Challenge Yourself: You Don’t Know What You Can Achieve

It’s the first Wednesday of the Month which means it’s officially Insecure Writers Support Group Day. Thank you, Alex J Cavanaugh, and thank you our Rocking co-hosts for the March 7  posting of the IWSG: Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner.

Several weeks ago I found this compilation of “11 Quotes for facing your fears” on They are still on the website as of this morning. There are some good quotes and I  wrote a few of them down and have them hanging beside my computer. I like to read them from time to time. One of my favorites is:

“Until you cross the bridge of your insecurities, you can’t begin to explore your possibilities.” – Tim Fargo.

Fargo has written some business books which I’m fairly sure I will never purchase or read. I do love this quote and little things like that can inspire me when I begin to feel like throwing all my writing out of the window like Harper Lee did with her manuscript for “To Kill a Mocking Bird” except without the snow. While I was browsing through the quotes, I  recognized many of the names to which the quotes were attributed. There was another quote I want to share.

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”—Natalie Goldberg

The quote and the name sounded familiar and I realized she is the author of “Writing Down the Bone: Freeing the Writer Within.” This book was published in 1986 and I read it when I was writing my first novel and really enjoyed it.

I looked at the quote and thought that was a tall order. I use my emotional experiences as a source to draw on when writing fiction. Several days later I found myself writing a poem about my very deepest pain. I’m not a poet. I haven’t written a poem, or rather I haven’t tried to write a poem since I was in junior high. That was a long time ago. I think there were still dinosaurs roaming the Earth at that time.

I poured so much of myself and my pain into that poem, but I used a lot of symbolism. I still can’t believe I did this, but I entered the poem in a poetry contest. The only person who came close to understanding what the poem was about was the person judging the contest.

It wasn’t a free verse poem but it didn’t really follow any of the standard forms of metered quatrains. The judge wrote that she could feel all the emotion in my poem.

I won third place.

I crossed the bridge and I explored my possibilities. I also feel like I allowed myself to be split open. I exposed myself even though it was in an allusive manner.

I cried a bucket of tears. I crossed another bridge. I achieved exploring another possibility.


If you would like to read more blog posts from the IWSG, you can find links to their posts at the bottom of the page after clicking this link.

Insecure Writers Support Group




A Good Review is Hard to Find – Part 1

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and so it is once again time for the IWSG Blog Hop. I would like to thank Alex Cavanaugh and also the other members of this wonderful group for making this possible and for the support they provide. Special thanks to the co-hosts of the January 3, 2018, posting of the ISWG:  Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria!


One of the most challenging steps for an insecure writer is putting your writing out there for reviews and critiques but it is also one of the best things you can do to help your growth as a writer. Conversely, giving reviews and critiques to other writers is also one of the best things you can do for your own writing skills. Giving reviews can help you develop your analytical skills and apply those skills to your own writing.

The most significant experience that helped me begin the process of overcoming the fear of putting my writing out into the world to be read, reviewed, critiqued, criticized, loved or hated was agreeing to be a beta reader for another writer. The writer was young and it was the first novel for this writer. I’m not sure if the writer was male or female so I’m just going to use the pronoun she for simplicity. She lived a half a world away but with the internet, I now know authors and writers all over the planet.

She was having trouble finding beta readers for her WIP (work in progress). I had no experience with being a beta reader at that time but I’m an avid reader, I’d written several novels, and I’d taken novel writing classes from successful authors. So, I thought, why not agree to read her book and I volunteered.  I also found several groups of beta readers and gave her the names and links to the groups. She ended up with about two dozen beta readers.

I received the manuscript and after reading the first two chapters, I wanted to jump out of a window of a very tall building for agreeing to do this. I slogged through 8 more chapters because I had made a commitment. At that point, I just gave up. I had read calculus textbooks that elicited more emotion. I tortured myself for days wondering how I was going to give her feedback on her novel without being a total jerk.

By putting myself in her shoes, trying to see the story through her eyes, and by assuming she wanted honest feedback on how to improve her work, I eventually found a method that worked in this case. I was thanked profusely for being the only beta reader that gave her useful feedback. I was told that the other beta readers that bothered to respond came back with responses like “looks good” or “sounds fine.”  Not being able to get useful and helpful reviews and critiques is an issue I’ve heard from a number of writers. I’ve decided to write a short series of posts regarding this issue.

This experience helped me to understand that I had to overcome some of my insecurities about putting my writing out there for reviews if I wanted to take another step in improving my writing.


Notes of interest:

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the next IWSG Twitter Pitch Party – Thursday, January 18!
With hundreds of agents and publishers, this one will be ten times bigger than our first event.

To read blog posts from other members of The IWSG use this link because the HTML code doesn’t work on my site: