March 05, 2014

An Insecure Writer Keeps Writing

It's time once again for all of us insecure writers to band together and, through our solidarity, get some writing done. I must say, February was the most prolific writing month that I've had in years, and that is no exaggeration. I wrote an entire poetry chapbook in February. When true inspiration roams back into your life, it is the writer's high par excellence.

Still, there is no escaping doubt. No matter what I'm writing, how easily the words are flowing, or how excited I am about a WIP (work-in-progress), at some point in the process of creating the first draft, the niggling voice of self-defeat will creep in. Great authors have commented on the fact that it is blissfully easy to create a first chapter, especially if you feel really confident that it's good, and murderous torture to write a second. The better the first chapter was, the harder it is to live up to throughout the work, and it is at about the time that you finish that first installment that the Greek chorus grinds into its opening chords: "Who is going to read this, anyway? It'll never get published, no matter how good it is, so why should I bother finishing it?"

In those moments, I find that nothing helps but the work itself. As many famous writers have insisted to aspirants, Write! For the love of God, write! Take questions like readership and particularly publishers out of the equation, or you are doomed before you begin. And when you feel discouraged, write more and write harder. If I type myself through that "slough of despond," I come out the other side feeling productive and refreshed. If, on the other hand, I give in to those voices for one second, I can look forward to at least a week of inertia, unable to write so much as a phone message and sinking ever deeper into a well of self-loathing.

There's a sidebar on this blog that is my public accountability, naked and utterly exposed before the world, of whether or not I have been writing and therefore mentally thriving. Every day that one of the page or word counts on that bar jumps has officially been a good day. The second that I hear my self-talk become laden with thoughts such as, "Oh, what's the point?" I immediately scream out my mantra in my head.

For the love of God, write! Now!


  1. I need one of those side bars. I am easily distracted by tabs and links and could wander the web all day and get nothing done. Excellent advice not worrying abut readership and publishers. That first draft has to be allowed to come from a place of passion. That's when it's fun!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. One of my counters went up today, by-the-way!

  2. Write for you and much will come due, that is the way to be at ones sea

  3. It's so true! I was so worried what others will think about my book, it stopped me dead in my tracks for a bit. Not to say I'm not still concerned, but now I just don't let it get to me while I'm writing.

    co-host IWSG
    AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

  4. I think it's a great attitude and hats off to you for keeping at it even when self doubt hits. It takes a certain kind of determination to set all that aside and keep going.


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