I’m A Frustrated And Insecure Writer, But That’s Okay


Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends and family about the book I’m writing.  Most days I welcome questions like these; they give me a chance to talk about my favorite subject and the coolest person in the entire world: Me.  But recently these questions have been making me feel shy for a minute or two, something that I’m decidedly not.  So I started wondering why this could be happening, and I came to a slightly uncomfortable realization.

As you can probably tell from my recent post about positivity, I spend a lot of my life choosing to be happy.  It’s something that I’ll never want to change because it really has made my life significantly better.  Choosing to be happy has turned happiness into an almost default mode so that I no longer have to choose it anymore; I generally just feel energetic, positive, and unstressed almost every day.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes get frustrated or feel insecure.  Saying that those things didn’t happen to me would be a huge lie, and I only lie on this blog when I’m trying to make a joke (and I always fess up afterwards).

Everyone gets frustrated.  Everyone feels insecure at one point or another.

When it happens to me I usually take a step back to deal with it.  I concentrate and think hard.  I take some me time, just five or ten minutes, let it wash over me, then come to terms with it.  Then *Poof*, I’m back to normal.

But it does happen and there is one time when it happens the most (I would hazard a guess that this happens a lot to aspiring or unpublished writers).

When my friends ask me about my writing I am often at a loss of what to say.  They want to know when my book will be finished, if I’m any closer to being published, how everything is coming along.  And those are great questions.  I’m actually glad they ask them because it means they care.

But what do I tell them?  That ‘Yes, I did finish that book I was working on last year’, but ‘No, I don’t think it’s going to be published’, because ‘Honestly, I don’t think it’s good enough.  It was better than the last one, though, and I’m really excited about this next one. Most authors write five, ten, fifteen whole books before they get published.’

It’s a little disappointing for them to hear, just as it is for me to say.  I wholeheartedly wish I had cooler news to share.  And I will.  I just don’t… yet.

So I ask myself some follow up questions.  What do I have to show for my time?  I write a lot.  I blog and I have fun doing it.  All my friends know I want to be a writer; some of them have known it for years and years.  So why am I not published?  Why don’t I feel ready?

Well, part of it has to do with the fact that I have a life running at a million miles a minute (and I love it).  I just moved in with my girlfriend, and before that I was working really hard at my job as a management consultant (I had just been promoted), and before that I was traveling, and before that… and before that… and before that.  But these parts of life can’t be thought of as distractions, they are my life, so when I consider what might be sidetracking me from my career as a world-famous novelist I don’t feel bad at all, I feel grateful and happy.  Because I don’t think I’m being sidetracked at all; I think I’m living my life the way I want to.

But the writing is still there, and it always will be, and if anything it’s stronger now than ever before.  My stories continue to get better and I continue to learn.  And I am so close.  I don’t think it’s an ‘If’ but a ‘When’.

So for now I still sometimes feel frustrated and insecure, but never for too long.  I mean, come on… I wrote a book!  I wrote several, actually!  And one day soon one of them will be on a bookshelf near you.  Maybe it’ll be on a list somewhere (Oprah call me and we’ll talk).  How cool is that?

I’d love to hear if any of you ever feel the same, whether it’s about writing or some other passion. 

How do those conversations with your friends and family go?  Do you have any silver bullet answers?  Or are you a Batwriter, and nobody knows your secret identity?

Anyway, tomorrow I’m going to Salt Lake City / Snowbird for a snowboard trip with my family, where I’ll be (A) a liability on the slopes, and (B) experimenting with a new form of art that I’ve always wanted to try: Photography.  My new Nikon D3400 and I will be reporting on those adventures in a post next week (if I don’t break both of my arms that is).  I’ll see ya then.

25 comments on “I’m A Frustrated And Insecure Writer, But That’s Okay”

  1. I’m in a very similar place as you. I’ve got a few novels under my belt, a handful of short stories too, but publishing just hasn’t really happened for me yet. I’m not ready to publish a novel, and the short stories are out there, but they’re in tiny markets that very few people will just stumble upon.

    When people ask about my progress and projects, they’re usually asking to be polite, or because they have a passing interest. I start talking and their eyes glaze over. And that’s okay. I actually prefer that. It’s when people are interested that I get nervous or somewhat uncomfortable. But, I’m also a fairly reserved person when around strangers.

    So, I usually ramble on in as little detail as possible until they give up on the conversation. Not the best response, but I’m working on it 😉

    1. So happy to find someone else in the same place. At one time them asking helps push me to put myself out there, and at another time I wish they wouldn’t. It’s hard to say “I’m not ready” to be published because then they just say “Why not?” and don’t really understand that you have to practice writing books just like you have to practice to be a good basketball player

  2. Enjoy the snow, “break” free, of course.

    Would you ever want to let these questioners read something that “isn’t good enough”, or even just a sample of something to satisfy their curiosity. Perhaps their feedback would prove worthwhile. And, in a sense, you are published – in a blog, yes, but published and with over 3,500 ‘readers’ of your work. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

    1. I do, sometimes. It’s usually close friends or family, and only after something it completely done. It’s helpful, but I should probably do it a lot more than I do.

      And, yes! That’s an awesome thought – I guess I never really think of this blog as having something published, but it’s true. Thank you!

  3. I think I’m somewhat behind you in the long-term ‘becoming a published author’ process, and this post was exactly what I needed to come across. It’s easy to get beaten down by the slew of rejection and tunnel of obscurity, and seeing such a positive outlook helped me today. Thanks!

    1. I’m so glad! It’s definitely hard because it can be such a long process (I’m talking years and years), but every time I think about the smaller things I accomplish on the way I remember how awesome they are and to be proud. See you on the top!

  4. Hey, I just want you to know that it’s okay. I’m there with you so much of the time. It’s the curse of being a writer. I think, over time, it just becomes natural to put on the professional attitude and respond with the due amount of enthusiasm. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to practice responding to others, if you’re really concerned about this. Of course, as you mentioned, stay positive. That’ll always be important. Cheers!

    1. Cheers! Thanks for the positive words and the read! I’m definitely more comfortable now than I was before (when I didn’t even tell anyone I wanted to be a writer), so we’re moving in the right direction

  5. “These aren’t distractions, they are my life.”
    This is so the right attitude!
    I get so crabby and impatient when life gets in the way of my writing time. How dare people want to meet me for coffee, or expect me to remember to buy peanut butter?
    I have to step back and ditch the bitchy…the people in my life are my life 🙂

  6. I think the frustration and insecurity comes from the fact that writers treat the word “writer” or “author” as an identity instead of a job and/or hobby. So sometimes it feels a bit like if you’re not doing well at the writing thing then you’re not doing well at the life thing and that would make anyone insecure. I think my positivity around the whole thing is that while obviously I would like it if everyone liked what I wrote, I’ve gotten to the point where *I* love what I write. I get totally arrogant but genuine enjoyment out of reading something I’ve writteb. So I feel less frustrated, because at least I know I’ve got one fan, even if it’s just me. Also, my family and friends don’t ask me how my novel is going, they get unsolicited updates lol.

    1. Yes, love that first part! For some reason being a ‘writer’ makes you think of an identity before an occupation, and for whatever reason that is often the case. So weird how writers are writers in every part of their lives, but not everyone in other occupations is thought of that way

  7. My father doggedly praises my writing, telling me I’m going to be rich and famous, despite my doubts. I reckon this is due to his lack of confidence in pretty much anything I’ve ever done until now. Maybe it’s just overcompensation on his part, but it makes me super uncomfortable.

    1. Yeah my mom does the same thing, though she will sometimes tell me if something really doesn’t make sense or need to be fixed. Hey, maybe we’re just awesome writers!

  8. I’m still quite a ways away to even writing a novel let alone publishing it, so until I’m at the point I haven’t told anyone about it. I can just imagine people asking me about it and when it will be finished and I don’t need that peer pressure in my life aha 😆

    1. Haha that’s exactly what can be annoying – but there are a lot of benefits, too. The people closest to you will understand if you explain it to them, and after that they become a support group that’s hard to beat

  9. Batwriter! I love that term. I am one of those. I hide behind my reading. I wish I had a better answer for those who know and ask how the writing is going. I say great and ask them a question about something going on in their life. Phew, awkward moment over.

  10. Preach. To the choir. Sometimes you can do a little every day and sometimes you need a group of days to rework aome troublesome plot issues.

    And things like kids, and jobs, and just a smidgen of social life get in the way.

    There’s finished and then there’s polished. And polished is when we get to say The End.

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