Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Being Efficiently Productive


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

Why am I an insecure writer this month?

Because it’s beginning to dawn on me that I may not have what it takes to be a productive writer.

You may wonder what I’m talking about. After all, I’m finishing up the edits on my debut urban fantasy, and I’m already deep into writing the sequel, so I am being productive. But I’m not being efficiently productive.

It took a depressingly high number of years just to get to this point in my writing career, and while that may not be all that unusual for early writers who are still learning the craft, I kind of figured things would begin speeding up at some point. Unfortunately, after spending all of January working on my revisions, my progress has been dismal.
I’m a slow writer, and that doesn’t change when I’m in editing mode. In particular, I find it especially difficult to make significant changes to a scene that I already deemed finished. Not that the problems pointed out by my editor aren’t real, but trying to reimagine the way to write a scene after it’s already been put down on paper (or hard drive) is amazingly hard for me. I stare at the words for hours at a time without a clue. I pound away at the words for days or weeks, trying this and trying that, seeing what sticks to the wall. Usually with little success.

Eventually, I hit that paradigm shift that allows me to see how the scene should be written. It’s my Eureka! moment. My vision clears. The seas part. I breathe a sigh of relief, then get on with the writing. But up until that “a-ha” moment, I’ve done nothing but bang my head against a stone wall.

But that’s my process. It’s who I am, so I can’t do too much about it. What really bothered me this month is the realization that part of the reason my revising has been so slow is because I’ve been avoiding my manuscript. I spent way too much time doing chores around the house or watching TV shows or checking out social media or sleeping. Anything to avoid sitting down in front of that laptop and facing that damn stone wall. If I’d just forced my butt into that chair and concentrated more often, I might have been finished my now.
And that’s on me.

In these heady days where a person who only writes three books a year is considered to be a slow writer, I’m absolutely glacial. If I hope to have any success with this writing thing, I’ll need a lot more determination and grit. Some way of making myself write even when the writing is tough. That’s what real writers do.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 



  1. Here's to more parting seas during your writing journey.

  2. Ken, I believe you described me in your blog today. At least your struggle seems very similar to my own. I hope you find success and more and more a-ha moments.

  3. I'm glacial too and am not sure I want to spend all the time it'd take to write a book in a year. Forget writing one in three months. That's why I'm not sure I want to be published some day. I like doing other things, like watching TV, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Good luck figuring out what's right for you.

  4. What's slower than glacial? That's me. Been seven years since my last book. So don't be so hard on yourself. The solutions for fixing the issues will come if you think on them a while.

  5. I think I'd probably just ping my editor and ask for suggestions on incorporating her edits. That's part of the biz, after all! You're doing a great job...keep plugging away.

  6. It's hard because you are new to it. Each time you succeed, you're a little better. Although you're not seeing it yet. Think of it as rewiring your brain. Let the pathways form. Cut yourself some slack and know the more you practice, the better you'll get.

    (Just like your students)

    And nothing worth doing is easy. :-)

    You can do this.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  7. Don't fight who you are as a writer. Just accept it and work with it.

  8. I think each writers finds their own pace. I know writers who write 5,000 words per day, but I can't do that. A small suggestion to try for a few days. Don't write at home. Go to a cafe or coffee shop where you can't be distracted by chores. It works for me.

  9. I've heard a lot about that three books a year thing too. I know a lot of writers who don't write that fast and who are doing just fine with their writing careers. Work at the pace that makes sense for you. The book will be better, and your readers will be happier as a result.

  10. You've got this! Keep in mind that the fast publishing pace is just one strategy. There a re a lot of us authors who only publish one or two books total, and others who publish once a year, and some who write out a whole series, then publish it all back to back, and still others who release sections each month and then publish a paperback. There's lots of ways to do this and you will find the one that works best for you. But BUTT in CHAIR is a legit struggle.

    I found, for writing, a good cheat for me was to dictate while I did chores. Led to a lot more editing but allowed me to find a good method to get my story down when my brain just refused to follow the storyline.

    As for editing, I don't have tips. I like prowiritngaid before it goes to my editor, but once I get notes back..... I'm as stuck as you. *hugs*