Hey! Happy 100th post to us! Thanks for following us and helping us reach this point! Here’s a look at our top 5 favorite blog posts we’ve shared with you:
- Tips on Writing Believable Military Characters
- These Are Not the Character Traits You Are Looking For: Make Your Main Character Likeable
- Play the Publishing Game By Knowing the Rules
- Why it’s (a Little Bit) Okay You Don’t Write Every Day
- What Confidence Means to Me on Off-Days
Again, it’s been so much fun to write these and other blog posts for you and the plan is to keep doing it!
Okay, this post is largely inspired by some of my most recent Pinterest searches and results, and the affects some of the articles can have on our self-esteem. I follow a lot of Pinterest boards from other writers that talk about the craft of writing—and I’ve noticed some of the tactics these blog writers use are a bit harsh.
Titles like, “Why Your Main Character Sucks” or “How to Get Your Audience From Losing Interest” is interestingly worded; based on the title, it sounds like the blog writers already assume that you’ve failed at a certain writing point; and those who read them are often not even finished with their draft but assume these problems exist in their writing. You can even judge the title I used to talk about character traits in our top 5 posts—although I tried to make it clear in the introduction that the post is just as much for me as it is for my writers (I try really to avoid hypocrisy, promise!).
As a writer and editor, I’m well acquainted with my own writing insecurities. I’m also aware of my friends’ insecurities in the way they warn me before editing that “I know X, Y, Z already suck,” or they say, “I’m afraid people will think ____ about my book.” Can I just say that insecurities like this will eventually lead to editing the same novel for a decade like yours truly? Can I also say these insecurities come back when I read indie books from my friends and see how wonderful their writing is and how unfinished mine is?
No matter where you are in the writing or publishing process, if you’ve ever felt like you don’t deserve to be here, if you don’t think you have what it takes, or you feel like you’re “fooling” everyone in your success, you might have impostor syndrome. It also sounds like: “Why does everyone think my book will sell? I’m sure publishing companies will reject me or people will only buy my book if it’s 99 cents on Amazon.” Or, “Everyone thinks I’ll make it, but this book will never be done.” Or, “I have nothing to offer my audience.” It’s more common than you think, but writers can and should be more resilient in acknowledging their success, talents, and strengths.
Is Your Writing Really the Worst?
I haven’t even read your work and I can tell you it can’t ever be the worst. As in, if you dedicate that much time to your craft and you’re actively writing, it just can’t be horrible. Maybe not the best, but way better than the person who has never tried to write a novel. Think of Jackson Pollock paintings; anyone could look at his work and say, “My five-year-old can do that. There’s no way they’re worth that much.” Well, kids can paint like Pollock, but Pollock refined the art and he’s the one that was famous for it—he did the work. Even if you think someone else can do what you can do, it doesn’t take away from the fact that you’re acing at what you set out to do.
Mayhaps the impostor syndrome is synonymous or at least kissing cousins with perfectionism. We want to create amazing stories, so it has to come out perfectly to deserve a perfect publishing experience. (Has that worked for anyone yet?)
I personally think that if you are super unsure about your abilities as a writer or storyteller, wait to edit or fix things until the whole thing is there to inspect. I’m not saying that because you’re a writer that your work is always going to be flawless, but those blog posts will only actually help when you have a complete draft to work with.
Better yet, get professional advice—someone else that works in the same genre and industry as you. Get in a writing group to get out of your head. They will be able to better judge your progress and can hopefully give you more insight on how your manuscript could fit in the market. Even still, you’re the boss-writer; if someone tells you to work on something, take the advice for what it’s worth and only make the changes if you agree with them. Your knowledge of your world and characters will help you know for sure.
Where Does Writing Success Come From?
I read more into impostor syndrome and found something interesting: based on research, men are more likely to attribute their success on internal things, like their innate talents, time put into the project, or their education that they’ve earned themselves—and often attribute failure to outside resources such as difficulty of the task or luck/destiny. Women often think backwards in this regard. Maybe this whole self-doubt thing is a female thing? I don’t know, but I think we have the power to turn that around. If you want to see more books you want to read on the shelves, you gotta believe you’re the one who can put them there.
If we feel self-doubt, we should start thinking about what we define as success and where it comes from. For many, just holding a paperback copy of their work is success enough; they wrote something they bothered to print out—and it feels real! For others, it’s making consistent bank on the novel or series you paid someone to help you edit and polish. For me, I’ll know I’ve reach the peak of success when they have children’s party favors with my characters on them.
Impostor syndrome doesn’t really go away, no matter how successful you become at life. But have faith, friends! You’re not alone. Train yourself to take credit for the hard work you put yourself through. Celebrate your victories and keep your chin up when things are tough.
Remember, you wanted to be a writer; don’t let doubt take the fun out of creating memorable characters and worlds. What do you do to avoid self-doubt?