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Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Musings on Writerly Insecurity

Well, it's that time in the publishing process again. Advance copies of my next book, FAST FICTION, have gone out, and I'm panicking because what if it's not actually well-written or insightful or even readable? Despite the fact that I've already received several endorsements from authors I respect, honestly, the thoughts that go through my head daily range from "YAY, a good blurb! Maybe the book is actually good!" to..."This person is probably just being nice." to... "What on earth makes you think you're some kind of writing expert, Denise?"

Nothing. That's the answer. I never said I was a writing expert. The voices in my head just come in and try to trick me into thinking I did! I know I'm not alone. Stephanie Perkins's recent honest post about the voices in her head is great evidence of that. Plus, almost every day I talk to writers who are facing insecurity about their writing for one reason or another.

So what to do about it? That is the question.

In the past, I've done a few things: I've regularly talked to other writers about my insecurity. This is a HUGE help, because right away I'm reminded that I'm really far from alone in this horrible emotional state. Besides that, writers KNOW what to say to other writers.

Another thing I've done in the past is spent some time on GoodReads. I know what you're thinking...isn't that COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to finding any kind of security? But, no, I don't go on there to look up my own books. Instead, I head on over there and look up some of my favorite books. Then I scroll down to find the one-star reviews. Of course I completely disagree with these people who obviously don't know what they're talking about. But seriously, the whole process is a great reminder for me of how subjective the reading process really is. No book pleases everybody.

One other thing I've done for many years now is keep a "Happy Emails" file in my email program. Anything good and positive that makes me smile gets filed away in there. When I need a reminder that my writing has been enjoyed by some people out there, I head over there and re-read a few emails (these are from readers, yes, but also from friends and critique partners, and many of these date back to before any of my books were published).

Besides the above things, here is what else I've been doing lately: I've been reminding myself why I wrote FAST FICTION. With my other non-fiction writing book, WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART, the book grew out of a workshop presentation I had put together, and then got expanded on exponentially when I experienced a great deal of grief in my life. It was a very personal book, and I remember saying after I published it, "No, I'm not really a non-fiction writer. I doubt I'll ever write another non-fiction book. This one just came from a special place in my life and my heart."

But, of course, that wasn't the case. With FAST FICTION, as the title suggests, the idea and structure of the whole book hit me very suddenly. I based the whole thing off of my own experience in fast drafting and what has worked for me, as well as fast-drafting successes and failures that I've discussed with writer friends. From the very beginning, I knew there are many methods to drafting a book, and what I was writing would only be one of them. I hope it will be helpful to a lot of people, but I knew from the onset that it probably won't be for everyone. However, I used the actual laid-out plan of FAST FICTION for my own #NaNoWriMo project this year, and I had hit 50-thousand words by November 16 - my fastest year yet! And I'm happy with the story I just wrote.

So, yes, there are ups and downs. If we are going to put our writing out there for others to read, there will always be ups and downs. There will always be subjectivity. There will always be outside forces that threaten to come in and shake up our view of ourselves, our giftings, and our purposes in the writing world. This is just how I'm dealing with far.

I'd love to hear thoughts from other writers on this, because I know from experience that this is just the beginning of the insecurity I will face with each book..

So how do you deal with writerly insecurity? Please, please, please share all of your tips and tricks!

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