Ask a question

What Do Writers Do When They Feel Insecure About Their Work

Are amazing authors ever insecure about their work?

I'd hardly call myself an “amazing” author, but having made a decent living at it for over twenty years, I'm okay.That said, there's a point in EVERY book that I'm convinced I'm the worst writer EVER. A joke. A fraud. Every phrase sounds stupid. Usually, this is when deadline pressure feels like a vice in my chest.But eventually I finish, and then give my recently born book baby a read, and think it's not half bad. By the time I've revised and tweaked and polished, I'm usually satisfied—and mystified. I genuinely don't remember having written most of any given project.So yes, I often feel insecure while writing. The trick is to ignore that monster and just finish the damn book. First drafts are supposed to suck!

Why do I feel insecure about my writing?

Because what is in your head, and what is on the page, are two different things. I call it artistic myopia. You know the story in your head way better than your reader will. You can see and smell and taste it. But you have to use words to convey what is in your head and when you compare the words to the vision, it just sucks. And it’s not just writing! I know artists, musicians, and sculptors who all are the same way. I envision X. I created Y. Y is inferior to X. I am a failure.The catch is that your audience doesn’t see that vision. Your audience doesn’t have X in their head. They have Z, which range from utterly nothing to some abstract conglomerate of what they want to see. Worse, everyone’s Z is different, and it’s impossible to write for them all. You hit some people’s Z, and they love it. You hit close to it, and they like it. You don’t hit their Z at all and they hate it. This is the reality of being an artist. Not everyone will like your Y.But don’t feel bad about failing to convey your vision perfectly. No one can. Words are poor conveyors of life experiences. Be content that you have told the best story you can, and move on.

Writers: What advice would you give to someone that's very insecure about their own writing, to a point where it stops them from being productive?

Keep writing. It's better to write horribly than not at all. I've often been insecure about my own writing. There were patches of time when I refused to show my writing to anyone. I cringed at my writing and was extremely self-critical. But I also took the time to understand why I was so insecure -- I held high standards and expectations, when I should have relished in the fact that I could write and that I did write consistently. You are your harshest critic.Take it slow. Write a few words. A few sentences. A paragraph. You don't have to show your writing to anyone. No one is going to judge you. Relish in the feel of the words, in the cadence, in the images you invoke with language. Writing is an intimate activity. It's only you, the words in your head, and the words on paper. It's intensely private and self-reflective, and it lets you be both a dreamer and a crafter. It's simultaneously frightening and exhilarating, but we've been there and we know what it's like. It's okay. Be kind to yourself, and above all, write.

I don't want to be insecure with other good writers and not compare my works in a bad way. What should I do?

What you have to realise is that the majority of these ‘good writers’ feel about your writing exactly the way you feel about their writing.Virtually all writers dread their readers discovering they are really bad at writing. They fear everyone else writes better than them, or that the ‘voice/magic’ will one day leave them and they will be exposed as the truly bad writer they think they are.It is part of the writing process to be insecure about our writing, but it is also what motivates us to strive to do better. Writing well will always make you feel vulnerable and exposed, because we putting something of ourselves into our writing.However, publishing your work for critique by others is not just necessary, it is an important tool in learning to be a better writer.Here is what I suggest you do:Look on line and find a supportive writing group, one where positive feedback/critique is encouraged.Set a positive example and constructively critique the work of other writers, offering perhaps three examples of things you like about their writing and three way they could improve.Here is what will happen:The writers whose work you review will be so relieved someone has not trashed their work/writing, and actually likes some of it, that they will return the favour and constructively review your writing.You will find you learn far more about your own writing by constructively critiquing other people’s work than from what they say about your work.You will become a better writer.You will make some really supportive write friends who know exactly how you feel and can give you much needed support.You will want to reach out to help new writers.Hope that helps,Nick

Do you ever feel jealous of other writers?

I get jealous of other writers not because I am insecure but because how did you do that thing with the words??? It was so pretty and you wrote it so well and wowzers— I want to be able to do that! Why can’t I do that???I get jealous of other writers not because I wish I could be them but because I want to know all of their secrets so I can steal them.I want to know where they buy their words from, what brand they are. I want to know what tools they use to extract the words from their brain and what sort of machine they have which arranges them so precisely into sentences.I get jealous of other writers because how did they come up with this idea? How did they devise that metaphor? How did they think of writing that?I want their life experiences— preferably in a PDF, though I would also take a Word doc. I want the cogs in their brain which methodically pump out such brilliance in a way I never could. I want to hire their staff to interpret my world the same as theirs.I get jealous of other writers, and then I get frustrated because I’m jealous of entirely intangible things like “experience”. I realize that I could study a lifetime and never write with the beauty and profoundness and depth that they do, and that no matter what, I will never see the world like they do.I get jealous of other writers, because I want something that I can’t have and that I don’t need anyway.I will still study the writing of those I admire, and I will snatch from them whatever it is I fancy. I will take words and phrases and structures and even ideas when it suits me.But I have to acknowledge that those things can only be laid overtop of who I am.No amount of desperate jealousy will change what I have experienced or how my mind brings ideas to life. I can don a million costumes and underneath it all will still just be me.I do get jealous of other writers, because I want to write what they write and how they write. In the end, though, I have to give in and remember that I can write as no one but myself, and that no amount of jealousy will make me better at it.

I get very very insecure on shrooms? And frighteningly empathetic?

I enjoy magic mushrooms but whenever I get isolated while on them I start getting crazy thoughts.
Thoughts about how inadequate I am, how insecure and pathetic I truly am, how I'm messing up my life, i start to feel lonely, alone in the world. I feel guilty about many things such as what I don't do to help people or how about my ex girlfriends and how I was a dick. I have cried multiple times because of these thoughts because they were all very true.

On the flip side good things accompany it, i stopped selling drugs because of these thoughts, I feel like a more empathetic person. It's as my problems are put into perspective with everyone else's because my imagination goes CRAZY. I step into the shoes of a peasant in Brazil who has no hope for social mobility, could get killed any day etc.. Or a mother trying to raise a kid in worn torn syria.
You know things like that, it's as if I totally step into their shoes and it feels HORRIBLE.

I don't hallucinate that I am them, i just get so empathetic to the point that i can feel what I imagine they feel