Writing a Book? Are you an Insecure Writer?

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 and Tara Tyler. 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. They 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 book into a few pages. Five on a good day and one to three 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 NaNoWriMo novel has likewise been assembled. It’s now very close to completion. 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 and 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?

65 thoughts on “Writing a Book? Are you an Insecure Writer?

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    1. Thank you so much Lucy, that’s come at a good time as I’m in one of those “moments” with the final chapter of this manuscript. Can you link drop that post here too? 😊

  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!

    1. 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. First time reading the Gary from the Saturday share thread and I am definitely not a writer…blog only …but a huge reader. Food for thought…will be going back to re read this and digest properly later (once I have commented on all the blog posts!) x

    1. Thanks Claire. Cognitive dissonance is food for thought and can be applied to many situations where indecision features. Often in low self esteem too unfortunately. Many thanks for commenting x

      1. Yes, I feel sure that I can apply this to so many situations – particularly my daughter who is a great artist but lacking in confidence…the number of times she removes or stops working on a piece when it isn’t good enough…..

        1. Indeed it does, but I might per-suppose it is more obvious in creatives because work is always going to be self criticised. Without sounding boards by peers (eg other writers or artists in your daughters case) you only forge your own view. And if your standards are high then it’s difficult to see merit where it’s due. We call them writing buddies, and my sounding boards are often comments on my excerpts here. Still doesn’t stop the confidence drops, but it does act as evidencing outside my own thinking…if that makes sense!

  3. I suspect your busy with the NaNoWriMo Gary (as I should be ;)). And this post is also a wonderful reminder to reengage with IWSG. Such a great group to help us stay focused on writing and recover from slips into NEtflixing.
    Good Luck!

    1. Cheers Gabe and yes, NaNo is rolling. Seem to be doing OK so far. Ought to link up! I caught Raimy from last year and found a lot of supportive bloggers from it. Will catch up on BUYB on the “other” side…if my brain still functions !

        1. Looking forward to it Gabe, although I’m finding this year easier to deal with. Last year and first time through was way harder…although it’s still early days!

    1. Thanks and I’m right with you. NaNo is where I am too. Which is why I’m MIA on BUYB. Em put mine up as a kindness knowing I was sacrificing that to write!

  4. Very insightful reading with much food for thought….sometimes we are all under the same dilemma and concerns about our blogging objective….

    1. Thanks Anindya, I’ve aimed this in the writing domain, be it novels or even blog posts. It can equally apply to many aspects of life and, particularly with MH issues and low self esteem. I have considered writing posts on that subject too. Your comment is much appreciated, more so because my post on BUYB was put up as a surprise by Em because I’m out of action in the group during November due to NaNo.

  5. 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!! 😉

    1. 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 😊

    1. It’s a therapy term that a friend mentioned. I found it describes indecision processes spot on. Not just writing, but many things that get stuck in should I, shouldn’t I. I could write a whole post on cognitive behaviour lol.

      Thank you for dropping on too…sadly I’m out of action until NaNo finishes. I’m in awe that Em put up this post though. Total surprise 😊

    1. “we” this sounds like a conspiracy lol. I’m rather in awe that “someone’s” put up my post in BUYB today. I’m not sure I can reciprocate today either. My story is not dying at all and riddled with leads from the previous one.

      I digress, this group throws up facinsting posts every first Wednesday of the month. There’s a massive list of bloggers on the main page too. Several hundred in fact. Joining and participating lets you add to that too.

      Thank you and I am missing you all!

    1. Thank you, I was rather unsure of what to put in this one as it was my first go for this tag. Next one is due this week so might be in topic with NaNoWriMo!

  6. 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 😉

    1. 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 😊

      1. What also helps…for me anyway…the upcoming season. Lesser activities outside and/or the weather keeps a person inside more. Writing is a good activity during rainy cold days 😉

        1. Very true and a number of people are saying exactly that. I’m involved with a collaboration post on the subject of page views throughout the year. Many notice visit drop offs in summer and get despondent. Explaining why might help those people keep positive 😊

  7. 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.

    1. 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

  8. 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

    1. 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) 🙂

    1. Totally agree Lisa. I’m still feeling my way round this one. Most of the post link ups are via the Twitter hashtag. I don’t yet know if they have a FB group or not. I do need to get involved more with writers too and move my own work forwards now 🙂

    1. 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

  9. 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?

    1. 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 🙂

  10. Oh Gary, this is food for thought…I’m afraid my cold-addled brain is unable to come up with witty repartie to answer your question though! #GaTu! Aachoo!

    1. Thanks Ritu, and sorry to hear about that cold. Back to school lurgies no doubt…even if it is nearly half term already. Not quite sure where time went there!! This is probably the first post I’ve done relating to writing. Quite a few people have asked me to post about how I do it and come up with ideas. I’ve never really seen me as a guru there lol. I may try it with these now. First Wednesday of every month is #ISWG post day. You may well find it useful too 🙂 #GaTu

        1. No harm in looking; the link is at the top in the dark blue “here.” Takes you to the information page where you can see what its about 🙂

    1. I think it is too; the hashtag allows you to connect with other posts on Twitter too and the sign up site has a huge number of bloggers all in the same boat. I feel its more a writers support group. Its all about helping and supporting. I’m not sure if they have a FB group yet, but will find out 🙂

  11. 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 😀

    1. 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 🙂

    1. Thank you kindly for the welcome. I was a tad uncertain of what type of post to do, so just flowed with what came to mind. Oddly I’ve just been weeding a few out of a friend’s draft this very day too. Less is more is often the best route. Looking forward to catching a few IWSG posts this weekend!

  12. I’m a firm believer in decisions you can explain. I do have some cognitive dissonance that surrounds decision making, but I can cut through it–in general– by looking at my own personal variables and then looking for the WHYs.

    1. 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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