Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Do You Believe In Your Writing?



Hello, Go Teen Writers! We're doing Q & A panels this summer. We answer a question, then pass it on to you. Please share your answer in the comments so we can all learn from each other.

Today we have a question that is sometimes hard to answer honestly aloud, but I think you'll see from the answers is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We all struggle in the area of self-confidence.





Do you believe in your writing?


Jill Williamson
Sometimes. 

This goes back to that question about being a confident or an anxious writer. It’s all about how we view ourselves. It's about our identity and how we define that identity. Where we find our worth. I have some deep wounds from my childhood that formed lies that have made me insecure about a lot of things. Oddly enough, I’m also extremely hardworking and stubborn. So while I might doubt myself on a daily (hourly?) basis, I continually dive headfirst into the fire anyway. That’s who I am. I need to be creating. It gives me joy. I think it goes back to my tendency to daydream. For me, my fantasy is safe. Nothing can hurt me there. This makes it sometimes difficult to live in the real world, since the real world doesn’t work like a fantasy world. People don't behave the way I want them to in the real world. Still, while I believe in myself, and I believe I “can” do anything I set my mind to, I know that my identity is not defined by this. So, yes, I believe that I am a good writer. I have worked hard to learn how. That is truth. And whether or not I sell millions of copies has no bearing on that truth. Whether or not I ever sold a novel would have had no bearing on that. My writing is good because I have put in the time to practice and learn. That is a fact. And I cannot judge my skill by other people's opinions of what I create. I can only judge each book by whether or not I have done my best.



Shannon Dittemore
Yes! All the time. Except when I don’t. We all go through ups and downs emotionally, professionally. But I’ve never put out anything I didn’t believe in wholeheartedly. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make an adjustment if given the opportunity after the fact, or rewrite portions of former stories, but I believe that writing is a journey and I don’t want to begrudge the stops along the way.




Stephanie Morrill

Some of it, yes. Sometimes people say, “I’m reading this book of yours!” and my brain instantly goes to all the things I know are wrong with that book. And nothing brings out my insecurities like sending a few chapters to my agent or editor. 

For the most part, though, I believe in what I have written. I think it helps that I don’t ask my writing to do a whole lot. By which I mean, I don’t ask my novels to change lives or inspire girls or make a difference. Of course I love it when I hear that they have, but I don’t put that expectation on my novels. I just want to tell a good story.


Now it's your turn. Do you believe in your writing?


44 comments:

  1. I think I'm a good writer, but the real importance is being a great storyteller. I'll never put out a book I don't believe in. I know that I can do great things if I set my mind to it. I've learned a lot about writing, things I didn't know when I started. Its been a journey that I've enjoyed. There have been ups and downs, but writing is a part of me now. I can't let it go.

    I believe in my writing. While my confidence is often down, I know I can do it. :)

    Also, anyone reading this comment, please check out my friends' work over at www.rebelliouswriting.com.
    They've worked hard on the website. Its a great movement to follow and the website just opened today.

    God bless y'all!

    iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    1. Love the can-do attitude brimming in this comment. It encouraged me today. Thanks!

      -Ann

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    2. You're welcome, Ann! I'm glad I encouraged you. Some days, we are very hard on ourselves. This is just what I was thinking about last night, actually. I write like no ones watching, but when I go over it, I feel like I might be insignificant.

      Its about accepting that this is something we want to do and push forward. :D

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    3. I love this, Ivie. It usually the case that no one is harder on us than we are on ourselves. Thanks for sharing. And the new website, too! It's beautiful!

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    4. Wow, thanks for checking it out. I'm sure they'll be happy about that. Thank you for replying. :D

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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  2. To put it simply? No, I don't.
    I've always had problems with insecurity, and my writing suffers as a result. Like earlier in the summer, I was working on a book I loved. However, I realized it had a major plot problem, just like most books I've worked on. I almost quit writing entirely because I figured that if I couldn't write well, why write at all? I used writing to give myself a purpose, but when my writing became purposeless... Luckily, my friend knocked some sense into me.
    I've started a new book, and I'm fixing the problems I previously had with plot. It is helping me become more confident in myself as a writer, but I still feel that useless/pointless/why am I doing this? feeling every so often.

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    1. It can be hard to push through plot holes. But you can do it. It will take time, but you'll get to where you want to be. You just have to focus and put all your energy into that WIP. (Well, not all your energy. You don't want to be burned out, but you know what I mean.)

      :D

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    2. Good going, Josie's friend!

      I've been there with the plot hole thing and still struggle with it. Yes, it shakes the confidence; just the word plot turns me squeamish--no joke.

      Try to give yourself a little more grace. Writing takes time. We all struggle with some aspect of it, so don't think there's such a thing as a 'perfect writer,' who gets it right on one go. Writing's a test of one's perseverance.

      -Ann

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    3. I so understand where you are, Josie. Thanks for your honesty. I'm so glad you have a friend to knock some sense into you! ;-)

      What helped me when I was in this place was to continually remind myself that I wasn't writing to please the world. I was writing because I felt called to do it and because it was fun. So when writing got hard and wasn't fun or when I felt like I was failing, I wanted to stop. But when I remembered why I started writing in the first place and focused on those few girls in my youth group, I was able to enjoy it and have grace for my imperfections. It also helped when I gave myself permission to write horrible first drafts. (All my first drafts are a mess.) No one has to see these. And I learned that I would be able to fix them in the editing stage. That gave me a lot of freedom from the stress of trying to write perfectly from the start. <3

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  3. Honestly, I don't know. I live on a farm and have to be thick-skinned to deal with deaths of our animals that I love, and I think I do pretty well at blocking out negative voices. But, I sent some of my current WIP to my grandmother and she said it was really, really good and I didn't expect that, so who knows.

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    1. Oh, that must be hard living on a farm. :(

      I bet that was a wonderful feeling when she told you that. Pleasant surprises like that bring such a warm glow. Bask in it. :)

      -Ann

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    2. I'm so glad your grandmother was such an encouragement to you, Maggie! It's really hard to share our stories for the first time too, so good job being brave. We all need people in our lives who can support us in this writing journey. That is so important!

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  4. I agree with Shannon (minus the part where books have been put out, because I have not put out any books yet :))

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    1. Yet being the key word there. ;) Sounds like you're on the right track.

      -Ann

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    2. Indeed. The other side of Yet is just another stop along this writing journey. You can do it! :-)

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  5. Being a perfectionist, I get frustrated when my writing isn't as good as I think it should be. But I always, always believe in my writing's potential.

    I'm happy if by the end of the day I can say, "I've done the very best I know how." That's what I put my focus on.

    -Ann

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    1. You are always so encouraging! I see all the sweet comments you leave for everyone and its so nice to see.

      Perfectionism is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it pushes us to be the best we can be. On the other hand, it holds us back because we won't move forward until its perfect.

      Keep up the hard work and the lovely encouragement! :D <3 <3

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    2. "Perfectionism is a blessing and a curse" --YES. This is so true, Ivie. And, Anonymous, so wise of you to focus on having done your best.

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    3. @Ivie: Yes, you've described perfectionism--perfectly! (No pun intended ;) Thank you for the kind words. You're quite the encourager yourself.

      @Mrs. Williamson: Thank you!

      -Ann

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  6. Right now, no. I feel like i can't decide what I want to write. I start to write a beginning to a novel, but then realize that it doesn't have the kind of plot I'd like it to. It doesn't have the story I'm interested in. I feel like only some of my writing's well written or interesting enough. I like it after I finish writing it, but then I reread it and start to dislike it. I dunno if that just comes with being a writer, but that's where I am right now.
    I want to actually finish something so badly, and finishing a novel (or at least the first draft). That would be so encouraging. *sigh*
    Any suggestions? It's like a rollercoaster. I go up and then I go down and then I find my way up and then I find myself going downhill. I want to be writing something, but I haven't loved anything I've written yet. :\ I hate this feeling.

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    1. I'm so sorry you're feeling this way. You are not alone. I feel this way sometimes too. My suggestion would be to choose the story you love the most--or at least like best of those you have started. Look for one in which you really love the main character too. Then decide to finish it--even if it still bores you! Just write through to the end. Don't go back and rewrite the beginning. Start where you left off and use Shannon's try-fail cycles to get you to the end. These can help you keep things interesting. These scenes and chapters don't have to be perfect. Leave yourself notes if you have to that remind you of things you'll need to come back and fix, but surge forward, do a little each day, until you finish. A finished first draft is hardly ever a book you'll be super proud to show anyone. The magic happens in the rewriting and editing stage. So once you have that messy draft, study it for problems, make a list of what you need to fix, then take that list one item at a time. This is a slooowwww process, so realize it will take time. But once you complete your rewrite and edit and have a finished book you are proud of, the next book will be a little faster for you. And you'll get faster with each book as you learn to perfect your own process. It's not mean to be a fast process, though. Which is why it's important that you love your characters and want to get them through the journey they are on. Hope this helps some. Here is the link to Shannon's try/fail post: http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/2015/12/tryfail-cycles.html

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    2. Thank you so much for helping me!
      It's SO hard to stick with one WIP when you get another idea that cruelly popped into your head. I guess I'm going to just have to ignore it and keep looking onward.
      You're really encouraging. I went to Shannon's Try\Fail Cycles, and they really helped. I guess one of my other problems is coming up with a believable problem. Sometimes, as a writer, you think of one, but it's too cliche.
      I'm brainstorming and my mind's working again. Thanks so much, Jill. I'll use the Try\Fail Cycles and the Practice Sessions Shannon came up with and they should help me.
      Thanks again for helping me with this. It means a lot to have support and others who are willing to give their time up to give you advice. :)
      God Bless and I hope your writing is going well for you!

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    3. You are very welcome. I cheat on my WIP all the time! LOL I'm constantly telling myself, "No, Jill. You have to finish this one first."

      I'm glad the try/fail cycles help. So many stories have been told before. But only you can tell your story in your way. So don't worry about cliches on the first book you finish. Just make finishing your goal. Take this one goal at a time. Once it's complete, you can come back and look for cliches and see what might need fixing. You can do it! :-)

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    4. Lol, I think it's the bittersweet thing about being a writer. You get so stressed when you try to stick to just one story, but then you get relief when you see the finished product. I guess I'll just give it my all and try my hardest to finish this one. No matter how hard it may be...
      I guess I need to push through the insecurities and believe in what God's given me. He gave me the gift to show his love through writing and I'll push through to get this done. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

      Thank you so much for the encouragement! *hugs*

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  7. I know the feeling! I've been clambering out of a similar place.

    I think maybe try to force yourself to take a break from writing, if you can. I know it's agony to not be working on anything when all you want is to acheive something, but stepping away from everything really helped me to look at my work objectively, and decide what path I wanted to take.

    Also not writing anything down made a difference for me. Stopping to pick a pen or boot up my laptop slowed my thought process, and made me anxious that I had to suddenly churn something out to fill the page. Maybe just letting your imagination run laps around you without the commitment of paper might help?

    Oh, and remember you're your own person, and you're a writer. You don't have a contract with the world to write anything you don't want to write or do anything you don't want to do. And keep telling yourself you're you and you're a writer. It's one of the hardest things to believe when you're not writing, but keeping your head fixed on what you want often forces your imagination to churn out something helpful.

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  8. Do I believe in my writing? Sometimes! And other times, I let the doubts and insecurities latch on and I sit there and laugh at my computer screen and wonder what in the world it is that I'm trying to do anyway! *sigh* When it comes to writing, I feel like I constantly have to fight this sense of insecurity. In all honesty, it's why I don't often write how-to or writing craft posts, because there are so many people out there who are so much farther along than I am, and I feel like I don't have the background to speak up. While I know that I have studied a lot and written a lot and learned so much, the writing process for me is a very instinctive, internal process, which isn't always easy to explain ... or believe in.

    So, long story short, I have had to learn to write even when I have a hard time believing in my writing! And often times, I am surprised by how it turns out in the end. I've also found that my writing process looks a lot different than what's typically advised in conventional writing wisdom. A lot of times, I have to write slow and edit as I write in order to keep my sanity and faith in the story as it progresses. And as I do that, I find that it's easier to shut out my desire to make everyone happy and my worry that I'm going to fail my readers and just lose myself in the story that I'm longing to tell!

    So yes, writing insecurities. But I've had to learn to write despite the fear and to embrace my own unique writing process! And as much I long for perfectionism, I find that I'm so grateful that the writing process is a learning, growing experience. It's like the journeys our characters go on. It makes me happy to realize that as good (or bad) as I think my writing might be at the moment, I'm going to look back later and realize how much farther I've come! And that's exciting!

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    1. That's lovely, Gillian. Thanks so much for sharing. I love that you've found the process that works for you. That's what every writer needs to do. Sometime you should come on the blog and share your unique writing style. It could be there are others like you out there who might benefit from your method. Only you can teach your unique method, right? ;-)

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  9. Do I believe in my writing? Most of the time! As much as my inner perfectionist continually bugs me, I know that perfection isn't possible to achieve.
    What keeps me going most of the time is the characters. I love spending time with my fictional friends, and getting their stories down as a mess is still better than sitting around and waiting for them to be perfect.
    Of course, I do majorly struggle with new ideas that pop into my head and threaten to drag me away from my current project.
    It probably isn't the normal process for most people, but I've gotten it worked out where I'm allowed to switch between my ideas every once in a while, as long as I'm still making some sort of progress.

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    1. I do the exact same thing with my WIPs! I think I might have ADHD when it comes to sticking to one idea, but once I find one that I like a lot I usually stick to it!

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    2. That's a nice way of bribing yourself, Gwen. I bribe myself with food, which isn't the healthiest plan... Thanks for sharing!

      And, Gray Marie, I think a lot of writers might have ADHD. I certainly relate to the symptoms. ;-)

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  10. I posted a meme on my Facebook page a while back that said:
    Give someone a book and they'll read for a day.
    Teach someone to write a book ...
    and they'll spend a lifetime mired in self-paralyzing doubt.
    I've been a writer and an artist my entire life, and I've trained diligently in both creative disciplines (I hold a degree in art). But the truth is those of us who create don't do so for ourselves. We derive joy out of it, yes, and some of us are quite confident that we can craft a story and string beautiful words together. But the goal, for many of us, is to have our work seen by others whose opinions are unknown to us. And it is a given that not everyone will love what we have written. I remember the first review I received on my book, Running Lean, was one star and extremely critical, with gifs and clever wording and short paragraphs so everyone would read it. It took me a long time to get over that, even after the four and five star reviews started coming in. I felt attacked. And I didn't really understand why. Now I understand that I cannot please everyone, no matter how brilliant I or other people think the writing might be. Still, I'm writing for other people. I am my own worst critic. Do I believe in what I write? I believe in my calling. I believe that I'm not doing this for self-gratification or because sometimes it's fun. I know that I try to be the best writer I can be. I also know that I'm not perfect, and sometimes someone is going to think my work stinks. That's okay. Being my own worst critic is what will keep me growing as a writer. I don't ever want to reach the point where my writing is perfect, because then I won't have a reason to grow. Comfort equals complacency. So, really, that one-star review that devastated me for a little while is one of the things that has made me a better writer.

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    1. Ha ha. That meme is so true, Diana. And I'm glad that God has used that review for good. You are a brilliant writer, and your hard work has paid off in the quality of your gorgeous stories. <3

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  11. No. I struggle with self-confidence, especially in regard to my writing. I am very anxious about writing, and right now, no one has read my stories. I know that I have to work on this, especially if I want to be published one day. :)
    One day I hope to conquer my insecurities.

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    1. You'll get there. It takes time. It can be nerve wracking and scary, but you just have to remember that this is something you enjoy doing and that's all that matters. Write what you would want to read. :D

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    2. Don't worry, Allison! Like Ivie said, it takes time. My advice is to find a family member or friend you trust and respect, and let them read it-it will be nerve-wracking at first, but in the end you'll be better off and more confidant.

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    3. <3 I agree with both of these lovely comments, Allison. When you are ready. Maybe you could start by reading one aloud to some kids (siblings? cousins?) for fun?

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  12. I... honestly don't know. There are times when I do and times when I don't. It's easy to see my shortcomings, harder to judge my successes, and very hard to discern both. But I'm working on it.

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    1. I haven't read a lot of your writing, but the pieces I read were beautiful! :)

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    2. That is human nature, I think. We are our own toughest critics. Keep at it! And find good writing people you trust. <3

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    3. I remember reading a thing you had with characters, Faith. It inspired me to do my own posts about characters. You're writing is great. (The parts I've read. I'm sure the rest is just as amazing!)

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  13. Yes, I believe in my writing. It has its shortcomings and things I need to improve on, but at the end of the day I am proud of my works.

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