This is my first month participating in this blog hope, although I’ve been part of the Facebook group for a while. I think the title is pretty self-explanatory. Writers are an insecure, neurotic bunch- I tell myself that’s what makes us “artistic.” On the first Wednesday of every month, a bunch of bloggers write posts about being insecure and then we all go around commiserating with each other. I decided that’s exactly what I need. You can read all about it on this website.
My problem now is where to start. So many insecurities, so little time! And while it’s nice to get support, I also don’t want to spend an undue amount of time dwelling on the bad stuff. So maybe I’ll start by listing my most typical insecurities and how I deal with them. The first one is also the worst.
1. I am not and never will be GOOD ENOUGH.
In my case, I don’t really know where this comes from, except for perhaps an innate perfectionism. I was the kid who cried if I got a “B” in school, putting my parents in the enviable position of assuring me that it was okay to not be perfect all the time. In fact, I really can’t blame any of this on my parents. They were always completely loving and supportive and assured me that I was talented and amazing and so on. Except maybe I didn’t believe them. I continued to get positive reinforcement just about everywhere, but it still wasn’t enough. I guess I wasn’t looking for good enough; I was looking for GENIUS. Which I’m clearly not, and am very sad about.
How do I deal with this?
I tell myself that being my own worst critic is great. It’s much better than having someone else fill that role- especially a loved one.
I tell myself that this is what spurs me to improve all the time, rather than settling for mediocrity. Though I still worry that I’m mediocre. SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP inner critic!
I tell myself that writing is just as much craft as it is art, which means it can be learned, and I learn more every day.
I tell myself that while I might not be a genius, I do have some talent. I don’t really recognize it in myself, but other people seem to, and it’s not nice to call them liars. Yeah, I’m a hard case.
2. Soooo many people are better writers than I am. This makes it hard to read good books because I keep comparing myself unfavorably to the author.
How do I deal with this?
I remind myself that I’m looking at a finished product. It’s immensely comforting to read -often in acknowledgments or an afterword- the hell that the writer went through to complete this work and how many people were involved. Sometimes legions of beta readers, proofreaders, critique partners and editors of all kinds. Right now, it’s just me, and I’m doing all right. I am, really!
I also remind myself that tastes differ. I might ooh and ah over someone’s lengthy, gorgeous descriptive passages, and then find that others are unimpressed, or flat-out bored. Even War and Peace gets bad reviews. I don’t need everyone to love what I do. I won’t lie- I WANT everyone to love what I do, even while I understand that’s unrealistic.
3. I am not creative or artistic. I got this into my head long ago and again, I don’t know where it came from. Probably from comparing myself to others. Some people generate plots and stories constantly without any effort at all. Some people convey images and emotion in lyrical and imaginative ways. Not me.
How I deal with this?
I write more. The more I write, the more ideas I have. A lot of practice makes me better at conveying them. I’m beginning to understand that creativity is a muscle that needs exercise to grow. I also understand that artistry is pretty subjective too, and again, a mixture of craft and talent. I can work on the craft, and I can do my best to believe others when they tell me I have talent.
I read books on writing. For the last year, there has not been a time that I haven’t been reading a book about writing. At first I got overwhelmed, feeling I needed to follow all of the rules, but then I realized that there are as many ways of writing as there are writers. I’m getting better and better at picking out the things that are helpful to me and ignoring the rest. The helpful things have been many, and have also shown me that lot of what I thought was a matter of genius is simply a matter of understanding and execution of technique. And much of that can be achieved with practice.
Whew. That’s enough insecurity for one day! Do any of these strike a chord with you?