Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hello my name is Jen, and I'm an Insecure Writer

Maybe there are some writers who are born with an innate ability to not care what other people think about them. I, however, was not one of them. Every time I sit down to write, either creatively or academically, I am concerned with exactly how I sound to someone else's ear.

Was that phrase too archaic?
Did that word make sense?
Is my character insane and, if so, should I care?

I'm always second guessing my writing, heck, I've always second guessed my life.

Until recently.

I'm in the final year of pursuing a degree I started 16 years ago. A Bachelor's. According to "everyone" I should already have that, already have several degrees. But I don't. I stopped, I started, I stopped again. And here I am, thirty-something and still in pursuit of that first degree. And I'm ok with that. Really. I can see now that to finish what you start is really the goal. Once I achieve this educational goal, I can move forward to the others. It doesn't matter if people think I'm lazy or easily distracted because I wasn't able to settle for one program of study until now. I matters that I know where I'm headed and that I take the steps necessary to get there.

The same is with writing. I can't worry too much about what other people say, that I should already be finished with that darn novel I started ten years ago (yes, that novel does exist, on a shelf...somewhere). I shouldn't care that the story I'm working on now has nothing to which I can compare it. And I shouldn't care if people question me about my writing and I have no other answer than to show them a stack of red-marked papers and grin.

"It's none of their business that you have to learn how to write," Papa Hemingway said. "Let them think you were born that way."

I love to read Hemingway's quotes when I'm feeling down about my own writing, when I'm insecure in the path I've chosen. I'm sure he had his moments of doubt, but his strength is what shines because he wrote from a place deep within that we all, as writers, must go: the very heart of his passion. A passion for words and story.

Insecure or not, I must get to that place. That's where I must go. And it doesn't matter if those around me understand or agree. It matters that I see the vision to the end.

Now, go forth and be FABULOUS!

**This post was for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group.


  1. That Hemingway quote is awesome! Good for you for doing what's right for you and for finding the path you want to be on!

  2. If we don't write for us first, it won't matter what others think!

  3. What a wonderful place to be! Sometimes I truly believe that I don't care what other people think, but then something happens that destroys that opinion of myself. I hope it lasts for you! Good luck!

  4. I know plenty of people that finished their degrees in their 30's and 40's. Don't let anyone tell you there's anything wrong with that. People that don't write don't get the urge. I have learned to avoid discussing it with people who don't get it. Good luck!

  5. Hemingway quotes are awesome. Insecurity pushes me - makes me try harder. Good luck and enjoy!

  6. Great post, Jen! The other week I decided to go back to how I wrote when I first started - that I absolutely love this and I don't care about anything or anyone beyond what I'm doing right now. It was one of the best writing days I'd had in a long time. I just wrote what I felt worked for the story and silenced all those naysayers in my head.

    You can do it!

  7. This is a great entry. I know exactly how you feel. And, I'm so proud of you for pursuing your degree and continuing to create and write despite the voices! Or, maybe it's because of the voices. I think they are different voices.

    Did you hear something?

  8. I compare myself to other writers and bloggers out there all the time. The only place it gets me is depressed. I've also realized that to really focus on my fiction, I need to disconnect from the outside world. It's a bit scary. I'm afraid my friends will hate me and that no one will follow my blog. But, it's the only way I can get to "the very heart" of my passion. Good luck!

  9. If we worried too much about what everybody else thought then we'd probably never do much of anything, but it's a good idea to rationally consider what potential customers might think about our products. Screw the naysayers. If we're pleased then some others are bound to be pleased.

    Tossing It Out

  10. Yes, keeping an eye on the end goal is key to staying motivated.

  11. LOVE that quote!

    And I'm totally pickin' up what you're puttin' down there. I feel this way ALL the time! I've always enjoyed writing, but I feel like since I didn't get "hard core" about it til a few years ago, that I somehow have to justify the time I spend doing it.


    You (and Hemingway) are brilliant. I shall now go forth trying NOT to feel small and insecure against all those writers who have been plunking away at their manuscripts for the last two decades. [Key word being TRY] Haha!

    P.s. New stalker alert!!

  12. I can relate so. very. much. I was just saying to my husband this morning how discouraging it is to be writing all the time and not really feel that it's "real" work because no one is, well, buying it. He says to just keep plugging away and "it will come." I hope he is right....


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.