The Fight for Confidence: An IWSG Post

Good day, writing friends.

It’s November, which means a lot of things for a lot of people. At the time of this post, the midterm elections will be in the books and we’ll hope things will start to turn around for this country. I hope you guys went to the polls. Also, Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, but let’s not kid ourselves. No one really celebrates Thanksgiving. We’re all looking forward to—or dreading—Christmas. (I’m betting the latter.) And for many writers, NaNoWriMo is in full swing. For those participating, know that I believe in you and I’m here to cheer you on.

But regardless of what you have going on this month, I hope you will take a little time to read my latest Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. Many thanks to this month’s co-hosts: Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman.

One thing I’ve learned in my writing journey is that everyone struggles with confidence. But as comforting as it is knowing I’m not alone, that lesson still hasn’t sunk in because I keep talking about it. Every month it seems, I converse with other writers on social media about this all-too familiar topic. I talk about how I “should” be further along in my writing journey.

I took a hiatus recently because my confidence was so low. I wasn’t doing anything with my writing. I started a Wattpad account, but wasn’t publishing anything. I had so many unfinished stories on my flash drive. At one point, I wanted to give up. Fortunately, some friends talked me off the ledge. I picked the pen back and got back to writing. I even published some earlier works on my Wattpad. Even so, the confidence was still lacking.

However, during the past couple of weeks, I had an epiphany. As I was trying to decide on what to write for this month’s post, something lit a fire in me. A spark of inspiration flickered. I made notes about the things that I believe attribute to my lack of confidence. For this list, there’s no numbered order, but I ordered them based on significance. It’s here on this platform that not only will I address these barriers, but take steps to shatter them.

Let’s get started.

Comparing myself to other writers. This is perhaps one of the worst things I do as a writer. Again, if you read my tweets and posts, you probably notice this trend. I go on and on about how I’m not as successful as others; about how I “should” be doing this or that because I have a degree in the field. But it only feeds into my depression.

There are words of wisdom writers often share with me. First, my path is totally different from someone else’s. My process will be different from another. I will not define success the same way as another. Second, I am not unique. Every writer struggles with confidence in different ways. I read confessions from other writers whenever I bring this subject up and I feel I belong. We’re all here to be each other’s cheerleader. So that’s what I will focus on when jealousy starts to fester.

Downplaying my accomplishments. This is right up there with comparing myself to others. There is a difference between being humble and putting yourself down when it comes to what you’ve done. While I chalk it up to not bragging, I’m really saying my accomplishments don’t deserve celebration.

But it took hard work to achieve what I’ve done. I need to be proud of the results. Use them to not only motivate myself, but inspire others to go after what they want.

Obsessing over seeking perfection. Writing is a trying and grueling process. No draft will ever be perfect. Every writer has said so. So why am I trying so hard to write one? I think it’s because I don’t want to put in the effort to make my stories better. My thought is that if I follow all the rules, then subsequent drafts won’t be necessary. But it’s this “need” to be perfect that leads to depression and a lot of WIPs unfinished.

A fellow writer shared how she spent years improving her writing skills. That should be my way of thinking. I need to write and be okay with imperfection. I’m not going to catch every mistake. That’s why I need other writers to help make my writing better. That’s why I need to write more drafts, but not obsess over it. Perfection cannot be my endgame. Actually, there can’t be an endgame. Regardless if my writing gets published or not, there is always something to learn and always something to improve upon.

Not allowing myself to be flexible with writing prompts. I’m a big fan of writing prompts. I think they’re good for whenever you’re stuck. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to writing prompts and I know some websites and fellow writers who offer writing prompts. But there is a problem. I tend to take things too literally. Recently, I asked anyone to send me a prompt. I received it, but instead of embracing the challenge it carried, I complained about how it was beyond my comprehension.

I’m someone who is very rigid and meticulous about following rules. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. But I have to remember the concept behind writing prompts is to look at them with every angle; to explore multiple interpretations. To become a better writer, I have to escape my own little bubble. I have to see the world in all its splendor.

Writing in other genres. Next to posts about how I’m not as good as others, I’ve posted about how I want to break into other genres. I want to challenge my creativity. But it is bad when I merely talk about it, but don’t. Worse, I write in a different genre, but am not satisfied with the results. Why? Because I’m hung up on the rules.

Like writing prompts, I feel each genre has a core set of rules. But here’s the thing about these rules writers tell me: they serve as more of guidelines that can be bent rather than stay ironclad. What you write is fair game. Every genre has variations. Some stories cross a number of genres, so every not every rule is going to apply. At the end of the day, I have to write what makes me happy. But I won’t know what does unless I go for it.

I write because I love weaving words together to create something wonderful. I can’t do that if I don’t believe in myself and my writing. The statements listed above, I believe, are barriers stifling my confidence. All of them are self-imposed, no doubt about that, but I know I have the support and tools to shatter them. I can’t say whether this topic will sprout up again in the future. Regardless, I will take this journey head-on, confident that I will be the best writer I can be.

How about you? What do you believe is holding you back from being confident? From being the best writer you can be? Let me know in the comments so that I can encourage you.

Until next time, keep writing and keep fighting!

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No Writer Is An Island: An IWSG Post

Hey everyone,

It’s the first Wednesday of the month. So it’s IWSG time. For those who don’t know, bloggers like myself share stories about our writing journeys to inspire fellow writers. We share our triumphs, our insecurities, our habits. Anything writing-related. Much thanks to this month’s co-hosts: Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery. If you want to learn more about the group or to sign up, click on the link. Continue reading “No Writer Is An Island: An IWSG Post”

Solving the Name Puzzle: An IWSG Post

Good day, my fellow bloggers.

The first Wednesday is here, which means it’s IWSG post time. In case some of you are new to my blog, I’m part of a group created to encourage and support writers of all levels. The first Wednesday of each month, we share our stories, or we answer a question that the group provides to us. If you want to know more about the group or believe you can encourage fellow writers, go to the IWSG website to learn more and sign up. You won’t regret it. I promise.

Continue reading “Solving the Name Puzzle: An IWSG Post”

There Is A Season: An IWSG Post

Good day, my writing and blogging friends.

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Can’t believe we’re a third of the way through the year. And Spring is in full bloom. And at least where I live, it’s finally feeling like Spring. The bees are out in full force. Allergies are flaring. And many of us are prepping the yards for the summer. Continue reading “There Is A Season: An IWSG Post”

Establishing a Reward System: An IWSG Post

Good day, my writing/blogging friends.

It’s hard to believe we are entering a fourth of the new year. Where does the time go? Anyway, it’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. (Side note: I have to think of another way to introduce these posts. I enjoy writing them and I hope you guys enjoy reading them.)

Before I begin, I need to get something off my chest. I want to thank Alex Cavanaugh and the administrative team for allowing me to write these posts. Continue reading “Establishing a Reward System: An IWSG Post”

Hit the Ground Running: An IWSG Post

First of all, Happy New Year! 2018 is finally here. For some people, it couldn’t have come sooner. Time for fresh starts and new beginnings. Second, welcome to the first IWSG Post of the new year. For those of you new to my blog, the IWSG, or Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to share their writing journey—their triumphs and struggles—in order to encourage others on their own journey. Continue reading “Hit the Ground Running: An IWSG Post”

Reflecting on 2017: An IWSG Post

Good day, my writing and blogging friends. It’s the first Wednesday of December. (Hard to believe.) And as with every first Wednesday, it’s time for my Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. Now before I get started, I have to thank the IWSG Administrative Team for allowing me the opportunity to share and encourage fellow writers. To be honest, when someone encouraged me—I forget who—to sign my blog up for this group, I had my doubts. I wasn’t sure how encouraging I would be seeing how I struggle with the writing process. I’m still learning things about the evolution of the writing process. I’m finding myself having to refresh myself on numerous factors of storytelling. And I’m still learning things about myself as a writer. But in writing these posts, the biggest I took is that not only am I encouraging others, but I’m being encouraged. And we all need encouraging once in a while. So thanks to the administrators for allowing me to share what I’ve learned in my writing journey this year, and I hope to continue to be a source of encouragement in the years to come.

So, now on to this month’s question:

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

This came at the perfect time. I’m using the majority of the month to go through my Evernote notebooks and Pinterest boards. During this time, I’m thinking about all the goals I set for the year; about the reasons why I succeeded or failed to meet those goals. I usually reserve that post for the end of the year, but now is as good a time as any.

2017 was a mixed year. It was a year where I decided to expand my horizons in my writing. But like with any endeavor, there were setbacks. And there were things I wished I could have done differently. It seems pointless to be thinking about what I could have, would have, should have done. Especially for someone like me since I can obsess over failures more than successes. But there’s something to be said of being honest with yourself. While I have things I wish I could have done differently, it’s important for me to highlight my successes. So, let’s go.

Let’s start with Project Blacklight. This year, I added two serial blog posts. The IWSG being one. The second being the Weekend Coffee Share, where I create posts about events around my personal life. I interjected writing into the mix. Just recently, I found out the mediator shut down the Weekend Coffee Share postings. But I thought of opting out of the posts anyway because I don’t want to go into too much detail about what goes on in my life. I’ll still offer tidbits on the most relevant events of my life. Content-wise, there’s nothing I would have done differently. In terms of the blog as a whole, I wish I would have chosen a different name. It’s a moot point now, but I wish I could have given it more thought.

Next, social media. It’s not so much about what platforms I joined. It’s more about being more active. On Facebook, for example, I joined a new writing group. The 365 Writing Club. To do so, I had to sign up for their challenge. The idea behind it was to encourage and enrich daily writing habits. I say that it has worked out well, even though I didn’t write every day. And there were periods of time where I recorded consecutive zeroes and debated among myself on whether I should be a writer. Another thing I wish I could have done differently. But I got a lot of support from fellow members and administrators. And I’m seriously considering joining next year’s challenge, upping the word count goal to 500.

On Twitter, I joined the Flash Fiction Hive. I’ve talked about this group on several posts. Even shared some of the stories I wrote based on the prompts offered. The group went live in August and they post a month’s worth of prompts every other month. The best thing I’ve gotten out of the group is the writing hashtag games throughout the week. It sounds silly, but I thought I couldn’t do them because I didn’t have a WIP that involved the theme. But I didn’t need a WIP to participate. I wish I knew that sooner.

And finally, let’s talk about my writing. This year marked a big deal. I wrote some stories outside my genre. This is such a big deal. I felt locked in Contemporary Fiction. But after some encouragement, I took the plunge. I drafted a few stories in fantasy and sci-fi. But the one thing I regret was relying on other writers for inspiration. By that, I mean I posted polls on Twitter for what my next story should be about. I lacked a lot of confidence to come up with a story and I wrote them to please them, not myself. I wish I was more confident in myself to create the stories I wanted to write. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t appreciate their input or their encouragement. But I needed to stand on my two feet. Write what I felt gave me the best joy, even if I didn’t know all the rules.

Second, I set a goal this year to start submitting stories to contests and magazines. That hasn’t happened. I came up with a lot of excuses as to why it didn’t happen.

The fees were too expensive.

I didn’t know anything about the theme.

There were too many ways to interpret the theme.

I didn’t have the right software.

Over and over again, the same excuses. Truth is I could have submitted something, as long as it was polished to the best of my abilities. And even then, I used that as an excuse. But the biggest thing that stopped me was me. I was afraid to fall flat on my face. I’m someone who doesn’t like to admit faults and shortcomings. But everyone has them. Everyone is going to fail. Not every work that’s published is going to be the best. There will always be critics.

I’m still trying to get those realities into my head. I’m not going to be the best writer in the world. There will be others better than me. And that’s the biggest thing I would want a do-over. I would tell myself to not worry if I get rejected. It will happen. But at the same time, I would tell myself that it’s worth it to become a better writer. And that’s the end goal: to become better and better with each story. Not perfect, but better.

If I had to define 2017 in one sentence, it would be, “I tried something that scared me.” Now yes, there were some things I didn’t try. And sure, I had moments I wished I could backtrack and change some things around. But overall, I’m proud of myself. And that’s the important thing of why I did what I did this year. I wanted to say I did this, I did that, and it felt so good. Whether it was writing so many words a day or writing outside my comfort zone or being a voice of encouragement even though I had doubts myself. I set out to become a better writer and I feel I’m on the right track heading into the new year.

So, how about you? What are some of your successes in 2017? What’s something you wish you could have done differently? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time…