Writing Through the Insecurities

In “Journal of a Novel,” John Steinbeck wrote, “I know it is the best book I have ever done. I don’t know whether it is good enough.” I’m no John Steinbeck and never hope to achieve the status he did as an author, but even he had insecurities about his writing.

Maybe my insecurities are justified. That’s one way to think and going down that particular rabbit hole is where I find myself too often. I constantly have to ferret out all the voices in my head that tell me that the last sentence, the last paragraph, or even everything I’ve ever written is just drivel. It somehow makes me feel better, and not so alone, knowing that even John Steinbeck struggled with such insecurities.

For the past few decades, most of my writing has been technical, nonfiction, or novels. I recently made the decision to pursue my passion for writing novels once again. I never tried to publish my last two novels and I’ve told myself for years that I was just happy with my accomplishment. The truth is that my insecurities held me back and have kept me from writing another novel until now.

Since I made that decision, I’ve set aside some of my reading time for articles and books about writing.  One of the suggestions I’ve read from numerous sources is that novelists should give flash fiction and short story writing a shot. Each writer gave lists of reasons for doing so, but the one that caught my eye was that it could stimulate creativity.

I was very insecure about this new fiction form. How could anyone pack a story of any interest into such a compact space? I gave it a whirl anyway with a lot of starts and stops. I didn’t count how many times I edited it.  Then I finally posted it on a website where I knew it would get serious reviews. I was terrified and expected to be shredded. I felt vulnerable and exposed.

I was torn between wanting to see my reviews and never wanting to even check them, but humans are inherently curious and curiosity won the battle. I had to see what kind of “train wreck” I had written. I was so shocked when I read my first reviews that I thought there must have been some mistake. There were genuine critiques of my story, but my aggregate rating was 4.5 out of 5 stars.

So, to all of the insecure writers out there, tell the negative voices in your head to shut up. Do it every time they try to sneak into your thoughts. I have to do it constantly. Remember that even John Steinbeck had insecurities and most importantly keep writing.

Maybe I’ll try poetry next…….Nope! Not a chance!


8 thoughts on “Writing Through the Insecurities”

  1. Even Stephen King wanted to throw out his novel, Carrie. We all need to tune out the negative voices – some from the outside and some from the inside. Poetry – [snort] I use poetry to vent in meter. None of it will ever see the light of day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Liz! I’m visiting as an IWSG member tonight! Nope! Not a chance of me writing poetry either! LOL I have to tell that negative voice in my head to shut up every day! It’s good to hear that I’m keeping company with people like John Steinbeck. Good luck as you pursue your passion for novel writing! Go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find that people who don’t have insecurities are probably not happy people; they waste so much energy being overly confident or disingenuine. I think it’s good to develop confidence over time. A little insecurity keeps people striving for improvement.
    Glad short fiction worked out for you.
    Thanks for sharing your story with the IWSG.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for posting this piece and for quoting Steinbeck. I struggle a lot with insecurities with my writing. Even though I graduated with a degree in the field, I feel like it wasn’t enough to make me a more confident writer. And when I found Facebook groups and people on Twitter who not only wrote but had books coming out, my confidence shrunk even more. I felt alone even among other writers. I didn’t–and still don’t–have a manuscript. I write short stories, but haven’t submitted any to contests or magazines. I feel like the stories I want to tell are not good enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Insecurities are definitely a challenge that I think more writers struggle with than care to admit. I think that short fiction is a much tougher challenge than a novel and a lot of writers agree with that. From what I’ve read of your work you have real skill and talent in that area. You should submit your short stories. Seriously! The worst possible thing that could happen is that some editor doesn’t think it’s right for their publication or in a contest they think someone else’s work is a little better than yours. They can’t eat you! (at least without getting close to you) 🙂 Keep writing! Mabe novels aren’t your thing today. Maybe they will be tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

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