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Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) - 3 Year Anniversary

Holy Bookends! 3 Years. Now I Really Feel Insecure:

As you all know, Alex Cavanaugh, created this group . What you may not know is that the IWSG is celebrating its 3rd Anniversary.  And next month will mark the one year anniversary for the IWSG Website and the creation of the Insecure Writers Support Group Facebook Page.

Thank you Alex. You have always welcomed new writers and you continue to support writers of all genres and in various stages of our writing careers.

This month Alex's cohost are Laura Clipson over at My Baffling Brain, Mark Koopmans, over in Hawaii (where I want to be),Shah Wharton and Sheena - kay Graham. I've known Mark for some time, but since I'e been away from blogging for too long, I haven't had the pleasure of getting to know Alex's other cohost and I will introduce myself to them today and extend a personal thank you.

What am I insecure about now?

And ... Why am I so ashamed to share my insecurities with others? Why do I continue to wear the false brave mask?

That's an easy one. While this three year anniversary is a remarkable milestone and I am honored to have participated (intermittently -- I admit), I can't help but focus on the number. Three long years that I've been writing, rewriting, scratching, starting over, pulling my thrown away novel out of the trash bin and revising again ... and again ... and again. Still, I don't seem to be any further along than I was three years ago,

Now I know that isn't true. I'm feeling sorry for myself and acting melodramatic. If I truly consider how far I've come, then I know that my writing craft has drastically improved. See Alex, this post forced me to focus on what I've learned and I'm already feeling better. 

I've made friends and contacts, attended a writers conference and I've written a complete novel. Is my novel ready for the world to see  , agents to read? I don't know. I do know that when I first started writing my novel I didn't know a thing about point of view or that I was head hopping within my scenes.  I didn't even really know what a scene was, if I'm brutally honest. Not in the sense of a scene and a sequel. I was clueless about the art and science of story structure. Yup, I've learned quite a bit.

So, what is my problem then?

I don't know and therein lies my deep rooted insecurity. I suppose I don't feel like my writing is good enough to make it. There. I've said it.

I struggle daily. I read mostly thrillers, suspense and mysteries and I write crime fiction. I completed my first draft almost a year ago . I've learned so much from so many bloggers, authors, agents and others through their blog post and on Twitter and I try and adapt every new piece of knowledge to my own work and I end up having to restructure or rewrite entire chunks of my novel.

My biggest problem is the opening. We've all heard it a million times -- you only get one page or a half page or one line to hook your reader, agent or publisher, so it better be a winner. So I write my killer opening for my killer thriller and let someone read it and they don' think I've started as strongly as I could have. Someone, usually a person I truly admire, respect and trust will tell me that my opening chapter isn't catchy enough. It's not suspenseful enough for a thriller. The advice I get is along the lines of, "this is a thriller. Start with a bada ... bada ... bada badass bang!"

So, I rewrite my opening chapter. I write the first murder scene. First I try it from the villain's chilling POV, then I write it again from the victim's point of view. Yes. I like this one. It's raw and fresh and readers can feel the the victim's emotions. This is it. I've found my opening. So I show it to another trusted, experienced writer and I hear that I've jumped into the dramatic story much too soon. "You didn't give me a chance to even get to know any of the characters. How can I care about someone I know nothing about?"

Both of the above suggestions are correct. How do I find a balance?

So, back to the writing board I go for another trip on the nauseating merry - go - round. The ride of insecurity. I must learn to trust my own writing and my choices and not get so caught up in the well- meaning comments and suggestions of those kind enough to offer critiques.

Advice to self and others ... Let's see what happens if we don't give up.

What are you feeling insecure about? 


Melissa Sugar said...

What am I insecure about? I think you've pretty much covered what goes on inside my head :) x

Melissa Sugar said...

I'm sorry! Sucks when you get conflicting reactions every time.
You have improved over three years though. And had access to so much information and the wisdom of other writers. I never had that. I didn't even have a web presence until after signing my first book. Talk about an awakening!

Melissa Sugar said...

Welcome back, Melissa. Have you finished the story? If not, my suggestion is don't worry about the beginning until you've reached the end. By that time, you probably will figure out where the story needs to start. I still regret where I began one of my books. I followed the advice of someone I trust. Listen to your heart and begin the story where it feels right--for you.

Melissa Sugar said...

You can't please everyone, but it's important to please yourself. Write the beginning you want to read.

Melissa Sugar said...

I agree with Miranda. Write the beginning you think is best. Trust your instincts. You can always get an editor to point out the flaws later. I have found that though the advice of fellow writers are invaluable, each one has a different style and opinion and if you trust that alone, you are going to be making changes your whole life. Rather ask someone who reads books in the genre you write for and who represents your target audience, (non-writer preferably.) They have read many books and can honestly tell you how your book stacks up against others in the genre. I have found this works better for me and I will be following that root soon again.

Please don't lose confidence and allow your writing to suffer. Hang in there. Sending you plenty of virtual hugs.

Melissa Sugar said...

ARGH! Nail on head. That first paragraph and sentiments resonates with me. All I can think is - what has happened in three years? Nothing to show the world. Yes, I think my writing has grown in those years and I've learned stuff too but those three years went by too fast!

On a side note: all your links open into a new window, when I click on the blog title, click to leave a comment. It's troublesome to have three windows open for one activity.

Melissa Sugar said...

Oh, the delicate balance that is the opening. We need action, action, action, right out the gate... but we also need to know why we're reading what we're reading and why we should care, aka description and back story.

As the others have said, just write for you and focus on what YOU think is the best opening. Agents always seem to like to say that you need an opening that's just an instant barrage of action otherwise readers won't get 'hooked', and yet all of the popular mainstream books I've read as of late have a relatively slow start that focuses on description/back story.

So write for you and just remember that when it comes to the so-called "golden rules of writing", a great novel can break any of those rules and still be great.

Melissa Sugar said...

We all struggle with this Melissa. But getting your work in front of other readers /writers is crucial. You just can't see things in your own work after awhile.


Melissa Sugar said...

It is amazing to look back at how far you've come. Maybe it's about focusing on what we've accomplished and how much we've grown in our writing talent during that time. That's all we can control. The rest of it is so frustrating!

Melissa Sugar said...

Melissa! I've missed you, my friend. I'm so glad you let me know you were back in the blogosphere.

As for your insecurity post, I totally understand. Even when you publish independently—or maybe especially when you publish independently—there's that obsessive need to perfect. Just one more tweak. Just a little more feedback...

It's easier said than done, but you have to go with your gut and trust that doors are constantly closing and opening. :)

Melissa Sugar said...

Be stubborn. Write the opening the way you want it written. Everyone will have a differing opinion, and you can't please them all. Trust yourself!

Melissa Sugar said...

Hey, so I answered your comment on this subject, or attempted to at least, over on my blog (rather belatedly). Hope it helps.

Moody Writing

Melissa Sugar said...

I can relate a lot to the feeling of not being good enough. (It's something I struggle with constantly with my art.) As for openings, what makes one "good" or "bad" is always so subjective, so I agree, it's best to just trust your own instincts, ultimately!

Melissa Sugar said...

Great post. I can totally relate.
1. To the writing for 3+ years and not feeling like I've gotten anywhere. But also realizing how far I've come in my writing.

2. I don't do thrillers, but I had the same issue about jumping into the action to quickly. In my case it's a girl witnessing her mother' being abused by the boyfriend. I just added to the scene, hopefully giving a little time to get to know my character some more.

Melissa Sugar said...

I've been writing for six years and still have a lot to learn. I think writers never stop learning. I struggle with a list of things, but you know what? Learning is so much fun, right?
Grrr. The opening! I write and rewrite mine about 20 times before I even start chapter two XD lol.

Melissa Sugar said...

I think just about every writer can totally empathize with you! HANG IN THERE. You will get it and then you will be so happy. Openings are tough and there's a lot of stress because we're told all the time (rightly) how important they are. You will find the balance. :D

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