Are you an Insecure Writer? #IWSG

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge


I first encountered the wonderful Raimey Gallant during NaNoWriMo last year. Her visions of helping writers write and cross-promoting with last years NaNoBlogHop were outstanding, and led me to connecting with many new (to me) bloggers on various social media platforms. I can’t thank her enough for that even though it was nearly a year ago already!

Recently she posted an article that began as follows;

This post is one of 200+ in the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop, and this month I’m co-hosting along with Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, and Beverly Stowe McClure. To continue hoping through more posts or to join, click here. (It’s fun!) There’s a big announcement this month, so head over to hop host Alex Cavanaugh’s site for that.

I felt obligated to investigate further and discovered there is a massive list of members in the group; all tagged and listed to participate in a writing related post on the first Wednesday of every month. There is even a statement of intent.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Doubts and concerns ticked two boxes. I feel certain new authors and even established ones still have doubts over their latest manuscript(s). The big difference being one has gone through due process before and the other, has not.

Quite some time ago I started with a hypothetical question in a never, until now, aired blog post. A point where I’d be staring at e-mails in that gap between submitting and waiting. A mental miasma where time lingers in much the same way weeks of revision stretched eternal leading up to exams. Places a where it collects rather than moves onwards. Joyous in my days of piscatorial last casts before the sun dimmed in the evening sky; not so in waiting for that anticipated rejection after long weeks and months tinged with vague optimism waiting to be dashed.

This is what lay resting in my slush pile of ramblings, buried in files covered in electronic dust. Part of a diary created after the first submission that might never be aired in full. A mind ramble if you like.

Where the blazes have you been?” (Addressed at Executive brain function that has been hiding and not being executive at all).

The answer rests with cognitive dissonance. The juxtaposed conflict of views that lie inside the mind with polar opposite arguments leaving decision making entirely undecided.

I have been mulling much and taken a good course in procrastination. To publish or not to publish, that is the question. Except it’s not really a question given I’ve actually sent one book to a digital imprint owned by a well known publishing house; name withheld lest failure rejection is returned.

In truth, I’m not optimistic because the process has shown me certain submission protocols are a bit naff and ambiguous, and may well be subject to the mood of an editorial team or agent. Not to mention the millions (hyperbole?) of daily incoming that makes careful reading of a newbie manuscript susceptible to the initial approach via email or cover letter.

If they are pants then it may well never get to the dreaded synopsis before being tossed into the shredder. I say dreaded because, despite hundred of “How to do a good one” posts and articles, you still have to condense that novel into a few pages; five on a good day and 1 to 3 on a bad one. This varies agent to agent to publisher. I know mines not selling the book just yet because I write novels and stripping them to the bones so start, middle and end drop neatly into a few lines is a tad (in my book) tricky.

Still, there were a few other things that emerged out of the last few month or so. My very first book, one that lay in digital fractions for two years, is now inside a manuscript template. My NaNo novel has likewise been assembled is very close to completion and my finished novel (working title The Assent of Rose Marie Gray) is at the aforementioned imprint. Unless, it isn’t… and they never received it…ode to the world of I.T. (substitute Kings IT if you so wish).

Automated emails are easy to set up people. Open options of “You might or might not hear from us in three to five weeks” (typically) do nothing to still fractious nerves because hearing nothing at all might, or might not, be a rejection… or a total failure of the submission to land in the first place. I’m not sure which scenario is worse! Working mental synopsis is thus;

Self Doubt

Back to current day and the process is still unresolved and trending at self publishing after a rather nice rejection letter from a Yorkshire based publisher. Personally, I feel they knew I was born in Lancashire and the War of the Roses still sits heavy. “Their loss” says I, in a voice lacking conviction. Nevertheless, it was a very positive letter and offered insights into the volume of submissions received and even said please feel free to submit in the future… (negative spin; probably a stock response sent to everyone?)

Still, I have been asked several times to create posts explaining how I write and where my ideas come from so I take positives from that because it means my readers are disagreeing with the publishing sectors. Go me!

Self-doubt is the beast that even sits wondering if this inaugural Insecure Writer’s Support Group post is what they are after; perhaps the use of “self-doubt” answers that one!

Moving on from the inane insecure mental self reflections waffle, there was a question poised for this weeks IWSG post;

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

I feel on firmer ground here. No, if by personal information it means about me, family and friends. Any inference is purely co-incidental and, in truth, it is probably very unwise to use such information in a work of fiction. It may come back to bite you. By all means use traits, but blend them into a new character that has a back story. Real traits do help a reader identify. A fine line, and if you do become the next J.K. the last thing you want is litigation incoming because you have taken a friend into a book who’s taken umbrage.

However, in my memoirs (example here), by definition, the facts are real so I often relate those accurately with poetic license to spice them up. Not that the two I have written needed spicing up because events were actual, but I can see a need for a certain amount of creative drift if the aim is to pass on humour and atmosphere.

I end with my own question. Does cognitive dissonance impact the decision tree in what to do after your manuscript is written?






  1. Hi Gary,
    I actually wrote a post on writing insecurities as a guest post a few years ago. I keep it in shelf form in case I need a “shelf” post. Of course, I’d give credit to the host blogger.
    The gist of my post was that bloggers do suffer from insecurities and need support. I haven’t seen this topic dealt with elsewhere until your post today. Important topic! Writers may write in isolation but should never feel like they are alone. Off to share!


    • Thanks Janice,

      I see this question poised many times during conversations. I’m often asked to write posts about how I go about writing. I joined ISWG because it’s in my niche and they all post about topics that can help writers with insecurities. Cognitive Dissonance is also a therapy term for people with esteem issues the have difficulty making decisions. It can therefor be applied to a wide range of things and not just writing. Here it is a perfect reason behind why we often struggle with content in isolation.

      I’m hoping to continue doing things like this come the New Year too.

      I haven’t forgotten the poll data either. I’ve kind of exchanged social media time for writing in order to have a serious crack at NaNoWriMo.

      Thanks for your comment and sharing too. I agree it’s an important subject for further collaboration lol


  2. I’ve just re-read this post and realised I didn’t comment the first time! Clearly I needed time to formulate my answer haha. I’ve written ten books (published nine) and still get the writer wobbles when it comes to self-doubt. However, Phil makes a valid point about working hard to succeed and then fearing that success. That is, unfortunately, the way we are built. Success as well as failure are unknown entities and our mind will do anything to keep us safe and can’t differentiate between the two. It takes a huge dollop of willpower to step into our power. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that by book twenty!! 😉


    • A good response Shelley and it seems some aspects of writing wobbles hits many of us irrespective of published or not. Maybe it’s part of a natural trait to have high benchmarks and that can the undermine us. My tremor point is not deciding how to publish. I am stacking up manuscripts (working on a fourth now) and am still no further forwards in what to do with them!! Terrible lol.

      Like your book count though, very respectable indeed 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My own insecurities can definitely change my my mind on publishing a written piece.
    Even at 45, dissonance by others can still throw me of my feet too.
    It’s not easy to trust your own instinct, listen to your own inner voice…
    Hence, I am still doubting if I will ever start writing the book, that is somewhere in my head 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very common I’m finding Patty. I’ve three sitting on a decision now. It’s why I advocate writing buddies to link up with and throw support out. Sounding boards to validate out own thinking. I’ve had a writing lull and am now trying to throw that off. Hopefully I can get up and running soon. Dwelling on publishing is not helping so I’m going to start writing and hope that disrupts the cyclic thoughts and shows me the way forward 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am such an insecure writer & Shelley has already told me off for this earlier in the week. Is this something to do with perfectionism? Are all the insecure writers perfectionists? Thinking we can do better and stupidly comparing ourselves with others? Oh and those publishers definitely knew you were from Lancashire. It’s the only logical explanation for turning you down. It won’t be for your wonderful work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, go Shelley 🙂 It could be, I know I have high benchmarks and they often are set at unreasonable heights. Then there’s the terrible trait of comparing with established writers or bloggers that have had years to fine tune their skills as you rightly mentioned. Thanks too, for the comment re publisher. I am so not going to use that rejection as evidence to support the insecurity benchmark. Not yet anyway lol

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Many, perhaps most, of the creatives I know in real life struggle with uncertainty, self- doubt and insecurity. I mention the real life ones, because I feel it’s easier to hide these feelings when self- promoting online. This sounds like a wonderful idea for writers, to be able to help and support each other through the problems I feel many of them are familiar with, but might not talk about often x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Too right Em, those I know do have a lot of those thoughts and doubts. It must be part of the creatives make-up. Some hide it better than others, but it doesn’t mean at home in the depths of night they don’t sit rocking back and forth in a pit of despair! On-line it is much easier to hide with a false face (as it were). Although I say that with a pinch of salt because friends wherever can pick up on nuances and comments; read between the lines as it were. I reckon it needs a BUYC group (C being Creatives) 🙂


    • It certainly can be! Then again I started this blog to test my writing on people I didn’t know. That was a big hurdle at the time so for me publishing is not the risk as I’ve taken that already here. Trick is to find a route to do it. I have a complete manuscript in wait and two more in the slush pile. But along that support and advice is essential for those who need writing buddies or moral boosts. Best thing is not to overthink lol


  6. I find insecure writers puzzling. It takes tremendous confidence bordering on arrogance to write a book you believe people will want to read. Why do so many writers abandon that confidence at the first sign that they may not win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

    Liked by 3 people

    • A good question Phil. I ‘ve spoken to many writers and some are focused and don’t overthink, some are good authors, but think their work is no good, some get lost at the publishing point and others have a sprinkling of self doubt/esteem issues.

      I only know one that wants a best seller and that’s not a good trait. I agree with you though, I write for me. If others like it all well and good, but I’m not abandoning it if it gets published and I’m the only one who buys it.

      That said, this group is more for support; posts on issues or help, guidance on what to do and that sort of thing. I’m all for pitching into that what I can. If someone takes a positive out of my struggles then that’s enough for me. Why reinvent the wheel? As it were.

      I do like your spin though. Tremendous confidence bordering on arrogance to write a book. I am going to use that now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not a write of fiction. I admire those that can I don’t think I have the imagination! Even as I typed this first sentence I realised I was doing myself a disservice! Anyway, even when writing blog posts I’m sometimes battling against the voice that questions whether or not my content will be interesting to other people. That can lead me to over-editing and delaying the pressing of the ‘publish’ button. What I have to go back to is the question “is this post true to me and who I am?”. If the answer is yes, then I need to bite the bullet and publish. I guess, like fiction, it’s not going to be for everybody, but there WILL be people who enjoy it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that is the first step in avoiding the problem. Why am I writing this? If its for me then I have no problem publishing because (as you inferred) if I like it then there will be people out there with similar tastes who will also like it. Reaching them is a tad harder, but it helps stay the mind from over analysing things. I guess we go back to that mindfulness thing. Am I over editing to avoid hitting publish #procrastination. Love the way your comment ran to conclude that too 🙂


    • A very good system of thinking. I put this in because it affects people with low mood and self esteem issues. Similar traits to many writers I know when challenging their work. The route therapists suggest is to evidence your thoughts. Do other people validate your thinking and if not then start evidencing why you think a certain way. For many that’s how to start doing what you said. Cut through the cognitive dissonance and look for the whys.

      Good comment and one to live by!


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