Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Insecure Writer - Part II

Today is my December's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an insecure writer this month?


Yes. Reading.

We’re all told that to be good writers, we need to be good readers. Read as many books as you can, they say. It’s good for you. See how published writers write. It will make you a better writer.

Perhaps. But it also makes me a depressed writer.

I read books on story structure and discover how poorly my story is structured.

I read books on the do’s and don’ts of fiction writing and find my story is chock full of don’ts.

I read fiction and discover how much more fluid everyone else’s writing is compared to mine.

The first two problems I can handle. It may take lots of practice, and oodles of time revising, but for the most part, everything I’ve read on how fiction works makes sense to me. I believe I can put together an interesting plot. I believe I can arrange my story so that I hit all the proper beats at the appropriate times. I’m confident I have an active enough imagination so that I’ll never run out of ideas about which to write.

It’s the last problem that keeps me up at night. Almost every time I read fiction, I’m reminded of how much better everyone else is at wielding words. Even in books that I find flawed (poor structure, too many dialogue tags, large wads of backstory, etc.), the authors still have a way with words that makes me envious. And I have no reason to assume that I’ll ever be able to do anything about it – no matter how much I practice.

So please forgive me if I don’t read any other fiction this month. I'll be much happier for it in 2012.

P.S. But I'll still keeping reading the writing how-to books.


  1. I completely understand. Sometimes, reading just makes you feel bad about where you're at. I say, let it inspire you, too! Take a break from the reading and focus on enjoying your writing :)

  2. I once read a book and thought 'I could do better than that'. Now, I read many books and think @I'll never write as well as that'. I keep that first book on my bookshelf for when I'm feeling especially low. And remember, we are our own harshest critics.

  3. Even with a second book coming out next month, I still think my words and flow suck next to other authors. Not sure if that ever goes away. Although I do feel I've made progress in my writing.
    Thanks for joining the IWSG! I really like the look of your blog.

  4. Wow, I can absolutely relate to this. I think my insecurities of my writing in the face of other authors is to blame for the sharp decrease in the number of books I've read in the past 2 years. I'm still trying to find the balance between reading for enjoyment and not for picking apart the ways my work sucks. :)