The Happy Writer

How Do You Deal With Writer’s Insecurity?

I was recently chatting over Twitter with The Distracted Writer about this.

I think that as writers we’re often the worst judges of our writing. After reading and editing the same piece of work a dozen or so times, it can get tough to determine what’s good or bad, and insecurity can creep in.

I’ve stumbled across so many other writers struggling with the same insecurities, and you know, it’s a relief to know these worries are pretty normal.

I love this graph by Maureen McHugh (who’s written many novels and knows so much more than I do). I think it illustrates the writing process brilliantly.

Stages of novel writing
Stages of novel writing

Because it’s a little hard to read I’ve typed out the stages of the process here:

  1. This is the greatest idea I’ve ever had.
  2. Okay, it’s harder than I thought, but still good.
  3. This is going to take some work.
  4. This sucks and it’s boring.
  5. (Dark night of the soul)
  6. It would be good to finish it because I will learn for the next novel.
  7. Hey, I can at least finish this suckfest in just another 10,000 words.
  8. It’s done and it sucks but it’s not as bad as I thought.

When I’m having a rough time writing a story, I wonder if I’ve finally reached the dark night of the soul. It’s only up from there right?

8 Comments

  1. I usually put on my hip waders and gloves and slog through the morass. I keep my eyes on the other side and try not to inspect too closely the distasteful muck oozing around me. What dark night of the soul?

    1. Ahh but sometimes the muck can still splash in your face. I agree with you though. I don’t think there are any shortcuts but to slog through no matter what horrible things are floating around in the ooze.

      The dark night of the soul is the low point on the diagram, but it’s probably a bit hard to read. Hmm maybe I should write it out.

  2. Lua

    I made this the background picture of my computer- it helps to see it everyday, if for nothing else, it never fails to put a smile on my face 🙂
    From what I learned so far- we are not alone in this. Everyone who’s involved with a creative project experiences self doubt and that paralyzing fear and the important (the really important) thing is to just keep on writing!

    1. I think I need to print it out and make a t-shirt LOL or at least a very big poster for my wall. I think insecurity and doubt is the curse of the creative person. I agree though. We just have to keep writing!

  3. Harry Markov

    It is around this time that I lose interest in the piece altogether and start doing sth else or just whip a three pages long ‘end’, but right now I am taking my time and do it in a small scale scene by scene method, where this thing follows a faster beat and allows me to actually finish what I write.

    1. I’ve just switched to the scene by scene method in the last couple of months and I’ve found it really makes a difference in my writing output. Writing by chapter was too abstract for me. Really chapters are arbitrary! But when you think of a scene there’s a beginning, middle, and end. You know where it’s going to go, and it feels good to finish one.

Comments are closed.