Writer’s Doubt

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Banish writer’s doubt? Or not?

In a recent guest blog post I was asked what my least favorite part of the writing process is. My answer was “getting my manuscript back from the editor.”

I learned I’m far from alone in that aspect. I also learned that even famous authors feel that way.

There are numerous blog posts and chapters in writing books dedicated to writer’s doubt and what all those red marks from an editor do our writer’s self esteem. It pretty much demolishes it for a spell. It knocks a writer on his/her fanny. The important thing is that we get back up. Immediately.

I recently got a manuscript back from an editor with a publishing company. It had a lot of red and requested changes. My initial reaction was…

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But after I took the time to process the disappointment, I was able to focus on the positive and move forward. The positive comments the editor made held far more weight, kicking self-doubt to the curb. Well, mostly. 🙂

“I couldn’t put the partial down. I rarely say that so sit back, take a breath, and smile.”

“You have a nice, easy writing style and things flow quite nicely. Your gift for dialogue is great. It’s easy and natural like the people are sitting in my living room bantering or fighting back and forth.”

“The thing to keep in mind is that the mechanics of writing can always be fixed, but not everyone can do what you’ve done, come up with such a unique story and make it work.”

After making the suggested changes, I’ll be looking at a contract. (Yay!)

Since writer’s doubt is so prevalent among fragile writer’s egos, I’ve collected the following quotes that help me, and I hope will help you, too.


Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.
Barbara Kingsolver

Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.                     Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

I feel self-doubt whether I’m doing something hard or easy. Sigourney Weaver

I think self-doubt, as grim as it can be, makes me a better writer. Stasis and hubris would probably be the death knell for my career. Kristan Higgins

I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.
Erica Jong

The writer who loses his self-doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, to prolixity, should stop writing immediately: the time has come for him to lay aside his pen. 
Colette, Earthly Paradise

Writing was a defeat, it was a humiliation, it was coming face-to-face with yourself and seeing you weren’t good enough.
Karl Ove Knausgård, Min kamp 5

The best writers I’ve read possess oodles of self-doubt, yet claw their way up with each work and remain humble. Boastful ones, not so much.
Don Roff

Bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt.  Charles Bukowski


After reading the quotes by Kristan Higgins and Don Roff, self-doubt isn’t all bad. As long as it doesn’t cripple you from creating, from moving forward, and from truly living.

Write on.

 

Permission to Write

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This past weekend I was fortunate to attend a writer’s conference in Niwot, CO, hosted by Rachel Weaver, founder of  Colorado Writing School. I went with enthusiasm for what I might learn and came away with so much more than that. I came away with a head chock full of knowledge, a soul with renewed energy, a heart with renewed passion for the craft, and most important of all, validation for why I do what I do. A hall pass.

We writers are an insecure lot, and if we’re not making a lot of money at what we’re doing, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wondering if our time spent writing is frivolous and if we should be doing something “important” instead. Despite five published books, another due out by the end of the year, it’s a rut I fall back into frequently, like the gutters my bowling balls rolled into when I used to bowl.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft (a book I highly recommend for writers of all levels) states that only approximately 5% of writers can support themselves and their families with their writing. Considering his book was published in 1999, eighteen years ago, that the number of writers has grown exponentially with the boom of self-publishing, and  the cost of living has gone up, that percentage is likely even lower today. Does that mean those of us who fall into the less than 95 percentile should pack it up and stop writing? Absolutely not!

Going to conferences or writer’s workshops gives me permission, if you will, to do what I love to do. My day job is a job. It’s my vocation. Writing is my avocation. My passion. And being in a room filled with other writers, those who find joy and fulfillment in the written word and telling stories, doesn’t only make that okay for me, it makes it healthy and good. And  Lord knows we can never have enough goodness.

Conferences and workshops provide the power of brainstorming with each other, the room alive from the electrical energy of so much creativity in one place. In one of the sessions I attended, the writing prompts and exercises produced the synopsis for book two in the Whispering Pines Mysteries. That, alone, made it a success. 🙂

Lunch was spent with Kerrie Flanagan, author, presenter, and writing consultant, who shared invaluable insight. Another was an agent panel with Becky LeJeune and Shana Kelly, who also had invaluable advice when querying. A writer cannot get these nuggets of gold camped out in an office with the door closed.

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Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. In a profession where most of us are introverts, finding comfort within the walls of our home office or tucked comfortably behind a computer screen, conferences and workshops offer a way for us to interact with people to “get” us. They provide connections to others in the industry. And it’s even enjoyable for us introverts!

So write on.  Go create. Get your stories out into the world. Permission granted.

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.           W. Somerset Maugham

 

 

 

 

Book Launch Partytime

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This past Saturday was my book launch for not one, but two books. Finding Abby was released in November. Life got in the way and I didn’t advertise, promote, nothing. With my recent release, Shear Malice, book three in the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series, I decided to have a double release. And better yet, sharing it with a fellow author, Donna Schlachter and her alter ego, Leeann Betts. What a better way to celebrate literary success than with a fellow author!

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In each Melanie Hogan mystery I include a recipe from Nana’s kitchen. The recipe for Shear Malice is Nana’s Scrumptious Chocolate Zucchini Brownies. To stick with the theme, I made some for the launch party. While baking a recipe from scratch takes longer than opening a box, the results were amazing and well worth the time!

Next up? An author event in October with some cozy mystery authors. The planned theme is Cozy With Tea–a variety of hot teas, scones, a fire in the fireplace, and books, books, books.

And now it’s back to Camp. Camp NaNo, that is. A time for relaxation and fun, with virtual bonfires, smores, and campfire chatter with other campers. I’m sharing a virtual cabin with several fellow writers from the Longmont and Boulder area, and creating book four in the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series, Shear Murder.

More to follow…

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See you next week. Until then…

 

Carpe diem