Dealing With Writing Insecurity
This topic has been weighing on me for a while. I try to keep my posts relatively upbeat -- even when I'm wrangling with my story -- but now that I've finished my latest draft, I finally have the energy to tackle this subject.
I noticed while I was working on my latest draft that I've been disengaging with the writing and reading communities. And I realized that this wasn't a new behaviour either; it's been happening since I started writing my novel. I just wasn't overtly aware of my reactions until now.
At first, I didn't even think there was a problem. After all, I have this blog and a Tumblr account where I give writing updates. I have friends with whom I regularly talk about my novel, and who share their writing with me too. And whenever I see writeblrs on Tumblr, I get a very strong urge to reblog their posts or engage in their writing memes. Whenever I hear about writing groups, I get a spark of excitement.
But at the end of the day, I don't introduce myself to any of the writeblrs I find. I never join any writing groups, even the ones highly recommended by trusted friends. It seems like I'm only excited about joining these groups in theory, but not in practice.
The thing is, there's a difference between writing on my blogs and mingling in a community. In communities, I can't just talk about myself and my WIP. I actually have to be engage with other participants; I have to listen to them and their work. In a writing community, I am exposed to the works and efforts of so many other people. And that's when my brain starts its awful chatter.
There's this ugly voice in my head that compares my work to theirs. If I see someone writing something very different from my story, my brain goes, "Oh look, their idea is so much better. It's so much more current and marketable." If I see someone writing something similar to mine, my brain goes, "There's only one space in the market for that kind of idea, and they are more likely to fill it in than you." If there's someone who's ahead in the writing process, I'd think, "Wow, I'm so lazy. I can't believe I'm only still in the drafting stages. This person is 10 years younger than me, and they already have 2 books out!" And if there's someone who's still in the brainstorming stage, I feel threatened by their potential.
It's gotten to a point where sometimes I'm too uncomfortable to go on Goodreads. When I see all the new releases, my brain scolds me that I should have finished my story by now. That I'm either not writing about the same trends that these books have, or that I'm writing something completely cliche. I don't know how my brain manages to think both of those at the same time, but it doesn't let me win either way.
I just don't know why I feel like this. Objectively, I know I shouldn't be comparing myself to them. We've all heard those proverbs and sayings and Pinterest-worthy slogans about comparisons, about minding our own business, about just doing our own thing.
And I know that. And my reaction is to hit the back-button on those blogs, to turn away from those writing groups, to cancel meet-ups, to ignore the new releases, and just "work on my own thing."
But that leaves me exactly where I've always been: writing by myself in a journey that is mostly solitary. And sometimes I just wonder if there will ever be a way for me to meaningfully engage with the writing and reading communities again without secretly feeling bad about myself.