Confessions of a Self-Conscious Writer

I have a confession. Since I was 10-years-old, I’ve wanted to be an author. Writing has had the largest impact on my life. It’s quite possible writing has had an even greater influence than most people. I find it easier to express myself in writing and have chosen to convey complex emotions through letters. There’s no way I could have gotten the same point across vocally. When I was lonely and in my darkest moments, writing was how I overcame. The stories and poetry I wrote helped me to understand and overcome my own feelings.

Since that young age, I have had a ton of ideas for stories. Some involve worlds I created for escape during sadder times in my childhood. Others are relatively  new concepts. My story ideas often start from an idea I want to play with. For example, purity. What is purity and is it any better or worse than being a good person? Where is its value?

From these questions I form a story and a main character. Rarely do I have an idea of where I am going with the plot. Sometimes, I feel I need to sit and plan it all out before writing. Other times I think I should just let my fingers flow as they may.

None of the above is what I want to confess here. My confession is that I feel like I am a poor writer. In fact, sometimes I question whether I am even deserving of that title. I hear about so many different methods people use to create their stories and none of them fit my own. Part of my problem may be that I am still developing my writing style.

As I sit here, I confess to feeling more self-conscious than usual about my writing. In this state of mind I am in, I think it would be therapeutic to list my concerns.

The best time for me to write is in the morning with as much caffeine as I can get my hands on. This sucks because I have a full-time job. Basically, this leaves writing to the weekends, which are almost always busy. I wish I was one of those writers who could sit with a glass of wine and write all night long. Unfortunately, this has never been me. Even in college, I was worthless after 10PM. I used to wake up at six or seven in the morning to write my term papers. After spending weeks on research, I could bust out a 15+ page paper in one morning. I am a morning writer, and I am still trying to fit this quality into my daily life. (The obvious solution is to wake up earlier… something I need to work on)

My own self-doubt cripples me. I will sit to write and start to doubt the quality. If I let it get to me, I’ll spend time editing details that don’t need to be messed with yet. I may even delete paragraphs after deciding they were poorly written. All this time is time that would be better spent crafting my story. Honestly, writing for me can be like a fight sometimes. I have to constantly tell myself that this is good. This is worth while. Just get lost in the story. When inspiration hits, it’s the easiest thing in the world. Everything flows in unison. If ever I start to doubt my story, my writing will slow. Usually, I can counter this by taking a break here or there to read a blog or check Facebook. (the lesson to be learned here is that I need to start my Saturday writing sessions again)

The worst thing in the world is when I let it get to me. Everything stops. I can tell myself this is good, but I don’t believe. I’m getting better though. I tell myself that, even if I write a book that sucks, I’m ahead of every person who said they wanted to write a book and didn’t. Having a written book will give me more to work with as well. I can learn from what people like and dislike and improve from there.

I have so many ideas and so little actually written. It can be hard to focus on just one concept. I may sit with the intention of working on one story, only to find the inspiration isn’t there. If I keep going back and forth between concepts, how will I ever get anything of substance written? I once read that it was good to move back and forth between ideas. Maybe I just want too much too fast. I am in my early 20s, after all. While there are plenty of authors younger than me, there are many more who hadn’t published their first book until they were decades older than me. Nothing needs to be rushed, but I want it so bad.

I want it too bad.

Therein lies the root of my writing confidence issue. There is a part of me that feel like I should have something written by now. How long can I hold a dream if I don’t peruse it? And what if I fail? And what if I just keep coming up with new ideas instead of finishing one I’ve already developed? And what if the truth is that I wasn’t meant to ever write a book? Do I have it in me?

_

Answer: Yes, TK. Now get your butt off this damn soap box and start writing.

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this on my blog. If you haven’t already, please go check out Common Sense Millennial. She’s mentioned me in her article about Millennials who break negative GenY stereotypes. Thanks a bunch, Kali.

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31 thoughts on “Confessions of a Self-Conscious Writer”

  1. Just write. Don’t worry about other people’s habits. They aren’t you.
    If you feel fired up to write a story, don’t let ANYTHING discourage you. Even if it seems similar to another story, just plow ahead…unless it is so similar that it practically IS that story.
    The last time I let anyone give an opinion on a story I was writing/had yet to write was back in 2007. For years I wanted to try my hand at writing a dramatic screenplay because it was a challenge to me. I could write horror and sci-fi easily enough, but I couldn’t write about challenges people would face in everyday life. Then I finally came up with a plot. I was so excited about it that I showed it to my friends. (Little did he know, I’d already written about 30 pages of the script.) So I said to him, “What do you think?”
    He shook his head and said, “Scrap ot.”
    Now as I said, I was already 30 pages in. Those 30 pages had flown by. Whenever a story writes itself, I don’t care HOW bad everyone else says it is; I keep going. That is what I did with that story, and the people I’ve let read it have said it was the best thing I ever wrote. (That is a subjective statement, but the point remains valid.)
    Don’t worry about how others write. As for not finishing an idea, here is a thought: write an outline for the other ideas but stick to the one you are currently working on.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. I often write to let go of my feelings and that was the purpose of this post. With it out in the open, I can finally release these worries and get down to business.

      At the end of the day, having any book written is an accomplishment. I’m determined to get there. I’ll worry about the rest once that’s done.

      And thank you for the suggestion. I might do just that with the ideas I have floating around.

        1. I haven’t written much about my actual concepts on this blog, so scrolling through wouldn’t tell you much about that. To be honest, I’m very nervous about putting my ideas out there before they are finished.

          My life has only now settled down. When I was in college, it was all about classes and work (to avoid taking on too many loans), so my writing suffered. I didn’t even have much of a social life. After that, my life was all about finding a job. With that accomplished, I fell into a typical 40 hour work week and have been struggling to find a way to fit my writing into this “adult” lifestyle.

          All that is to say that I don’t have a main story yet… I have about five stories that I’m bouncing around (like I said: too many ideas). I’ve written the basic concept down. One has a plot defined with a beginning middle and end. That’s the one I want to roll with now. It’s set in a fantasy world, but is inspired by some of my grade school experiences and the protectiveness I felt towards my younger brother. I wrote it out over four pieces of notebook paper (back and front) in middle school. It’s extremely simplistic as it is, but acts as a good outline.

          1. I wish I knew you better, but I only just found your blog today. Otherwise I would say I’d love to help you out but, since you don’t know me AND you just said you are cautious about putting things out there, I know you won’t.

            At any rate, I’d like to hear your thoughts on some of MY blogs. Feel free to comment. And when you get this thing written, if you want any additional help, I am an “editor” of sorts. Lately I have been getting into offering my services through Fiverr. If you ever want, I will give you my link to check me out over there.

            Steve

            PS: I work 40 hours a week as well. My trick is that I eat my snacks and lunch at my desk while I work. Then, when I actually clock out for break and lunch, I do nothing but write!

            1. I will keep you in mind when I have a draft ready. I’ve gone through a process over the past few months to rekindle my writing. Through all the change that happened over the past five years, I lost my muses. This blog was one muse. I’ve made time for other hobbies that bring me inspiration and just like that, the ideas start flowing again.

              My point is, it might be a year or so before I have something I can actually call a draft. I’m at the beginning of my writing process and have been working on defining things I need to get my creative juices flowing. I set a goal a few weeks back to write at least 1,000 words per week, which is nothing. Like my other hobbies, though, I need to plan writing into my life. I’m a planner, most active in the morning and fueled by caffeine. I may work off of Culture Monk’s example and start waking up painfully early to write (I wonder how early the coffee shop is open).

              Is your blog Steve G’s Martial Arts and Home Fitness Journey? That’s the blog I’m directed to when I click on your name. I’ll be sure to check out some of your posts. Fair warning, I’ve been told by some that I am a tough critic. I feel like there’s a message related to how I feel about my own writing there…

  2. Okay TK, because of my own particular personality this post of yours is one of my favorite yet of what I’ve read by you…….

    —) I’ve been obsessed with books and writing since the age of 9 or 10 just like you
    —) my best writing is EARLY in the morning with coffee….I’m up at bloody 4:30 – 5:30 am just to write…..and it’s so strange cuz I love to party late into the night…LOVE to party…so it’s not that I’m a “morning person” it’s just that I write best early in the morning with coffee
    —) c.s. Lewis said around the age of 30 that he felt like a failure in life because most great writers get published by their early 20s and yet at that time in his life he still wasn’t a published author……I feel like him most of the time…..although I finally finished a couple manuscripts, even though I had the opportunity to publish them via a very small (emphasis on very) I opted out cuz Im obsessed with being published by a major publisher (is it ego? I don’t think so……I just feel like the work I put into those manuscripts deserves more than just a small printing)

    My thoughts/solutions;

    —) don’t compare ourselves to other writers; are we as good or as eloquent? It doesn’t matter……just like with painters every artist has merit in what they do….we don’t have to paint like Michelangelo…cause there is only one Michelangelo…..and there is only one Tk (what’s your name again…tonya I think?) and there is only one Kenneth justice…etc

    —) compare ourselves to other writers; not in the sense of discouraging ourselves….but to learn from them, learn styles, ideas, strategy, etc

    —) hang out with writers……none of my college English Professors ever taught me this and they should have…I’ve noticed that when I hang out with published authors and English professors at the cafe’s I hang out at….that my writing gets better; did you ever read about the impressionists? Monet, Manet, Pizarro, cezanne, and others all hung out together at the same cafe in Paris; they talked, argued, debated, and went back home each night and painted: and they ended up being the most influential artists of their day……I’m currently trying to plan my first ever coffee house vacation where I go to Chicago, then Milwaukee, then minneapolis just to hang out with people from different cities who are writers: because I always meet writers at coffee houses….and I’m doing it to expand my own writing skills

    —) be weary of bloggers who are all about themselves and popularity; in the beginning I got sidetracked by spending too much time following bloggers who had huge followings but weren’t true writers/artists….it’s easy to write sensationalized stories about our sex experiences and days of partying and get people to read about it……and although there’s nothing wrong with writing about sex …even graphically; a lot of bloggers do so only because they are obsessed with getting followers because ultimately they are obsessed with themselves ; those kind of bloggers are a waste of time to follow because they aren’t true artists/writers….they are nothing but a cheap thrill and sadly they represent the majority of the popular bloggers who have the largest followings …..

    1. “…this post of yours is one of my favorite yet of what I’ve read by you”

      I’m humbled. Your response implies I’ve written something of worth in the past as well. Clearly I must be doing something right.

      As I have just recently entered the blogoverse, I’ve only just now started to follow other writers. When I was in high school, I made friends with other writers and you’re right. That’s when I felt most compelled to keep going. Some of my favorite concepts stem from those days.

      I could blame the holidays for taking up all my time, but the truth is I’d much rather sleep in, write from 10am until 3pm and then call it a day. That’s wishful thinking. I’ve been thinking about waking up earlier just to have that time to write. People will think I’m crazy for getting up so early, but people think I’m crazy anyway ^_^.

      (I’ve never met a writer whose sense of reality wasn’t a little skewed. Maybe it comes with the territory.)

      Thanks for the support. Now, if you excuse me, I think I will follow my own advice and get off my soapbox. These next few weeks are sure to be crazy, but once the holidays are over, nothing is stopping me from waking up at 4am (and going to bed by 10pm).

  3. Yes, Stevie G’s Martial Arts and Home Fitness Journey is my blog. Regarding your reply, I have two comments:

    1) Don’t worry about how long it might be until you have a draft. One thing you will find out from my writing is that, if there is one thing I am, it is patient.

    2) This is more like a question than a comment. Up above, in reference to me asking you to browse my blog, you gave me a warning about you being a tough critic. I’m not sure how that relates to reading LOL. After all, I’m not asking for a critique of how well I wrote my blog…just for you to comment on anything that inspires you to leave one.

    1. I guess I interpreted “hear your thoughts” as critique. It’s a question I get often. I’ve been in the mode lately due to a book review I’m working on and a friend who wants help with resumes and cover letters. Forgive me for my misinterpretation. That’s what I get for going back and forth between critique my friend’s work and responding to comments.

  4. There is no easy way.

    I did a writing class at university once. It’s not easy, but sometimes you just need to let your imagination run wild. Write about stuff, you can always come back to it later and cut out bits that you don’t want.

    Make sure you have some kind of idea of where you want it to go. Have an end in sight or you get lost in bog marsh of writing and writing and writing and not knowing when to stop because you don’t know where you want it to end up.

    Take some time away from life, cancel your weekend plans, find a comfy corner of the house where you don’t want to procrastinate and clean because you don’t know how to start writing and just DO IT!

    Once you start you’ll be fine =)

    1. “find a comfy corner of the house where you don’t want to procrastinate and clean because you don’t know how to start writing and just DO IT!”

      The word you are looking for is Café, because there is always something to distract me at home. That’s where I have found peace to write before.

      Thanks for the encouragement! Write I shall.

      1. Oh yes! Cafe’s are awesome for that. Plus you have coffee on tap!

        Good luck. Half the problem is getting over your own self fear about writing. We all have it.

        1. I feel like I’m at the precipice. Here I am, full of ideas, none of which have been turned into what I would call a substantial story. I’m so happy I started this blog now, because I want to remember this.

          If I know myself well enough, this will best the hardest stage. Once I have written a book, I will have proved I can do it. And I hope I will just keep doing it.

          I just have to get past this stage.

          1. Ideas have a way of distracting you.

            Choose your favourite one and run with it.

            Or do what I do and have a book where you note down all your ideas for stories. Then choose one and go from there.

            And you’re right, this is the hardest stage. Actually writing. Good luck 🙂

  5. I relate to every little bit of this (except the early morning thing– girl, you cray cray) <– forgive me for saying that.
    I knew I wanted to tell stories before I'd learned to read. Once I mastered reading, it was just a given that I'd be using all those words for telling stories. Fast forward about a thousand years and I'm sitting here with that same crippling self doubt. It used to be worse… I definitely felt like I needed to be some impressively young and talented person with a breakout novel in my early twenties, but… that just wasn't in the cards. I feel like I wasted a lot of time on angsting about it.
    Clearly I have no good advice for you 😉
    Everyone says the same thing: Write. When you can, every second you get. So do that. And tell me to do the same because I definitely don't follow it.
    But! I think there is a story in you. And you just need to chase it down and find a way to make it a top priority in your life, like a new relationship or something.

    1. I remember being in high school and learning about a an author who had published a ton of books. This particular author published her first book when she was 13.

      …and there I was, 16, the lazy ass too concerned about her math homework to write her epic story.

      I agree, there is a story in me. Actually, I’m pretty sure there are stories in me and they drive me crazy. I have to get them out on paper for my own sanity. Curse this life that fills my time with earning money so I can eat and shelter myself!

      Kidding. I’m very lucky to have the job I have.

      Clearly there is a story in you as well. Have you read your blog lately? You could probably make bank writing an autobiography. I want to read your stories, so start writing!

      1. Haha you are just a few years younger than me and I feel like at least the Writer Side of our brains are following the same path, ha. What was that kid who wrote all those dragon books? Eragon or something? He was like 16… I read the first one and it wasn’t that great but the fact it was doing well AND being made into a movie made me want to cry myself to sleep…

        And, I’m actually working on memoir-ish-ness now. Ugh. I’d rather write about dragons 😉

        1. I often tell myself “If Stephanie Meyer can write a book, so can you.”

          I’ve read my share of books that seem lacking. How does that stuff even get published?

          But then, who am I to criticize?

  6. I didn’t read any other comments because I was afraid it would mess up what was in my head, so if this is redundant I’m so sorry! I LOVE LOVE this post, you know I do, because we are so much alike! However, I am nearly twice your age and am just working on getting my first novel published. You are fine! You have plenty of time. Don’t set such high standards for yourself (which we all do, I get it). We writers are our own worst critics. The best writing advice I ever received was: write like no one is ever going to read it. I really try to do that. Whenever my mind starts to wander, and I start to picture what so ‘n so would think of this chapter/paragraph/passage, I just shoo it outta my head and pretend no one will ever read it but me. It works! Write what’s in your heart and people will love it. Write brave. Write courageous. Write untethered. WRITE. You are an amazing writer, I can tell just from your blog! It’s in your blood. Do the world a favor. Let it out. xoxoxo

    1. Thanks so much. All the comments this blog got fill me with confidence. This whole post was born when I discovered wine makes me sleepy… not creative. But they say to write drunk and edit sober! That’s just not me. I write on a caffeine high at 7am.

      It’s both comforting and terrifying to learn about the different ways writers do what they do. No one does it the same way. Which means no one can tell me how to write and that I can never be wrong in how I write.

      Thank you for your support and kind words. They made my day.

  7. I do what you do – when you said you edit prematurely. Its so frustrating. I get part way through and will throw out 20 or so pages because I have made too many changes, and then, after being discouraged for months I start over. I don’t know if that gives you any solace, but you’re not alone there.
    I actually remember meeting a writer on the train one time when I was little. She offered me the best advice, that I wish I could take (no idea why I don’t). “Know when to edit” she said. “and know when to stop”

    1. I found out that, if I use physical pen and paper to write, I don’t edit as much. I think it’s important to just avoid editing the first draft. It will suck, and that’s okay. I’m about four chapters in on my first draft and it’s all in a notebook. Here’s hoping I finish by the end of the year and start typing it up into something that looks like a real book!

      1. I’ll have to try that! I write more/better with paper and pen (I’m a “you want sleep? Not until you wrote me down” kind of writer ) but in the morning I always type it. I’ll hold off. Thanks for the tip 🙂

        1. You’re welcome. It’s been working for me. I went out and bought the largest notebook I could find and a bunch of sticky notes. The notes are for those random ideas, so I can stick them in the book. The note book is for actual story writing. When I finish this first draft, then I will type it.

            1. Sort of. I get a lot of ideas for later in the story, but I usually write them on sticky notes and stick them in my notebook for later. That way, I never lose an idea.

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