Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Most Insecure Insecure Writer's Support Group Post Ever

Here we are again; another Insecure Writer's Support Group post hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Do join in! You'll be glad you did!

Ok, so I may have over done the title a bit but that is EXACTLY how I'm feeling this morning. It is how I've felt for the past few years. Though I'm in school focusing on writing, I have produced no writing in the past two years that I can honestly say is "up to par" with what I know I'm capable of. I've written papers, I've written discussion posts, I've written nonfiction stories that were more painful that getting another root canal. Yet I still call myself a "writer"; I still confess to going into student loan debt in order to get a degree in "writing".

Here's my insecurity: actually, my insecurities (yes, there is more than one!):
1. I simply cannot find my focus. My blog has faltered and is sputtering with its head just barely above water for lack of focus. It's not that I lack content's the focus. I'm an ADD writer...
and, this one may be touching on something a bit more metaphysical than you're used to,
2. I'm afraid of the potential the gift of being a writer suggests, the responsibility, the awesome power of story.

Let me elaborate on that last one a bit. I've been re-reading Madeleine L'Engle's book Walking on Water. It's all about the struggle the artist, the writer has with the gift, the call, of their art. She goes into some pretty deep waters with this book and every time I read it (which is once a year), I walk away with a renewed awe of the writing profession. And a new desire to dive into the untapped waters of story. And a new fear that...

and here's the kicker...

my stories are far more frightening than I initially intended.

I'm not talking about horror frightening (though that's mostly what I write) but that the act of writing, the sheer sitting down and putting pen to paper, words on page, is far more than I can handle! And after I survive THAT, the words that have been set down (no fault of mine of course) are far MORE than I ever intended. Of course, this means I'm responsible for them. And for the repercussions that come from sending them out into the world.

My insecurity? Am I really ready for that?

The blog issue is something I've been battling for years. Since I left a job that chained me to a desk 8+ hours a day, I just haven't seemed to lasso the time to blog consistently. And maybe this issue stems from the other. The content I've considered scares me. It's not all rainbows and butterflies or three steps to getting your novel written. I tend to lean more into the grey areas of life, the "what ifs" and the "I wonders".

I apologize if this post is a downer. That's not my intent. I'm insecure. I'm searching. And I'm beyond tired of learning about the various theories one can read into every novel that is out there (thank you, Lit Theory 300, thank you).

So I ask you: Have you ever really thought about the weighty nature of this calling to write, to create? If so, how do you decide, once and for all, to jump into the storm-tossed seas and see where they take you? And in regards to blogging, how do you really lasso a theme and make it work? Ugh. Told you: the most insecure insecure writer's post yet!

At least for this writer.


  1. I did think about how weighty and important writing was, but frankly, doing that always makes it impossible. Things went better when I loosened up a little and just wrote some deeply silly, not very important things instead.

    I suppose I'm saying stop trying to write something perfect. It only gets in the way.

  2. I have thought about the weighty nature of the calling to write and create, and it scares me a bit too. I wonder if I've thrown too many words out there in the world via blogging, etc. and if it all makes sense or it's just gibberish, if I've squandered this gift.
    Then, I get up and write anyway. I write for the joy of my silly thoughts on paper/screen. I write because I love it. I write because it helps me think things through. I write anyway, and I'm thankful for it.
    As for lassoing a theme - umm, I tried to put all my theme ideas into one big pile and just go with being somewhat random - my blog's about writing, faith, and life and that pretty much encompasses everything (especially the life part).

    One thing I would suggest about the writing worry - if you want to break free of it - is to get a notebook and do some freewriting exercises. You don't have to show them to anyone, but just enjoy the flow of the words. Try writing prompts for fiction, poetry, journal entries, etc, and just write. . . .again, if you want to do that.

    I hope you find freedom and joy in your writing!

  3. Jen, so nice to see you posting. And I so relate to this post. I am afraid of what I am called to do as well. All we can do is keeping putting one toe in front of the other. Notice I didn't say foot!!!

  4. It is a scary business and we writers must be the most insecure, doubting people in the world. Sometimes it takes me hours to get down to writing and I know it's because I'm scared I'm not going to be able to write a word. Stupid, because that doesn't ever happen. Come on, let's take the leap!

  5. Hah! I'm too insecure to think my writing is of a weighty nature. :)

  6. It's totally valid to examine why you write. Some people write commercial fiction for a job, for money. It doesn't mean they don't love it, but it may be more about structuring a story according to their genre (like romance) and getting work out there. For others its far more personal. Maybe what you write will never be published. Maybe you need to write that never-to-be-seen-by-public-eyes book so you can get to another project that's more accessible.

    My husband is a musician, and his struggles with creating art/music are very similar. Some art is so deeply personal that it changes you. I think you need to listen to that voice that tells you to go deeper or darker and see where it goes. It may be what YOU need. There may be a place for that AND writing that you share with others.

  7. Some good advice already so I won't mess it up with anything lame I could offer. There is a place for that darkness though, and it can be very powerful. If it's your strength, use it!

  8. I can relate! I'm currently unemployed at the moment and am taking advantage of the time to blog blog blog.

    Glad to see you around. its been a while since I visited.

  9. well its true...and i have put off getting my book out forever...pulled it out and have been editing for a week now...making progress...there is awesome power in telling stories...but def dont waste it...smiles..

  10. for ME personally, as a creative person, i came to two things.

    1. really truly create for myself first. because i NEED to and i LOVE The Work.
    When I do that, ALL other considerations pale in comparison.

    2. if i do #1 and there is still anxiety around the creative act (even alongside enjoyment), then i'm not on the right path. probably close, but not exact.

    #2 translated for me as writing NF instead of The Novel. And creating art work for enjoyment and not for 'someone might buy this and then i can justify having created it'.

    p.s, i prefer eclectic blogs.... just saying.

  11. Wow, I gotta get that L'Engle book. I do think stories are powerful, powerful, life altering things. But, gah, if I thought about that while writing I'd get completely constipated. On the most basic level, writing for me is a form of entertainment. That's really my first consideration when I write. Is it going to entertain anyone? That isn't as scary a thought for some reason.

  12. Oh yeah! Nothing I have ever written has been done right. Nothing! When I have writer's group friends critique it, it's even worse because then it becomes even less mine. I wrote a story about a woman hiding out in London and as the story evolved, it turned out to be because she had killed her children in a fugue state. Another woman in the writer's group was so upset, I felt shamed into abandoning the piece. It's bad enough dealing with my shrieking banshee of an inner critique without that!

  13. Great post. I solve most things through trial and error.

    "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." ~Winston Churchill

  14. I feel this way often, but I try to remind myself that I am my own worst critic. Thank goodness for CPs and beta readers who point out the good things in my writing and suggest how I can improve the not-so-good things!

  15. Great post. Yes experience teach us things we otherwise wouldn't know.

    All the best!

  16. I think it's safer not to think too deeply about these things.
    Just go with the creative flow...

  17. Stu: Thank you! Sometimes we just have to jump in and do it without thinking too much about it! And trying to be perfect is my downfall. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Tyrean: Thank you so much for the encouragement. I haven't done a regular, freewriting exercise in about a year (during my last Creative Writing class)! It was so freeing and I've let the "business" side of writing clog my mind too much.

    Karen: Nice to see you too! Yes, one toe in front of the other! That's about all I can handle some days :) Thanks for the encouragement!

    Susan: You're so right! The leaping is where it's at. If we're too afraid of not getting anything written, we'll never write anything. The creating comes in the trying. Sometimes, I think it's best if we just start typing and see where our thoughts take us!

    Anita: *smiles* thanks for the laugh!!

    Stephsco: There is tremendous wisdom in what you've written. Honestly, I've often felt that I need to just get a story written and THEN begin writing (if that makes any sense!) I've got such a conglomerate of stories in my head, the best thing for me to do would be to get them out and THEN worry about what to do with them or where they want to go. Thank you!!

    Alex: I sincerely doubt any advice you could offer would be lame. Thank you for the encouragement (as always). There is a place for the darkness as long as it's tempered by the light. It's all about balance and that's what I'm seeking. Thank you!

    Stephen: Good to see you! Thanks for stopping by. Best of luck in the writing and job searching! Boy have my husband and I been through the employed/unemployed circuit waaay too many times for comfort!

    Brian: Thanks! When the fear stops you from doing anything, you know it's a serious problem. That's where I've been. We've just got to get it written and then worry about getting it "right". Don't let fear keep you from accomplishing your goals! Cheers!!

    Monica: Thank you so much! I love this. Anytime there's anxiety involved I step back and ask myself if it's just me being afraid or if there's something deeper involved. Lately, I've been too busy to get quiet enough to hear the truth. Thank you for the encouragement! And I too enjoy eclectic blogs. Thanks for THAT encouragement as well!!

    L.G: The L'Engle book is AMAZING, truly! Thanks for the encouragement. I need to just get off my duff and write! As long as I'm enjoying it, at the beginning, that's all that matters! Cheers!!

    Ms. Sparrow: There are many times I wonder if I'll upset someone with what I write but we can't quell the muse just because it may upset someone. If the story you wrote is about a woman who killed her children, then that's the story you have to write. It's not easy, but as long as it's the true story, and you're true to it, it must be done! Write ON!

    Jenn: Thanks for the Churchill quote! He has some wonderful encouragement! Thank you for the encouragement and for stopping by!

    Meredith: Thank you! I've got to get back into a writing group. I believe that's one thing that makes me feel so weighty about my own writing! ugh. I'm so looking forward to my upcoming break from school! Once my brain can calm down, I'm sure I'll be able to think (and write) better! Thanks for the encouragement!

    Romance Reader-Nas: Thanks so much! If we don't write, we can't learn what we're all about. Yes, experience teaches us so much! Thank you!

    Michelle: Your advice sums it all up! There's nothing wrong with contemplating the deeper things, but when it paralyzes me then I've got to realize I'm in too deep and need to swim back to the surface. If I don't get the surface story written, I can never dive deeper if I need to. Thank you!!


Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.