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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » A Writer's Insecurities

Author Topic: A Writer's Insecurities
Member # 593

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I write something, and I feel it is well-written, beautiful, meaningful. The story is exciting and wonderful. As I create in my mind, the words flow and the story is compelling.

The next day I go back and reread my work. It lies there on the double-spaced page, flat and childish. I wonder if anyone would ever find meaning in such drivel. I wonder how this collection of words could be considered worthy of publication. Is this story appealing in the slightest?

My writer's group hasn't been officially started up yet, so my feedback is limited to family (like they're going to tell me honestly that my work sucks) and a few friends (who might be honest, but also not understanding that it is still work in progress). I am really eager to get feedback from other writers. I'm also scared to death.

Anybody else ever feel this way about their work? The really scary thing is that I feel I Am A Writer, and therefore must continue writing for the rest of my life. What if my writing always sucks? Am I doomed to a life of writing things that seem brilliant when I think of them and then are lackluster when they are read? I really hope I'm being too hard on myself.

So, anyone else have these emotions? Also, what other insecurities does one face as a writer?

Posts: 26 | Registered: Jul 2000  | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 462

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I have been writing for 20+ years. When I first started I tought everything I worte was golden----know what?---it wasn't. BUt I couldn't see it because I thought my work was soooooo gooooddddd.

My first rejection slip just about kiled me. The next and the next and the next made me mad. What do these idiots know!!! Then I actually quiit writng for some time because I went through a phase of I must realy stink at this writing thing.

A few years ago (more than a few) I got out that old writing that I thought was so great and ROFLMAO---it was so awfull! I started writing again and experianced that same high on myself while I was writing it but the next day I was back to this sucks.

Not every writer feels that way. I think tough that it is a good way to feel. NOw I can look at it with a critical eye and rip and shred until I get it to the point where I sit back an go ahhhh this is good. And I think that now it really is the best that I can do when I get to that point.

There are still things that will set me off in a critique and I need to work on that one. I just joined a new writers group that has not started exchanging things yet, I have sent my letter of intro out but not recived any others back yet---I am nervous, I am scared to death of what they are going to say. That's normal!

Your writing is your baby---you are letting others see it and you are afraid that soemone is going to look in the carriage and say oh my what an ugly baby. Hopefully they will say things which are helpful and in a nice way.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Member # 59

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My take on the "my writing is awful" syndome is that your critical skills are further along than your writing skills. If you keep working at it, the writing skills will catch up--for a while.

It's very normal to hate your work. Even if your writing skills and critical skills are equal, you can experience the famous "editor on the shoulder" attacks as well.

One thing that might help here is to remember that "this, too, shall pass" and keep working. Another thing to remember is that it's okay if something is bad to start with. Give yourself time to learn rewriting skills to go along with the writing and the critical skills.

One other thing to consider is that there is a difference between the story in your head and the writing there on the paper. The writing on the paper will never be a wonderful as the story in your head; but, with the help of feedback, you can figure out how to make the writing work better at recreating the story in the reader's head.

So, in a sense, the writing really isn't your baby. It's just marks on paper that are trying to describe the real baby: the story in your head.

Don't take it personally if the marks on paper don't quite work (even if you yourself are the one they don't work for). Allow for that, keep working, get feedback, figure out how to use that feedback, and improve the marks on paper until they do your baby, your story, the justice it deserves.

And remember, some stories are so wonderful, no marks on paper are ever going to do them full justice.

You just keep working at it and do the best you can.

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Member # 213

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Yeah, my critical skills were always so far ahead of my writing skills that I never, ever, in my whole life, thought when I was actually writing something that it was any good at all. I really couldn't become a writer at all until I learned how to use a word processor, and the very first key that I learned to use was the backspace.

I have the opposite experience, I read stuff that I thought at the time was just so worthless and realize that I was being overly critical. Of course, I always want to edit it (if I can, there are some things that I no longer understand well enough to edit, like poetry, I can criticize it, but I can't write it anymore), but I don't feel ashamed of having written it.

So, you just have to realize that the first draft is just that, a first draft. When I write in my normal setting (i.e. using a computer) the first complete draft is actually the fourth or fifth draft, because of how much I edit the language as I put it down. And that draft is never the final draft, unless I'm deliberately going for a conversational style that ignores certain conventions that I usually like to implement in my writing (for instance, I try to post with a certain degree of spontenaity, much of it is calculated, but some of it is genuine).

Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999  | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 132

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There is also a disconnect between what gets published and what is good. Don't let the rejection slips get to you. Keep at it. Some of my favorite authors don't actually write very well, but they tell a good story. That is a more subtle skill, but a skill nonetheless. One that can be improved with practice.
Posts: 303 | Registered: Feb 1999  | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 390

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When I started writing, about three years ago, the stories in my head were so beautiful that I was sure the finished paper product would be as great as anything ever written. Of course, with age and experience I know better now, but I still feel that feeling of angst when I read a story I wrote and it does not connect with me the way I thought it should.

I just my progress as a writer by only one measure: Is this work as good or better than the one before?

The answer I alway find is yes. And even if the story isn't good, isn't well written, I feel I have done something great, because I have grown as a writer.

Posts: 473 | Registered: Feb 2000  | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 593

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Perhaps the third reading was the most truthful - I thought, ah, there is a story here, but it is most definitely a First Draft. It needs work.

That is not so intimidating.

Another thing that struck me for the first time - I found that I have a Voice! I just sat down and read all the work I have so far (a finished first draft of a super-short story, a short story without an ending, and my novel chapters/scenes). I read it cold, with a clear mind. All of it definitely needed work, but in each of them, I could hear my own voice. Wow. And I realized that it is this voice which will make my stories unique. Readers will either respond to this voice or shelve it. It made me feel rather giddy.

I don't know what makes my voice - well, my voice. All I know is that it is there. I'm getting very antsy for my group to start up <grin>. I'm writing away madly in the middle of the night and I could use the feedback.

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Hanrod Brightstar
Member # 656

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I feel many of the same things you do (and the replies that have been posted indicate you and I aren't alone...). I don't have a lot to add except don't give up. I can tell from your questions that you are intelligent, and seem to have the necessary passion for it. Intelligent people learn as they go. They get better at whatever it is they are trying to do. I'm sure the same will happen to you.
Posts: 14 | Registered: Sep 2000  | Report this post to a Moderator

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