Wednesday, July 20, 2011


There is something I need to be completely honest about. You all know I'm a positive upbeat person for the most part. I like to look for the good in things, it's what makes me happy.

Writing is my passion. I had no idea I would enjoy it so much. I feel like a whole new person since I've started this blog, kind of like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. But the truth is, right now, I feel completely inadequate.

I have so many weaknesses. I'm not a great speller. There are so many grammar rules I have yet to learn. I can't seem to stick to a plot. I really don't feel like I have much going for me when it comes to being a great writer.

So, what do I do about it? The first thing that comes to mind is that I want/need to learn more. I truly believe that learning is what keeps us young. The problem is I don't ever think I can learn enough, and that's what's holding me back from editing.

For the past week and half, I haven't really touched my book. I've been very busy (people visiting and summer stuff) but that's really just an excuse.

The real reason I haven't touched it is simply that I don't feel like it's good enough, that I'll never make it, that I'm simply inadequate.


L.G.Smith said...

Well, yes, that's how most people feel at first. I don't think anyone is prepared for how long it actually takes to become a "good" writer. For many it takes a decade or more of constant writing. Sad, I know. But every time we write and read we get a little more knowledge and a little more experience. It's a process.

Christa said...

Oh welcome to the writer crisis of confidence! We've all been living and visiting here for years. Take heart. I have a good friend who is an author who told me:

"We all write crap when we first start. Published authors are just the ones too stupid to give up on it."

Hang in there. Tomorrow will look better.

Ava Jae said...

Don't give up!

We all feel inadequate from time to time. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. It's just another obstacle we face in our journey. Don't worry! You are SO not alone in this!

Good news is it gets better. Keep at it, even when you think your writing is terrible. It will only get better as long as you keep working. Keep writing.

Hang in there, Jen!

Sarah Pearson said...

You are definitely not alone in this. Take the pressure off yourself, don't worry that the stuff you write has to be 'good'. Just write it. That's what revisions are for.

You already have an advantage over a lot of people. You know you have areas where you could improve (e.g. you say your spelling isn't great) and you're working to change that. You probably wouldn't be surprised to know how many people don't bother. Actually, I have no idea how many people it is, but from the agent blogs I read, I think it's a lot :)

Kelley said...

You're totally not alone. Writing is fun, and editing is scary. Heck, writing can be scary too when you're feeling down on yourself (example me: often), but you have to say to yourself, "I can do this" even if you don't know the how yet. Fake it til you make it is gold.

Krista said...

I went through similar growing pains when I first started writing. I did a lot of reading and self exploration.

You are a good writer and your story is good. You just need a little polish. So you may not be spectacular now, but you will be.

Take time to get to know Jen the writer. I personally thinks she is wonderful. She kept me from giving up on my dream of writing :)

Emily R. King said...

I don't think you'd be a good writer if you didn't doubt yourself. But why are you doubting yourself? I bet some of the weaknesses you see aren't that bad after all. Do you feel it isn't enough because you're measuring your passion against someone else's? I know I've done this. We're all different, so we're all different writer's. We ALL have strengths and weaknesses. None of your weaknesses should keep you from doing what you love! (New follower.)

J. A. Bennett said...

Thank you all so much for your encouragement, it's just been one (okay two) of those weeks where I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Emily - thanks for following! I think the doubt is steaming from me needed to pretty much re-write my book. It's not nearly as fun the second time around.

cherie said...

Jen! We need to meet up so I can bonk you on the head and say, "Hun, you are NOT inadequate. You have heart, you have soul, you are BRILLIANT!"

Btw, I totally have a song for you--I'm posting it tomorrow! It's for you, for me, and for anyone else feeling down. But mostly it's for you, my dear. Because I love yah.

Hang in there. I was just feeling inadequate two days ago--sorry to have unwittingly passed on the bug. But look! I'm ok, you will be okay, it's all ok. Keep on writing and don't listen to Self-doubt whispering nonsense in your ears.


J. A. Bennett said...

Thank you Cherie! I could use a good bonk right now. You totally did not pass it on, it just happens.

BTW, did I ever ask you if you are going to the Utah League of Writers deali-o in Sept? I'm going and I would love it if you came, then we could REALLY chat.

Can't wait to hear the song.

Mark Noce said...

Cool blog! Keep reading and writing:)

cherie said...

There is such a thing? I didn't know about it--sometimes I'm living way too much under my rock. I would love to chat with you. Off to google it...

Angela V. Cook said...

Awww!! *big hugs* I know how you feel. I mentioned it before in one of my other comments here on your blog, but I once had an AGENT point out stupid--we're talking stuff I should've learned in HS--grammatical errors. Now, THAT was embarrassing. Heck, up until I started my second book, I was confused on where to use just "and" and when to use ", and" lol. It all comes with time. At least you're doing the right thing by having people read your stuff BEFORE you send it out to agents ;o) You're a good story-teller, the rest is just gravy ;o)

Piper Bayard said...

There is no great writing. There is only great re-writing. Worrying if we are inadequate is counting our money while we're sitting at the table. Always a bad idea. Just put something on the page, and then you have something to work with. Good luck. :)

Caledonia Lass said...

Just keep writing. Write something else before you go back to the editing/revising stage. Clear your mind of what is already written so you can look it over with a "fresh pair of eyes". You already know what you wrote, but your writing won't get stronger unless you look it over, then find someone else to look at it and perhaps offer up some advice.
Yes, there are advantages to learning lots of things about writing. But in the end, they're your words and your story. It will come in time with practice.

genelempp said...

Never give up faith in yourself, Jen. Self-questioning is a part of the writers journey. It is normal to doubt, especially our skills, but we come to realize and accept that while we can never know everything, never be perfect, what we can do is always strive. (See I just broke a few writing rules, but it doesn't matter). What matters is that I wrote it.

If writing is truly your dream, then write, read on writing, write some more and never stop writing.


Anne-Mhairi Simpson said...

No first draft is ever going to be awesome. That's just not how it works. You can just put it aside for a while and then go back to it. But be honest with yourself, which means acknowledging the good things as well as the bad. There will be good bits in there and nothing is ever wasted. If you've got a critique partner or beta readers they can help. But if you're really stuck, just read other books. They'll show you about spelling and grammar because traditional publishers are generally pretty good at editing for that kind of stuff. But don't give up. Because you'll be giving up on yourself and no one wants that. Hugs.

Jo Bryant said...

First drafts are just that - leave it alone for a while - plot a new book, write poetry, blog, then look at it again with fresh eyes and you'll find the good in it and trim out the bad - eventually you'll have an awesome finished book - and we will all be clamoring for a signed copy. :)

Anonymous said...

OK, I can fix this. Take a couple deep breathes, exhaling completely. Pop in a DVD of "The Sopranos" by episode three you might feel a bit "adequate" as a writer. If you watch the entire series you will be certain that you are the next Steinbeck.

Think about this. The Sopranos was wildly popular and made a fortune. If a high school Freshman turned in something similar to the The Sopranos the teacher would start asking the kid about what vocational classes they might enjoy.

Einstein failed math in college. He was inadequate to the task of math. He designed a new "math" and then he felt warm and adequate all over.

There are dozens of great guides to spelling and grammar. I'm not going to read a damned one of them. I have an editor. She read them. The world is not waiting for a new grammar guide. The world is waiting for some fun.

Are you adequate to the task of "fun"? Give it a try.

You wrote a great post.



Laura Josephsen said...

This is pretty normal. I had one book I wrote that I had SO many doubts about the whole time I was writing it. After another one of my books was published, it made it worse--I put this pressure on myself. "What if it's not publishable? What if it's not good? What if the story sucks? What if everyone hates it?" LOL. I had to move past that and realize that I like it, I want to write it, and I'd be unhappy if I didn't finish it. Grammar, spelling, plotting--it can all get worked on in revisions and editing. And more revisions and editing. The only way to get better is to keep practicing.

You can do it!

Lyn Midnight said...

If I had a nickel...

So I get it. I feel like this all the time, not most, ALL. And you're right about learning keeping us young. But you know what.. I think we can only truly be good writers if we accept when we write inadequately and just keep doing it. Which of course most of us do anyway. Now that I think about it.. I've only ever been carefree in writing when I'd thought something is just for me, never to be published. Alas, they start this way and then turn.. complicated.

Oh sorry, I digressed again. I have confidence in your skills, I really do! I mean come on, I'm reading your novel and so far I'm loving it. And you can always learn the technical stuff. You know what's actually hard to learn? The heart behind the story, and you have that. I really think so. ;) So cheer up, girl! One inadequate step at a time. :P

Sarah said...

Totally natural and understandable. And ... the only way to get through that feeling is to deal with it and keep working. I know I've felt like this before, and when I do, I go back to why I started to write--because it made me happy, because I felt like I had stories to tell. We all have things we need to work on, and no novel worth reading was perfect after the first draft. Hang in there--and when you're ready, dive back in!

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

I didn't read through your comments, but I'm sure if there are other writers commenting, they'll tell you the same thing I'm about to:

We all go through this. It's part of writing. There's the moment when you have the choice: throw in the towel, or push. Your first draft may suck. Your first novel may suck. But there's something inspiring about it...the fact, hey, you just wrote a novel. Even if it's awful, you should prove to yourself that you can do it. You can only get better from there.

I, too, am an atrocious speller. Grammar, I'm okay with something (though terribly comma happy)...but there are books, there are things you learn from reading other people's work, and eventually it falls into place.

In the end, you need to believe in yourself before you can believe in your work. Remember it's okay to write poorly sometimes. In all honesty, 90% of what will come out will actually suck. But it's that 10% that makes or breaks you.

Don't give up. Keep writing.

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

There's not a writer alive who doesn't feel this way, usually halfway through a project or just after it's finished. Keep going. You'll never, never know if you never, never go there.

Ashley Nixon said...

Yeah, this happens to me a lot. lol. I am not a good speller either, but that's what spell check is for! And Beta readers. haha. Also, grammar isn't my think either, I just hope I get it right!

Cheer up! :) And go back to your book. The best think we can do as writers is read. That's how we learn.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Okay. You need to go to my post here and scroll down to the bottom and watch this wonder Ira Glass video. He says it perfectly. Keep writing. This, like so many skills, is fine tuned by DOING and doing a LOT.

The East Coaster said...

Yo! Every writer feels this way at some point. You know what we do? KEEP WRITING!

For what it's worth, I've scrolled around on this blog and I don't see any traces of a sucky writer up in here.

As for the first draft bit - well, Hemmingway said that first drafts are...well...a load. Now if Hemmingway said that about his, c'mon.

So here's what you do. You go back to that book and finish it. It's not supposed to be pretty until the rewrite. Or the third or fifth rewrite. I like to think of my first drafts as elaborate outlines that no one ever sees.

Cliffsnotes version of what all I just said: Rock on girlfriend.

Barbara Kloss said...

This is a wonderful post! Mostly, because you (and I) get to see how many other writers feel that way! And, apparently, there are quite a few of us ;D How encouraging!

The best way to cure inadequacy, at least for me, is to get busy writing. Put my head down and get to work - then I feel as though I'm making progress because I'm never more intimidated by my story than when I'm standing there staring it square in the face.

I never would've known how badly I abused the Plural Possessive Comma until I handed my work out :D (It's still angry with me...)It's all a learning process.

Melanie said...

I am sorry I wasn't there for you yesterday but it looks like you got plently of love. Coming from someone who can't think of an original story for the life of me, I can tell you that that in itself is a talent. We all have different strengths and weaknesses but I think that's what keeps us humble and striving to become better. Rely on others who have strength where you may be weak and everybody grows as people, (and writers.) You are doing awesome and are a great writer. The fact that you can put your heart into your work says volumes, (even if there may be some misspelled words in those volumes ☺.)

Melanie said...

I like it written in the present tense. It helps you feel like you're living in the moment with the characters. (Totally personal opinion.)

Carrie Mumford said...

This is exactly how I felt too, Jen! Like many others have said here: don't give up. Writing is hard work, sometimes it comes easily, and sometimes, not so much. Hey, if it was really easy, everyone would do it :)

Keep at it, it gets better!

The Thumber said...

Oh darling, I know how you feel. Sometimes it's so hard to find the courage and strength, especially as a writer. Doubts suck, but you must power through. Trust me. And never use me as an example! I am right there with you. Why do you think I've blogged, like, twice in over a month???

Hang in there. Follow your passion. And NEVER let your mean inner-voice (I call mine Ol' Bitchy Face) get the best of you!

xo, Shannon

Maxabella said...

Jen, EVERYBODY feels like this. Even the confident, 'out there' types like me. The only difference is that there are some people who fear failure, and some who don't. Be one of the latter, Jen. Write on! x