Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First Wednesday.. Insecure Writer's Support Group

So today is my very first foray into the Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop.. but I feel like I'm an old pro just off my old posts already.

You Have A Friend In Failure
What Are Your Excuses?
Treading Water or Body Surfing?

Sorta feel like I should say something about how, I'm not just the President of the Insecure Writers.. I'm also a client.

Hell, the name of my blog is Graphophobia.. which literally means A Fear of Writing.  So for my first entry into this storied tradition of my fellow timid scribes, I thought I'd just put a toe in to test the water, in the spirit of insecurity.

I am a voracious reader, a day can't pass without me reading at least for 30 minutes or so before I got to sleep. However this seems to be a double-edged sword for me because often it seems I read books from authors that I greatly respect and admire.. and inevitably I find myself looking at their writing and comparing it to my own drivel and coming away muttering something about having been weighed in the balances and found wanting.

I know it's not fair to expect my writing, as a novice writer, to measure up at this stage. I haven't put in my esoteric 'million words' yet.. my stripes have not been earned. Also I know that I'm comparing a rough draft, possible a second or third rewrite with a piece of writing that has been gone over dozens of times by the author and professionals at the publishing company.

In other words.. I realize that it's an unfair comparison. Doesn't change the way it impacts me, however. I look at their literature, and my feeble attempts, and I shrink inside my own mind.

Now.. I have improved over the past year or so over how I used to react in those situations. As I said, I know very well that it's a total apples to orange comparison. The problem is, even with that knowledge.. it still has an impact.

I've actually considered not reading while I'm in the process of writing a 1st draft or a 1st or second edit.  But that just seems unrealistic as I always seem to find myself in one of those various stages at this point in my life as a writer.

So I guess, where I'm headed with this for any other Insecure Writer's who stumble upon this blog is.. have you experienced anything similar.. and how did you deal with it? Did you simply outgrow it, or did you find some other way to deal with it.. or is it something that you just have to learn to deal with over time?

I promise, all my posts in this hop won't be so negative.. but this one was the freshest in my mind, so there you have it.


25 comments:

  1. Kevin, it's like you've read my mind with your topic this week. I'm currently in the throes of writer envy as we speak. It happens to me all the time. Given that I have the word obsession in my blog name, it's expected that I'm a bit nuts when ti comes to this sort of thing. Let me put your worries into a bit of perspective. Whenever I read a book that I think is a hundred kinds of awesome, I jump on to Goodreads and then read other people's reviews of said book. If these reviews are generally positive, that sends me into a bit of a tailspin as well. I too have considered not reading at all whilst I write, but that's so hard to do when you have a reading addiction. Sadly and very un-neighborly of me, I think that it helps if I go on to read a successful book that I don't think is very well written. And if all else fails, I jump on my blog and have a god old whinge. I've pasted a link to a previous post of mine that deals with this very topic. Hope the reader comments help you out.

    The Write Obsession

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    1. Thank you so much Lan. It's helpful to know I'm not the only one so afflicted.

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  2. Excellent place to start. Comparisons are the daggers that stab at every creative's heart. The best is to really think about what you admire in the other writer/artist, and not try to mimic them, but find your own way to shine. Reading is the number one place to start when you're working at being a good writer.
    Go. Create. Inspire!
    Play off the Page

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    1. Mary, thank you for the sage advice. I honestly appreciate you taking the time to post it.

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  3. Welcome to the IWSG! Every writer compares themselves to the great writers they love, it's a natural human response. But use them as inspiration; you may not be at their level yet, but you could be.

    If that fails, read some really bad books and swell your ego with the knowledge that you could do much better!

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    1. If that fails, read some really bad books and swell your ego with the knowledge that you could do much better!

      Angeline.. THANK YOU! I needed a good chuckle after the heavy post of mine, and what you wrote is funny, but made moreso because I really think there's a kernel of truth in it. I've absolutely got my list of 'Icandobetter' authors that I read and visit their blogs even on occasion. It does help me feel better too. Thanks again for posting! :)

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  4. Welcome to the group!

    It's so easy to compare our writing to others, even though we shouldn't. Sometimes I'll read something that is so brilliant I think I could never write like that. Then sometimes I have the opposite feeling that mine can be just as good, if I work at it. So keep working! And don't give up reading because it will make you a better writer too. :)

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    1. Do I ever compare myself to my favorite authors and think what's the point - I'll never be that good? Every Freakin' day!

      I think it's normal and, in some ways good, for us to compare ourselves to others. It gives us the drive to improve and perfect our craft.

      But, we all have our own voice and that's what's important - finding your voice and strengthening it. You won't be like any other writer - you'll be yourself and that's a good thing! We should strive to be different IMHO.

      Michelle :)
      www.michelle-pickett.com/blog

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  5. Having just finished The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, I know exactly how you feel!

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  6. Oh the twisted, tortured life of a writer... It's a constant cycle of ups and downs, loving your work and then hating it five minutes later... It's hard to shut out the negative that wants to creep in... but I think the key is facing what you know are your weaknesses, swallowing them, and then making them your strengths.

    Whenever I'm reading a book that makes me feel this way, I have to remember that my writing has a uniqueness to it that the other author's doesn't. And vise versa. Not to embarrass you Kevin, but I'm positive that so many writers out there have read your excerpts on this blog and have felt exactly the way you just described *winks*

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    1. Oh you.. you're just saying that because I'm holding your book ransom.

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  7. I totally get where you're coming from, but you have to think of it in different terms. When you read something you love and admire, study what it is exactly that impacts you. I love similes, but alas, I am not very good at them. Whenever I come across a good one, I jot it down in my iPhone notebook. I refer back to those examples quite often when I'm trying my own hand at one. It's inspiring, and that's what these other works of great novel writing should be for you, inspiring, not something to compare yourself to and come up feeling less of a writer. I've read a bit your stuff for Rachael Harrie's challenges and I think you have a remarkable gift. So just try to be yourself and don't compare your skill to anyone else's. You are unique and talented. And welcome to the IWSG!

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    1. Thanks Nancy. I actually do try to do that, I try to figure out what that writer is doing that I relate to so well, and then try to incorporate it into my own writing style. In fact, my wife told me just the other day that she was sick of me asking, "What was it about that book that you liked."

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  8. Glad to see you joined the group and I am looking forward to doing some more snooping around in your blog. Nancy covered most of what I would have said to you. It is dangerous to compare yourself to other writers. Keep your own voice and don't get lost in someone elses.

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  9. Comparison is definitely a double-edged sword. I'm curious as to whether you're reading these other books as a reader or writer. The comparisons are subtly different--for me anyway. When I read as a writer the comparison falls into the areas of mechanics, word choices, devices and other skills that take years to master. When I read as a reader the comparisons broaden further to include plot, imagery, storytelling power and numerous other vague measures that are difficult to quantify. Both are valuable and overlap each other everywhere, but comparing published work to my own gives me something to strive toward despite the fear that I'll never "measure up" to it.

    Does it make me insecure? You bet.
    Does it inspire me to improve? Always.

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    1. Thanks for the reply Jeff. Honestly I've wondered that same thing about myself, (reading as a reader or writer).. I think I read through a first time as a reader, for pure enjoyment, and then I reread as a writer to see what the author did and how they did it. I don't think I've ever read a book just once.. I'm pretty consistent at reading books multiple times.

      I too feel inspiration, I just wish that it didn't sometimes come with a side-order of insecurity.

      Thanks.

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  10. negative is natural, thats what this support group is for! whine all you want!

    and i thought graphaphobia was fear of graphs, of course! ha ha ha! i cant believe no one else admitted that! or maybe its just me...

    keep reading! it helps, it inspires, it's part of the learning =)

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    1. Thanks Tara.. I'll save up all my monthly whines to share with you all. :)

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  11. Same here...so you're definitely not alone.
    By the way, congrats! You're the first in both People's Choice of Award and the judging one...so you're one step ahead! Kudos for that!=)

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    1. Thanks RaeAnn. It helps to know that others not only can relate, but are going through the same thing.

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  12. Kevin, I think that all writers have the same worry and insecurites about their work, artists do as well. You will never find an artist who is 100% happy with their finished work, there is always something they want to fix up! But there comes a time when enough is enough and the editing and re-writing needs to stop and the work submitted!

    I am here to let you know that you have been tagged by me to take part in Lucky Se7en Meme! Show that WIP!

    Check out my site for details - http://cmbrown-books.blogspot.com.au/

    Hey I would also like to say congratulations on your win in the first challenge!

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  13. I'll read others' works and fall in love with their prose, but to be honest I know it's kinda pointless for me to emulate them because I can't do the same. You're tagged over at my blog too, for the same thing that Ms. Brown tagged you for. You just have to do it once, but I figure I'd let you know you made my list.

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  14. There are a lot of good books out there written by different authors with varying styles. Your writing can stand on its own even if it's in a different style than someone whose writing you admire. So give yourself some credit! =)

    By the way, Kevin, I am tagging you for 3 blogger awards, if you're interested. For more info, visit: readisthenewblack.blogspot.com/2012/03/i-won-some-awards.html
    I look forward to reading more fun facts about you.

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  15. Kevin, let me ask you this, do you really have a fear of writing? Is it the actual act of writing that you are afraid of? I'm asking because I'm a closet writer. I'm not afraid of writing, hell, I'd write all day long if I could. But, only a handful of people offline and close to me know I write and that includes my folks and editor. Where I have issues is letting anyone read my work (my own Mother hasn't even read my stuff and not because it's inappropriate). Anyway, I've seen it called a social phobia (fear of being judged by others), not to be confused with graphophobia, which like you said is literally the fear of writing.

    In any event, from what I've been able to sample of your writing, you are very talented and have a way with words that makes reading exciting. What ever you do, don't stop. And congrats on the blogger awards! (:

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Guess what time of year it is.... FIRST DRAFT TIME!!!