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Insecurity is a writer’s archnemesis: It’s sneaky and underhanded. It can trash well-known literary giants and overwhelm beginners. It’s a big pile of your deepest vulnerabilities.
But Writer’s Relief is here to tell you that even though insecurity may win a few battles, you can win the war. Here’s how to toss insecurity over your shoulder and never look back!
The Best Tips For Writers Who Are Struggling With Insecurity
Get real. One of the worst side effects of insecurity is losing the ability to see yourself—and your writing—clearly. Insecurity makes you hate every word you write. It makes you hear slights and criticisms where none exist. It tricks you into thinking in absolute terms: I ALWAYS mess this up. I will NEVER get anyone to take my writing seriously. When negative thoughts distort reality like a fun house mirror, ask yourself these questions: Do I 100% know this thought/idea/interpretation to be true? Or is it just my insecurity warping things again? Learn to turn your negative emotions into creative jet fuel.
End the cycle. When insecurity is at its worst, it seems everywhere you look, you’re face-to-face with your worst feelings. Though it may seem as if intense self-scrutiny should answer problems, constant evaluation and reevaluation take up all the energy you might have otherwise used to create something new. If this sounds familiar to you, the solution to your insecurity might be to just stop thinking so darn much about your insecurity. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Then get back to writing.
Focus on the process. You’ve heard this before: Writing is its own reward. When you write, you’re winning. You’re doing what you truly want to do—and that’s success. You can’t control reader reactions, sales figures, or your family’s response to your efforts. The act of writing is the only thing a writer can ever really control in his or her career. And knowing that is actually pretty liberating!
Write through it. Sensing the unpleasant smell of insecurity wafting into your nostrils? Write anyway. Agonizing over the “not very nice” critique from the new member of your writing group? Write anyway. Feeling like every word you write is rubbish? Write anyway. The BEST solution for feeling insecure about your writing is simple: more writing. Attend writing conferences and workshops. Eventually, you’ll write your way through to the other side of your insecurity. But if you quit—well, that’s the end.
Ask for help. Here at Writer’s Relief, our team of submission strategists has been helping creative writers connect with literary agents and literary magazine editors since 1994. And it’s worth mentioning that a number of clients have come to us feeling very insecure about making submissions. In fact, some writers quit entirely before reaching out to us. The submission process was just too emotionally painful for them; every rejection letter felt like an indictment. But with the help and guidance of Writer’s Relief, many clients report feeling much more confident about their submissions—and their writing.
The Double-Edged Sword Of Insecurity
Some writers never stop feeling a certain amount of insecurity about writing. And honestly, a little bit of self-doubt can make you a better writer. A writer who is too convinced of his or her greatness isn’t open to suggestions or creative criticism. But a smidge of uncertainty will push you to reach for new ideas and to express your thoughts in creative, new ways. Insecurity only becomes a problem when it holds you back instead of propelling you forward.
So if your insecurity is slightly annoying but not necessarily causing trouble, don’t worry about it. You’re no different than most writers who put their hearts on the page for all to see (and judge). Focus on the process—on the writing. That’s what will get you through.
Question: What advice would you give another writer struggling with insecurity? What advice would you give yourself? Post it for others to see in our comments section!