Dealing With Writing Insecurity

This topic has been weighing on me for a while now. I try to keep my posts relatively upbeat – even when I’m wrangling with my story — but now that I’ve finished my latest draft, I finally have the energy to tackle this subject.

So, so, so… I noticed while I was working on my latest draft that I’ve been disengaging with the writing and reading communities. It didn’t just happen recently either. It’s been happening since I embarked on writing my novel, and I just wasn’t overtly aware of my reactions until now. I find it such an counter-intuitive behaviour, considering the number of times I complained about how isolating writing is.

At first, I didn’t even think there was a problem. After all, I have this WordPress blog and a Tumblr account where I give writing updates. I have friends to whom I regularly talk about my novel, and who share their writing with me too. And whenever I see writeblrs on Tumblr, I get a very strong urge to reblog their posts or engage in their writing memes. Whenever I hear about writing groups, I get a spark of excitement.

But at the end of the day, I don’t introduce myself to any of the writeblrs I find. I never join a writing group, even the ones highly recommended by trusted friends. It seemed like I was only excited about joining these groups in theory, but not in practice.

Then I realized the difference between writing on my blogs and mingling in a community. In communities, I can’t just talk about me and my WIP. I actually have to be proactive with other participants, and hear about them and their work. In a writing community, I am exposed to the works and efforts of so many other people. And that’s when my brain starts its awful chatter.

There’s this unavoidable voice in my head that compares my work to theirs. If I see someone writing something very different from my story, my brain goes, “Oh look, their idea is so much better. It’s so much more current and marketable.” If I see someone writing something similar to mine, my brain goes, “Oh boy, there’s only one space in the market for that kind of idea, and you have no chance of filling that spot.” If there’s someone who’s ahead in the writing process, I’d think, “Wow, I’m so lazy. I can’t believe I’m only still in the drafting stages. This person is 10 years younger than me, and they already have 2 books out!” And if there’s someone who’s still in the brainstorming stage, I feel threatened by their potential.

It’s gotten to a point where sometimes I’m even too uncomfortable to go on Goodreads. When I see all new releases, my brain scolds me that I should have finished my story by now. That I’m either not writing about the same trends as these books do, or that I’m writing something completely cliche. I don’t know how my brain manages to think that at the same time, but there you go.

I just don’t know why I feel like this. Because objectively speaking, I shouldn’t be comparing myself to them, right? We’ve all heard those proverbs and sayings and Pinterest-worthy slogans about comparisons, about minding our own business, about just doing our own thing.

And I know that. And my reaction is to hit the back-button on those blogs, to turn away from those writing groups, to cancel meet-ups, to ignore the new releases, and just “work on my own thing.”

But that leaves me exactly where I’ve always been: writing by myself in a journey that is mostly solitary. And sometimes I just wonder if there will ever be a way for me to meaningfully engage with the writing and reading communities again without secretly feeling bad about myself.

2 thoughts on “Dealing With Writing Insecurity

  1. It’s just so hard not to compare ourselves. The outside world is constantly defining success for us – having the novels published already, or being older and having all this experience to draw on. But at the end of the day, writing is solitary. It is something that can only come out of our heads.
    Don’t be harsh on yourself for not joining writing communities. You’ll find the ones where you fit in – the ones where you will feel supported without fear and that you have a genuine interest in them as well. Good luck!

    • I know what you mean. I especially get pressured by news of newer authors out there. They’re so young nowadays, and they’re always such a Big Deal. As the years go by, I keep feeling that I would be too old for my stories to be considered noteworthy.

      Thanks for the comforting words. You’re right; at the end of the day, it has to be me who sits down and churns out each word on every draft, and I’m not going to get any hand holding, no matter how many communities I join. The good news is that I already feel very comfortable in the close circle I’ve formed with you and Books! And I’m always thankful for that!

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