cheers, a shoulder to cry on, or helpful advice. There is no such thing as having too much support too, so connect with other writers at conferences and workshops, and join a writing group in your local area.

Step Three: Adjust Your Approach.
Insecurities are all too often perceived as a weakness. It’s why we so often shy from them or hide them. If, however, we change our thinking, and embrace a more positive approach toward any reservations we might have toward our writing, then the power they once had over us will lessen.

For example:
Insecurities flare when we’re focusing in the wrong place. They act as a great reminder when we’re caught up in the negatives when we should be celebrating the positives. Every milestone in the writing dream should be noted, shared, and celebrated.

Insecurities are a watchdog against an inflated ego. The ego tells us our work is pure gold, we don’t need to go to workshops or find critique partners, and everyone will love our stories. Insecurities remind us we can’t please everyone and, while we won’t ever reach perfection in our writing, there’s always more to learn. Even the very best writers need critique partners and beta readers.

Insecurities remind us why we write. It’s easy to get loaded down in the hard slog of writing and polishing a manuscript. We forget far too quickly how much we love to write. When the hardship hits us, we’re forced to remember why we started writing in the first place.

Insecurities teach us to appreciate the craft. Without our uncertainties, we’re more likely to dream of those publishing unicorns and rainbows, and expect to climb to the bestseller lists without pouring our all into the effort. We need our insecurities to truly understand what it takes to get published and stay published.

Insecurities tell us that near enough isn’t good enough. When I get to the end of a manuscript, I’m bored of editing and just want to start sending it out…then those little doubts start nibbling at the corner of my mind. I want to ignore them because I’m eager to move on to the next project. Sound familiar? Our insecurities are often just what we need to give our manuscripts one more round of edits. It could make the difference between rejection and a contract.

You have writing insecurities? Great! That makes you normal. Now go write!

What helps you to turn insecurities into strengths? How have your support groups helped? How do your insecurities keep you going?

Lynda R. Young lives in Sydney, Australia, with her sweetheart of a husband who is her rock, and a cat who believes world domination starts in the home. She writes speculative short stories and is currently writing novels for young adults. In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Photo by Lynda R Young. Sapling on the beach, somewhere on the Australian coast between Sydney and Melbourne.



Anonymous said...

Great tips here, as the quotation say"To every negative problem there is a positive outcome"


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent tips! Yes, they keep us humble and with ego in check. We'll never arrive at perfection, but we can continue growing in that direction our whole lives.

Unknown said...

I love the last one, Lyn (and yes, I read them ALL...not just the last one). But near enough is never good enough. At least not for me.

In my family, I grew up hearing a phrase, "Good enough for government work." In other words, the job was completed, but not too well. Dad was military, so we knew the job wasn't up to specs if we heard that come from his mouth.

So...I grew up with an eagle eye for details. And a lack of desire to work for the government!

Great post, and nice spotlight on Terry.

M.L. Swift, Writer

J.L. Campbell said...

It's so true that we need others to help us move forward and that our insecurities keep us striving toward being better writers.

Unknown said...

In Depth analyses!
Writing is my therapy, to stop because of insecurity would be foolish of me. Thanks again!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Your manuscript isn't something you can do a so-so job on and call it done. Or rush the process because you're impatient.

Julie Flanders said...

I love the idea of adjusting our approach. Definitely going to try that.
Great advice!

Suze said...

POW! Chick. That was incredibly well thought-out and expressed. I particularly like the first two points under 'for example.'

Luanne G. Smith said...

I don't find family particularly helpful for calming the insecurities, only because they don't fully understand the process. But it most definitely helps to meet up with my writing buddies in the blogosphere once a month to air those insecurities out and get some positive feedback on how to deal. :))

Liza said...

Insecurities make us question our selves, and in turn, try harder. It's difficult to live through, but I'll take insecurities as a way to enhance performance any day.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thank you, Lynda. These are such great points that truly address my role as a writer and an author. Better to be equipped than wondering why I can't just get over "it".


Robin said...

I like your take on Insecurities. There are so many positives. They push us to be better. But, so often, they make us FEEL weaker. It's the great dichotomy.

H. R. Sinclair said...

Good tips on turning things around.

Pat Hatt said...

Insecurities can creep up indeed, nice tips to turn them around and make sure they don't annoy with their nagging

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great advice. I always feel most confident in my writing when I'm very focused on a project.

PK HREZO said...

Excellent advice, Lynda. It's a tricky balance, but you've made it something we should all embrace.

cleemckenzie said...

Ego? I lost that last year. :-) But yes to all that you've written here. Absolutely spot on.

Sanderella said...

Great supportive tips, and I am loving this site. I am finding it so very helpful, in not just blogging about it, but absorbing and going about my short story with much confidence...well, pretty much so anyway! Thanks so much, Sandy

Charlie N. Holmberg said...

Great advice!

For me, insecurities push me to study in those areas. I used to be insecure about my prose, so I studied up and practiced until I got confident with it. Insecurities can be power!

S.P. Bowers said...

Love the tips. Writer friends help keep the insecurities at bay. They're truthful when things need to be fixed but they also believe in me. And when they believe I can make it work it's so much easier to believe in myself.

Carol Riggs said...

I like how you brought out that insecurities can be a GOOD thing, and to embrace them, Lyn. Excellent!

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic post, Lynda! The IWSG has helped me tremendously. I also have another online group that has wonderfully supportive writers. I know my stuff is never good enough. That drives me forward, and it's my great groups that let me know I do write well so my insecurities don't drag me down.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Yvonne, I think every writer should have that quote plastered onto their wall in their writing room.

Alex, such is the Christian life too.

Mike, Sounds like you learnt good things from your dad. That eye for detail will take you a long way.

Joy, and we all want to be better writers! Thanks, Joy.

David, yes! Writing is so therapeutic! It keeps the people around me sane ;)

Diane, it's such a shame though ;)

Julie, it will take some practise, but well worth it.

Suze, thanks so much. It took me a while to sort out my thoughts on the subject.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Luanne, exactly. The understanding of what it's like to be a writing is lost in translation for non-writers.

Liza, yes, they definitely aren't always easy to handle, but they can offer us so much.

Joylene, a non-writer's worst advice is 'get over it!' lol.

Robin, yes, if we stay with feeling weak then they've defeated us. Thanks.

Southpaw, thanks

Pat, our loved ones will thank us too ;)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Susan, gotta love those focused moments :)

PK, definitely a tricky balance. Thanks

Lee, have you checked under the bed? (sorry, couldn't resist). Thanks for your comment.

Sandy, that's so wonderful to hear! Confidence is a writer's best friend.

Charlie, exactly right! Thanks.

SP, yes, that belief from our support teams makes such a difference.

Carol, thanks so much

Christine, it's funny how us writers love extremes. We either think our work is awesome, or it's awful. And that's why we need others to set our heads straight. Thanks, Christine.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great thoughts on insecurities - they do help us to reach out to others, stay working on our craft, and force us to be serious about editing - all of which are good.

Unknown said...

These are great tips. What a great website this is.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Tyrean, so many benefits! Thanks.

Clarissa, it's a work in progress! :)

Julie Musil said...

Love how you turned a negative into a positive! Thank goodness for groups like this, that remind us that we're normal. Thank you!

Elsie Amata said...

You're right, Lynda. Our insecurities help keep us grounded.

Jen said...

These are wonderful, Linda. Insecurity is a necessary evil in many respects. As you mentioned, it keeps us humble and also makes us sensitive to the insecurities and struggles of other writers. We can't comfort others if we haven't dealt with the same insecurities.

Arlee Bird said...

So true what you say here.

If we don't confront our insecurities head-on, we'll always be on the run or trying to hide from them.

Tossing It Out

Michelle Wallace said...

Great tips Lynda!
I like step 3 - adjust your approach - there are many ways of doing this...
For example, step out of your comfort zone and try a different genre/style or a different perspective... you'll learn something new AND minimize the power your insecurities hold over you!

Cathrina Constantine said...

Lynda, as always your post is fantastic. I learn a great deal from you. The IWSG is remarkable. I love the support that family and friends cannot give. Mainly because they don't understand the trials and tribulations of being a writer. Also, the hard mental strain that's involved in being a writer or the weeping and hair pulling, and the leap of faith, and joy of accomplishments.

Cherie Reich said...

Such great tips, Lynda!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Kate, thanks

Julie, Knowing we're normal makes a huge difference.

Elsie, a much needed thing ;)

Jen, you make a great point! Being able to comfort others is even more important than being comforted ourselves.

Lee, and then the insecurities have all the power. Thanks.

Michelle, great example!

Cathrina, us writers are complex creatures. You either have to be another writer to understand us, or spend a lifetime studying us ;)

Cherie, thanks

Unknown said...

I like that- insecurities tell us that near enough isn't good enough. I'll have to write that one down somewhere.

Gina Gao said...

These are some great tips!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

I'm normal? Really? (Feeling chuffed.)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Melanie, yes! write it down! It's too tempting to opt for the 'easy' road, but it never turns out easy. Our insecurities make sure of it ;)

Gina, Thanks

Cathy, it's a good feeling, isn't it? :)

Philip Verghese 'Ariel' said...

Hi Lynda,
I am a bit late here.
Thanks for sharing these wonderful and thought provoking tips to your readers.
Yes, one should not deny the insecurities, everyone has this even the veterans sometimes face this, So face it boldly and come out from the zones. great one
and the seeking support from the like minded one which I think is the most important one but sadly many lag behind here thinking of their insecurity her too.
Best Regards.