Standard Introduction Goes Here: My name is Kathy, I’m 43 years old, I work in a call center and I’ve been writing off and on since I was 17 but making up stories and worlds and assorted oddness since I was little. I can still remember being about five years old and talking to myself before I went to sleep and having to stop when my mom would come to bed — and then there was that magical day I realized that I could keep talking to myself when she came to sleep if I just started talking to myself inside my own head. Mind. Blown.
I wrote off and on during my teens and twenties, never really finishing anything or pursuing my goals as hard as I could/should have. Well, not entirely true, there were a couple finished stories which were not good. It wasn’t until about eight years ago when I got interested in writing Transformers fanfics that I started producing complete works and getting real feedback about my writing and gaining some real confidence.
In 2007, I tried Nanowrimo for the first time and didn’t win but did at least get a chunk of work done. Original work, which made me happy because finishing and eventually selling an original work is a goal of mine. I didn’t try Nano again until 2011 and didn’t win that time either but in 2012, I did! And this time I managed to continue to work on the project after Nano was done so that made me happy since, as my history probably illustrates, finishing is not one of my strong suits.
I went back to that same project in 2013, with the stated goal of writing a complete draft from beginning to end all the way through with no hopping around and leaving bits to be done at some ‘later time’ that never comes. I’m still working on it, so, go me! And I’m using my involvement in A Round of Words in 80 Days to help keep me focused. So far, so good!
Insecure Writers’ Support Group:
OK, so, this is my first time posting as part of the IWSG and according to the sign-up page, we’re supposed to: Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. So, here we go with a list of some of my more pressing doubts and how I deal with them:
Doubt #1: I suck. I’m a terrible writer who can’t come up with good stories to save her life. Or, at least, I can come up with story ideas but actually turning those ideas into a cohesive story is beyond my puny abilities.
How I Conquered It: I haven’t. I don’t think any writer ever really completely gets over the fear that they suck. Well, except for the ones who do – and more power to them! But for me, while I haven’t conquered this insecurity, I have found ways to shut it up and force it back down into a box. I remember positive feedback I’ve gotten from readers about things I’ve written. I keep in mind that right now, since I’m still an unpublished amateur working on finishing a complete project, it’s kind of expected that what I create isn’t going to be publishable straight out of the gate. The thing to focus on now is getting words out on the page so that they can be crafted into something that doesn’t suck.
Doubt #2 I’m an uncreative leech! The reason I liked writing fanfic so much is because it was easier to use someone else’s ideas, slap on a few superficial and highly derivative bits of my own and then blather on for a few thousand words and call it done. Hack, thy name is me.
How I Conquered It: First things first, I like my fanfics. Well, most of them. Some of them aren’t my best work, but other ones are pretty damn good if I do say so myself. I had fun writing them and, judging by the reviews I’ve gotten, there are people who’ve had fun reading them. Or at least gotten enough enjoyment out of my writing that they took the time to give me a comment. And considering the number of complaints about lack of feedback that show up on Fanficrants, that’s got to be saying something, right?
It also helps that, since I joined A Round of Words in 80 Days and have begun talking about my original fiction ideas, I’ve gotten some positive feedback about them as well. Knowing that others find my ideas and my writing worth their time and consideration helps ease my doubts.
Doubt #3: I’m too old to be a writer! I’m nearly 44 years old and I’ve got nothing to show for the years I’ve spent writing. I’ve written a handful of original fiction stories, none of which are anything to write home about. The last time I submitted anything for publication was in the mid-1990s and nothing came of them. At this rate, I’m still going to be playing around, pretending to be a writer when I’m in my 90s and I’ll never, ever, ever have anything to show for it. Why did I waste my 20s?!
How I Conquered It: Primarily by telling myself to stop talking stupid. Ok, so I might be a bit long in the tooth to take up ballet but for writers, age ain’t nothing but a number. I can write about ballerinas. Or cowboys. Or dinosaurs. Or cowboy ballerinas who ride dinosaurs – on MARS! Because why the heck not?!
And if I want to get something finished, well, then the thing I need to focus on is actually finishing something. Funny how that works, huh? If you don’t work on something, it doesn’t get done. It’s true for laundry; it’s true for stories. Butt in seat, pen to paper, fingers on keyboard, write, write, write! RAAAAAAH! *goes charging off like Bluto in Animal House*
Doubt #4: I am woefully behind the times and out of date; I always get interested in things a few steps behind everyone else. Therefore, my ideas are all going to be dreadfully out of style by the time I’m ready to start trying to get them published. Nobody else is going to care about the things I think are cool because they’re all going to be on to the newest cool thing, leaving me behind in the dust.
How I Conquered It: By reminding myself that I am damn near 44 years old and way too old to be worrying about whether or not I fit in with the cool kids. With a ‘For Crying Out Loud’ tossed in for good measure. Yes, granted, there are trends in publishing but trying to write to those trends isn’t going to make me happy – and considering the amount of work that goes into writing a book, if I’m not happy, I’m not going to do it. So, to paraphrase those stupid Apple Jacks commercials, I will write what I like.
Besides, the world of publishing has changed; there are markets and formats that didn’t exist when I first started writing. There’s a world of options out there that I can, hopefully, take advantage of.
Doubt #5: I’m too weak to do this. Writing is hard! Why is it so hard? It’s not fair! It shouldn’t be so hard! Why can’t I just plug a cord into my brain and print out the damned stories directly? Screw jet packs and flying cars, I want a Print On Demand Brain! One that comes with some kind of graphic design function too, because I can’t draw for @#%* either. Well, except for really cartoony pictures of fish.
How I Conquered It: Yeah, writing is hard – particularly when you’re writing for the consumption of others. Stephen King has described writing as telepathy; which makes sense, you’re basically trying to take thoughts from your brain and put them into someone else’s. So, yeah, of course that’s not going to be easy!
I’m sure artists throughout history have wanted to give up. I’m sure the first storytellers, back in the days when all stories were new and they could literally create anything and have it be completely fresh and new, had days when they just did not want to drag themselves out to the campfire and tell stories. And the folks who worked on Stonehenge? I’m willing to bet that they had days when they didn’t want to get out of their hut and deal with those picky-picky druids who had to have everything just-so. And it’s an established historical fact that Michelangelo didn’t want to work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel but saying ‘no’ to the Pope wasn’t exactly a healthy life-choice at that time.
But they did it. They told the stories and carved the stones and painted the ceiling not because they had to but because creating things made them happy. Ok, so Michelangelo did so he could work on other projects he liked better, but he still did it. But regardless of why they did it, the enjoyment they got out of it was important. They wanted to get the ideas and the thoughts from their brains into other peoples’ brains. And if they could do it, considering that they were also dealing with saber tooth tigers and cranky druids and insistent popes, then I can do it when my biggest obstacle is my own whinny self. And Candy Crush.
Not to mention, that one thing that makes writing easier is actually sitting down and DOING IT instead of sitting around whining about it. I mostly write during downtime at work and on a good night, when things are particularly slow, I can manage at least a thousand words without much in the way of effort, so while I might not ever have a POD Brain, I can still at least get the words on the paper. Which is ultimately what counts.
Doubt #6: I’m wasting my time, my money and my efforts on a gamble that, likely, won’t ever pay off enough for me to recoup my investment.
How I Conquered It: Really, self? Really?! You do realize that in the last week you have spent almost an entire day watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix and eating corn chips and cheese dip, right? Exactly what investment are you getting back on that, other than a nice relaxing day watching an awesome show and enjoying some yummy cheese? Some things you do for the money or because they’re the practical, day to day things that have to be done and some things you do for the love of them and for the joy they bring you. If you’re lucky, sometimes you can get paid for doing the things that bring you joy but the joy should come from the doing of it, not from the getting paid part.
Doubt #7: Nobody cares. I’m all alone, sucking and faking it and being old and out of date with my weak, non-POD enabled brain of suck and fail, wasting my time howling into the abyss – in between binge-watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix and playing way too much Candy Crush and Jelly Glutton on Facebook. I should give up and find a more productive way of spending my declining years. And probably find a new show to binge-watch since I’m running low on Phineas and Ferb episodes. Dang it…
How I Conquered It: See Doubt #1; people do care and I know it. I’ve got friends at work who talk about characters from a book I started back in 2007. My aunt asks after my writing. My girlfriend types up research notes and background materials for me. My declining years are still a couple decades ahead of me, so I can shut that noise up too. And, okay so I am going to have to find a new show to binge-watch but, y’know a broken clock can be right twice a day.
If you enjoyed my post and want to read more, please, visit the other Insecure Writer’s Support Group blogs for more posts about writing. Like Spider Robertson said, shared pain is decreased, shared joy is increased, thus we refute entropy!