How I’m Handling My Writing Insecurities (And How You Can Too)

insecure-writer-photo

Me during a typical writing session.

For me, being a writer and being insecure about my writing have always gone hand in hand. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have this feeling, even in my younger years when I was convinced I’d be a world renowned author at the age of twelve and would charm millions when I finally appeared on Oprah for my first interview (for some reason, this seemed like the pinnacle of success to me… my mom’s love of her may have had something to do with it).

But despite this childlike confidence, and despite my parents’ constant and unwavering support and encouragement, I’d already developed doubts about my writing. Even before I was conscious of how hostile the world could be for dreamers and decided to actively pursue crushing my dreams myself, I already suspected that maybe my writing was actually no good at all, and possibly wouldn’t ever be. The seed of insecurity was planted deep inside me early on, and has only grown since then.

It’s something that’s kept me from pursuing both creative and non-creative opportunities by creating excuse after excuse to justify why I don’t go after the things I want. It’s stopped me from continuing projects, made me immediately doubt ideas I once thought were good, and has caused me to curl up on the bed one too many times sobbing about how pathetic I am. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s become a much too predictable cycle in my life.

The thing is, I have more writing goals this year than I do time for me to let insecurity further derail my writing. I have a novel to edit, short stories and a novella to write, two blogs to keep up, and a hopeful career change that hinges on many of the above. So I can’t let my insecurity put me on an undisclosed hiatus anymore. I’ve got to put an end to this. And if not end it (because, let’s be honest, these things don’t just happen overnight), then to at least figure out how to get a handle on it.

Am I alone in this? I hope not. In fact, if you’ve read this far, I suspect maybe you have a similar problem and are looking to remedy it as well (and if not, you can continue shaking your head in amusement at my struggles. I don’t mind). If you are a fellow insecure writer, you are completely welcome here, and I propose we try to work through this together. How? Well, I can’t say for certain, but I’ve got a few ideas, and maybe they’ll work for you too.

The first step I’m taking is to own up to this insecurity. As a writer, I’m insecure as fuck and I hold on to this insecurity and cradle it close to me like a security blanket. A symptom of my insecurity is perfectionism, which tends to be my excuse of choice. Because if I’m a perfectionist, then I just want everything to be perfect, but my insecurity tells me that nothing I ever make will be perfect. They feed off of one another.  It’s no good. But I now acknowledge that I do this and by identifying it I can begin to correct it.

The second step is to set goals that you feel you absolutely need to reach. The goals I’ve set this year are two goals I’ve had every year for the past 2 or 3 years. At this point, I’ve failed them so many times that it’s almost physically painful every time I have to come back and start over again with the same goals. I hate the feeling of defeat I have every time I realize it’s time to begin again. So I’m going to hold tight to that feeling and use it to push me through and past this insecurity that has been weighing me down.

And then the third and final step I’m taking: I want to stop assuming that everything I create has to be great, and start treating everything as an experiment. Insecurity is annoying but effective because it paralyzes you until you feel like you can’t do anything, and when you’re not doing anything, when you’re not creating and writing and especially when you’re not and you see other people doing it, that only makes you feel more insecure, and then the vicious cycle begins again. So I want to stop caring, start acting as if I’m learning as I go (because I am), and keep on creating without abandon. The point is, I may be insecure about my writing, but I’m not going to let it own me. Fuck insecurity. I’ve got too much I want to do with my writing, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to talk myself out of it.

So how about you? Do you consider yourself an insecure writer? And if so, how do you handle it? And if not, can you share a bit of confidence with the rest of us? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading, and here’s to kicking insecurity’s ass.

Image found here.

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2 thoughts on “How I’m Handling My Writing Insecurities (And How You Can Too)

  1. MaggyWrites says:

    Yes, yes, and YES! You are not alone in this. Sometimes I wonder if I’m secretly a masochist (not the sexy kind, unfortunately) because of how much hell I’ll put myself through to do this thing I love.
    You’re so right about the goals, I set them & fail repeatedly, but it does offer accountability.
    And I, too, have found that treating each project, or even each scene, like some weirdo experiment helps immensely. Taking myself less seriously lends my work a more authentic feel than if I were to pound out what I hoped were The World’s Greatest Sentences.
    Overcoming the insecurity & being able to read your own work without this look coming over your face like you smelled something rotten…. that shit takes time!
    Good luck to you, and know I am right there with you in your struggles.

    • chelseareana says:

      Haha I wonder the same thing! Maybe all of us writers are a bit masochistic. It’s hard when you are your own toughest critic and that critic just happens to be an asshole. Sigh… but I’m sure we’ll overcome it somehow. It’s so nice knowing I’m not alone in this! Here’s to someday being able to take a much more honest approach to our work instead of constantly telling ourselves we’re the worse. 🙂

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