Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Encouragement to battle insecurity

My blogging friend Michelle Gregory had a wonderful idea for Insecure Writers Support Group today (where we all virtually meet to share the first Wednesday of every month). She asked her writing buddies to share where their greatest encouragement came from, because encouragement is an antidote to insecurity.

If you need encouragement as a writer, you'll want to bookmark her post: Let's encourage each other


Here's what I shared: 

My only "real" writing encouragement came from my high school English teachers, who loved my essays and creative writing. That was a long, long, long time ago and encouragement (from the outside) has been slim pickings since then. Critique partners are great at pointing out sentences they like, maybe a character they "identify with" or a piece that "has potential", but encouragement comes mostly in the form of "we know what you're going through, we're going through it too."  

I have found my greatest encouragement has come from the words themselves, especially the ones that pour out of me at times with a will of their own, and from the characters that keep stirring in my head, begging for their story to be told. I imagine them up there, hoping for life, wincing when I "don't quite get them yet", touching down on the page but only half-formed, still a little shy, sending me hints about their passions and fears but only opening up gradually as we get to know each other better. 

 Each little insight is an encouragement, and even the setbacks (when a critique partners says "your character is too whiny!") have been encouragements on the way, because they usually point me closer to the heart of the character. They challenge me to think deeper, to search harder, so that I'm able to find and release more of the real character and less of my own self transposed on them. 

What has been your greatest encouragement, in writing or anything else?

30 comments:

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  2. Having crit partners or beta readers are a great encouragement. We read our words so much that even what looked good or sounded good when they first went on the page start look like crap after reading it a couple of hundred times. These readers give invaluable feed back to encourage. Seeing the words pour out of our minds and on the page is also encouraging.

    I belong to a writing group and have since 07. They are absolutely phenomenal when it comes to feedback, encouragement, and a good swift in the butt when needed.

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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    1. Since 2007??? That is wonderful longevity! I've been blessed with many fellow writers/readers over the years, but the list keeps changing!

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  3. My greatest encouragement in writing has definitely been my hubby, followed by my various beta readers who are always begging me for the next story. I think readers really are the greatest motivation.

    Now if you're talking outside of the writing world, my greatest motivation comes from an incredible family who, while large and often odd, blends a weave of uniqueness that makes me smile and gives me hope for the future.

    Oh, and cheese. Cheese definitely motivates me. ;)

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    1. a weave of uniqueness - I love that!

      and I love cheese, too.

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  4. My greatest writing encouragement has been finishing a novel, revising and revising it, and feeling like it's truly good and has what it takes to 'make it.' Believing in my writing is what that MS gave me.

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    1. I'm getting there with my MS... my fourth one. The next one will be even better! :)

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  5. My greatest encouragement came when an essay I published in an anthology inspired women to write and thank me for that small piece of my story. It led to my writing a memoir, which further inspired women to write me. Believing that my words can perhaps heal and inspire others is what keeps me going.

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    1. Perhaps heal and inspire others... that's my desire too. So glad yours has been realized!

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  6. My greatest encouragement has come from CPs, as well as from my wife and daughter. If not for them, I'd be afraid I had no clue about how to write fiction.

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    1. You are lucky! Thanks for giving them a shout-out!

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  7. Crit partners are a great source of encouragement and growth. I also get encouragement from the story itself.

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  8. I too get most of my encouragement from the writing itself - after all, ideas we believe in the most often turn out to be our best work!

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    1. I might just have to frame that "ideas we believe in the most often turn out to be our best work"

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  9. My junior high and high school English teachers really encouraged me and I am so thankful for that. My family has always supported me, and my husband and my children also support me. So in that way, I am very blessed.

    The problem? It doesn't matter how many times I receive validation that I am, indeed, a writer (hopefully a good one); I struggle with confidence issues over and over. I'm struggling with one right now. One of my published articles was heavily edited by the time it went to print, and it made me feel like a complete failure as a writer.

    I didn't realize what the root of my recent writing malalise was until last night when it hit me - having my work edited that much (nevermind that I am a relative newcomer when it comes to writing feature articles) means that I can't do it. I'm not cut out for this type of writing.

    Sigh. I read something last night in one of my writing books that says as a writer, you have to accept this dual personality of writing - i.e., the good AND the bad. So I'm trying. But this paralyzing fear that I have of never churning out anything good again is wearing on me.

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    1. I struggle with confidence issues... but I think we should always struggle. We can't ever become proud and sure of ourselves exclusively. More in a direct email response...

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  10. My greatest writing encouragement? It's sad, but it's my Mom. She's read more than anyone I know, and she's very honest. Even though I'm her daughter, she doesn't shy away from telling me when my work is crap. So when she says it's good? Zang, that's some encouragement.

    And how nerdy is it that I'm all "My Mom! She's awesome!"

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    1. I love nerdy! And I love supportive moms. Mine is supportive too, in other ways, even if she doesn't "get" my writing.

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  11. Word? Genius answer.

    My CP is the best when it comes to encouraging me. I don't know what I'd do without her.

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    1. So important to find a CP that's honest and encouraging at the same time!

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  12. I think the best encouragement I get is every time I realize how much I'm improving. Even if we don't write as well as we'd like, we keep learning as we go.

    Writing is actually a very forgiving activity.

    I really love this encouragement idea, btw. :-)

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    1. I love the learning process. It used to intimidate me; doesn't anymore... so I suppose that's a sign of improving, too, right?

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  13. I LOVE THIS POST. No one has ever *really* encouraged me to write except for a teacher or two, and some friends who have read my work. In fact, I was discouraged from it by my family. So I'd have to say that my greatest encouragement comes from the writing itself, and from knowing how much it feels right to me when I'm putting words down on paper. And you know what? I think that's MORE than enough for me. :)

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    1. My family has never poo-poo'd my writing, but they've never been "yay! Write more!" either. Part of it is probably not just understanding the writer personality though :)

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  14. I still think of the encouraging things my high school creative writing teachers said to me. Wow, how powerful their inspiration was to me.

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    1. Yes, I can still picture my teacher's face! And even his comments on my paper!

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  15. There are so many ups and downs in this business. The only constant is like you say, the writing itself. I can't NOT write. It's part of me and fulfills me in a way that I haven't found with other things. So I keep plugging along whether I'm up or down on the rollercoaster. :D

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    1. That's exactly it. I can't NOT write... it's part of me. And it's fulfilling in and of itself, regardless of any outside opinion or feedback!

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  16. Most of my encouragement came early on, too. It is hard to keep going without that continued encouragement (or validation). But I do. Because...I do.

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