Monday, September 3, 2012

Ways to Become an Insecure Writer

Start Querying:
  • Don't write anything while waiting for a response.
  • Check your email every five minutes.
  • Question everything you've written in the manuscript, the query letter and everything else you've written over the expanse of your entire life.
  • Take the first form letter rejection to mean your work is no good and must be tweaked, or better yet, tossed.
Read only the bad reviews:
  • Read those bad reviews just before going to bed at night. 
  • And again first thing after waking up in the morning.
  • Check every five minutes for the number of sales, likes, and reviews. If they haven't gone up since the last time you checked, then that means you're a failure.
  • Ignore the good reviews, because really, what do those reviewers know?
Compare your work to others:
  • Compare your first draft to a polished classic.
  • Strive to write like your favourite authors, even if it means sacrificing your own voice and story.
  • Expect your work to become an overnight success, just like the Greats.
Measure your success by others:
  • Choose the big names like J K Rowling or Stephen King.
  • Or choose one of those authors who claim they got an agent on their first manuscript, which took them only a month to write, during a snow storm, using nothing but crayons on tissue paper.
Keep yourself in isolation:
  • Don't join supportive writing groups, such as The Insecure Writers' Support Group. Those kinds of groups will only give you encouragement and before you know it, you'll no longer be insecure.

Can you think of other ways to become an insecure writer? Which way works best for you?

--
If you haven't guessed already, this post was written for the Insecure Writers' Support Group, founded by Alex J Cavanaugh. Members of this group post on the first Wednesday of every month. I'm posting a tad early because I like to be a rebel.

#IWSG


T F Walsh tagged me last week in a LOOK challenge where I'm supposed to post a portion of my WIP containing the word look. Continuing the rebel theme, I've instead written a classy sentence for this challenge: Bob looked lonesome as he looked out from the lookout overlooking Look Bay.
Feel free to improve on that sentence.


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104 comments:

  1. I think that a lot of authors judge themselves too much by their stats and can become too focussed on the numbers rather than the overall reception of their book. I'd probably be in the camp that would check email every five minutes when querying too.

    Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom

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  2. I agree that it's important not to compare yourself to others, especially authors who have achieved mega successes. I think a lot of the insecurities people have as writers stem from expecting their journey to be one way, and only that one way, as opposed to the way it really is.

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  3. I'm ashamed to admit I'm guilty of a couple of these things. This was a much-needed reality check. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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  4. I do not consider myself a writer but I found your post very interesting.

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  5. LOL. This is awesome. I should print it and tape it next to my monitor. =)

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  6. Don't touch that sentence about Bob! It's perfect.

    Thank you for this post, Lynnie. Girl thinks she will bookmark it.

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  7. I may be guilty of sending the query then immediately refreshing my inbox. You know, just checking. :) fun post.

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  8. Some of these points sound familiar haha. Excellent post :)

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  9. LOL, this post has me pegged. I've done it all throughout my many writing years.

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  10. I am so guilty of so many of those! Trying hard not to be and the longer I write the easier it gets but still . . .

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  11. speaking of comparing someone's own work with classics, I've recently read a string of comments at some book site where under Bram Stoker's DRACULA you could see comments such as - This book is total rubbish, and nowhere like TWILIGHT. He should've read TWILIGHT and learned something....
    I swear I thought about killing myself on the spot!

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    1. Your comment cracked me up. It can be painful sometimes, but how cool would it be to get that kind of support from your readers as Twilight did? ;)

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  12. Those are hilarious, Lynda! With crayons in s snowstorm...

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  13. Oh golly but I admit to all these!! LOL!

    Take care
    x

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  14. These are great! And when written down and then read, they seem so silly. Why do we let them prey on us?

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  15. Yes, I would like to point out that I have checked off one of each of those points at some point but it wasn't pointless to learn how to cross them off ;)
    Great post!

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  16. Hi, Lynda,
    Your post shows just how much we can do be productive and boy, you've condemned Bob to some serious looking, lol.

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  17. Ha! I shouldn't be laughing, but I can't help it. Thanks, Lynda!

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  18. I think bad reviews will make me cry...

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  19. I'm afraid that I may do a few of these things. Hmmm...

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  20. Yikes, guilty as charged with a couple of these! Thanks Lynda.

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  21. I go through insecure moments/seasons. The best thing to do to defeat it is to keep writing. Great post, Lynda!

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  22. I am going to try to avoid these, but some are difficult not to.


    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  23. Funny! I'm sure we all do at least some of these things.

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  24. Unfortunately, I think I have these down. I have never posted for IWSG but I have considered it. Maybe now is the time

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  25. I hear you on constantly checking emails. It won't make the responses come any quicker!

    My latest bout of insecurity came yesterday when several people commented on a mock cover I posted on Facebook a few months ago. They loved it. You're probably asking why would that make you insecure? Well, the novel is just an idea at the moment and not the one I'm writing. I spent a few hours questioning my choice. Then I reminded myself it's just a mock cover and not the fully plotted novel I'm writing.

    Great post!

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  26. Oh, just go ahead and be early, then. Show-off! I've thought about my insecurities, but haven't written them down. So, looks like I'm following one of the first things on your "advice" column. Don't write. Good grief! What a busy summer this has been. Time to get down to business. School starts tomorrow. Whoo Hoo!

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    1. Have fun getting down to business. Winter is ending here... eek, I must keep up the writing momentum despite the warm weather beckoning.

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  27. I think I recognize myself in every single one of those except the last one. I was smart enough to hook up with some really smart and supportive people in the blogosphere. :)))

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  28. That is an excellent list. I'm not querying yet and don't have anything published, but I definitely relate to the others!

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  29. Lynda you totally cracked me up! Especially this part: "authors who claim they got an agent on their first manuscript, which took them only a month to write, during a snow storm, using nothing but crayons on tissue paper." ROFL

    Sad to say but I do half the things you mentioned. It's a wonder I can even get out of bed in the mornings. But I do it!! (After all, if I don't check my inbox for new rejections, who will?)

    Loved your post! :-D

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    1. Ah, there's another one! Stay in bed because you might not be able to write today.

      Lauren

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    2. Lexa, lol, now there's a reason to get out of bed!

      Lauren, so funny.

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  30. Made me laugh since I'm guilty of so many of those...hehe

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  31. This made me laugh. I need to print it out or something. Great post and nice sentence. :D

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  32. Great post, Lynda.
    I always refer to myself as a writer-in-the-making. Whether I "make it" or not, is an entirely different story.LOL. Who decides this anyway? Me? The readers?

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    1. As Hamlet would say, 'now there's the rub'.
      What can we measure our success by? This is different for everyone. Some believe they aren't successful until they hit the bestsellers' lists. Others believe they are successful just by finishing the first draft. In my opinion, only you can truly decide.

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  33. Thanks for reminding me of the Insecure Writers Group! This week I read some reviews posted on another blogger's book that was just recently released. There were several negative ones that were scathing and personal. I told my husband if my book gets out there someday I would probably do exactly what you described! Focus on the negative. There has to be a better way :)

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  34. Feeling as though you are required to write in the current popular genre, instead of your own...

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    1. yes! That's another good one to add to the list.

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  35. That first one is so important - having a current project definitely eases the pain of rejection.

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  36. And once again...if you aim for your foot, you can't be blamed for failing to hit the moon.

    You talked about setting your standards (way too) high, but another one would be set your standards so low you know you can hit your goal. Setting a goal of 2 minutes of writing or 50 words, for example.

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  37. I'm trying again to leave comment. Think Google is acting up. Lynda, your points were terrific. I could relate to each at one time or another.

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    1. nooooooooooooooooo! Silly Google/Blogger. At least Blogger tends to fix their problems somewhat quickly.

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  38. I like how you talk about not sacrificing how you write because of someone else's success. A very important reminder. Thank you Lynda - you rebel! =)

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  39. Haha! I started reading the post without looking at the title. I thought, what the heck is she talking about?

    Yes - what NOT to do!

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  40. Check your Amazon stats several times a day ... :) Disregard your instincts in favor of bad advice. It may be good advice for some, but keep in mind your genre and your audience.

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  41. These are hilarious, Lynda! I particularly enjoyed "Read only the bad reviews: Read those bad reviews just before going to bed at night. And again first thing after waking up in the morning."

    That sounds like something I'd do. I tend to rather obsessively read the negative parts of critiques, but at least I think I'm pretty decent at picking out what is useful and what is "Oh, well, that person is probably not the intended audience."

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  42. Oh you make me smile! This applies to painting/songwriting/theatre.... all the arts. Great post!

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    1. Us artistic types are cursed that way ;)

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  43. Hehe

    Another could be ... Listen to your mother who thinks fiction is just a waste of time

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  44. Great insights. Your sales stats when you are first starting out and don't have a readership base are going to be completely different than they will be after 3, 7 or 10 books. Build it (a.k.a. write it) authentically, and they will come. Don't forget to republish your books so each book has live links to your other titles.

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  45. I relate to your comment, Michelle. My father told me on his deathbed that it was too 'late' for me to become an author. Two books are live with six more planned. It might be advisable for those who know nothing about authors, publishers or writing to keep it that way. Of for those critics who 'know it all' to let honest creative expression take its course. Don't let the nasty voices take over your creative process - ever.

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  46. Great list! I also started reading without looking at title and then- What?!

    Then I saw the title and haha...

    Nas

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  47. "Or choose one of those authors who claim they got an agent on their first manuscript, which took them only a month to write, during a snow storm, using nothing but crayons on tissue paper."

    Hah! Great post, Lynda! I must tweet about it. :)

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  48. Lynda, you are TOO AWESOME... Hahaha! The "Measure your success by others" was my favorite. It's sooooo true. :)

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  49. Lynda, you rebel you!

    This made me laugh. All the worse things you can possibly do as a writer are in this list. How did you remember them all? is my question. I'm guessing you haven't done much of this stuff in a long time.

    Jai

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    1. you might be surprised...
      Deep down inside I'm a bundled up bunny of insecurities ;)

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  50. Haha! Great post, Lynda! But truly, I think insecurity & being a writer go hand-in-hand, at least at some point.

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  51. Yeah, I think most/all writers are insecure and we're bluffing if we deny this. Even Stephen King worries about what his readers write to him about - oh, they discovered that plot hole he hoped no one would notice! Join the club Stephen!
    Great post Lynda...

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  52. Another idea? Wander around the house thinking about what a lousy writer you must be.

    Good list, Lynda. I am determined not to be one. :)

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  53. HA!! This was great. Thank so much. This made me smile.

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  54. Lol. Sometimes we need a post like this for us to realize what we're doing wrong.

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  55. Ahh! Reading bad reviews before going to bed at night is giving me nightmares just thinking about it!

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  56. Oh, man, Lynda! I think you've hit every single one here--and I'm so glad to know it's not just me! LOL! When I'm feeling my worst about writing, it's usually b/c I've done one of these (or all). ((hugs))

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  57. Lynda, did you by any chance peak into my mind when you wrote this post. Very wicked of you to reveal my thoughts to the world. I thought that we were friends. And you do this to me ;)

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    1. will you forgive me? I couldn't help myself. ;)

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  58. Surely crayons are the best way to write anything?

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  59. You're not only a rebel, Lynda...you're a funny rebel! Thanks!

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  60. So if I stop doing all of these things I'll be cured? I'm going to give them a try!

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  61. Another way to become an insecure writer is don't tell people you write. Because really, what business do you have to say it if you're not published?

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    1. lol, Theresa, that's a great one to add!

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  62. Ah, I see I'm going about it all right to be insecure then! (j/k)

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  63. I don't do any of these with my blog posts so I guess I'm off to a good start?

    I'd add "Belief that you'll never achieve the same amount of success with prior works" to that list. I know some people like that.

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  64. I'd leave a comment, but I have to check my email to see if any editors have sent me a response to my last query...

    LOL! Great reminder of what not to do, Lynda.

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  65. This post made me laugh, especially the look sentence. I can see Look Bay.

    However, aren't we supposed to question what we write, to see how it can be improved? Other than that, spot on!

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    1. Questioning our writing in a way that aids clear-headed analysis? YES!

      Questioning our writing in a way that doesn't help the mental state of the writer? NO!
      Example: My writing sucks. It has always sucked. It will always suck. I should quit now. ;)

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  66. Hi, Lynda,

    Very clever... Enjoyed your post. I can honestly say we have ALL been there.

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  67. So very true! Comparing to JK Rowling has got to be one of the worst ways to make yourself feel bad.

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  68. I think my favorite is starting a new project every time you have a new idea and then wondering why you never have anything finished to show.

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  69. My insecurity leads me to hardly ever speak about my writing to promote my books. I have to be pushed aqnd cajoled along the way with promo. I do do it but shyly!!

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  70. These are all so true! And I bet most of us at some point or other have experienced one or more of those debilitating traits.

    And to remind us there's this wonderful quote from Isaac Asimov: You must keep sending work out: you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its heart off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist.

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  71. They are definitely ways to become insecure. My favorite is reviews and checking sales numbers. It can be depressing. Heh.

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  72. I'm guilty of some of these things. It's normal, but we must rise above these insecurities.

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  73. I think I pay too much attention to reviews and keep isolated (a lot).
    All of the above though are very true for many writers.

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  75. My book just received a bad review. I didn't read the whole thing, but it did make me insecure. A few tears may have been involved.

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  76. Hi Lynda,
    I have always enjoyed your insigtful advice, for this reason I have decided to nominate your for the One Lovely Blogger Award:
    http://rita.crowdedminds.com/my-very-first-blogging-award/

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  77. Ha! So true! I'm querying, and am working on 3 stories plus training for a half marathon to keep me distracted. :)

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  78. Hee hee. You totally nailed it. I'm still laughing about this:

    "Or choose one of those authors who claim they got an agent on their first manuscript, which took them only a month to write, during a snow storm, using nothing but crayons on tissue paper."

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  79. LOL! That so sounds like the me of old. I'm trying to improve. Great post.

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  80. I did that as a Newbie, but I'm so busy now I kind of brush things off. Like, oh, reject? I forgot I'd sent that. :)

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  81. I think it's in the nature of a writer to be a little bit insecure... The best thing to do (I find) is concentrate on your next book rather than dwelling on sales, bad reviews etc. Saying that, when I'm having a particularly bad day I allow myself ten minutes to feel sorry for myself then force myself to get on with something useful!

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.