Posted: January 21, 2010 in FREE PSYCHOTHERAPY THURSDAY, Wednesday's Writing Tip
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Yesterday, we admitted, that as writers, we often feel insecure. Today, we look at what to do about it.

I got certified as a Rational Emotive Therapist back when I was an addictions counselor. RET focuses on what we tell ourselves and uses some unconventional approaches to get people to feel differently.

One technique is to examine what you’re telling yourself about your writing. If you’re feeling insecure about your work, you are probably running statements like this through your head:

If my work isn’t good, then I’m no good as a person.

This things sucks and is happy about it!

If people think my work stinks, that would be awful and I couldn’t stand it.

I absolutely MUST have everyone’s approval under ALL circumstances!

If my work is not fantastically great, then I shouldn’t write anything.

All of these statements in your head are usually demands and repeated forcefully, no matter how irrational they are. Take time to challenge them by asking yourself:

If a particular piece I write sucks more than an , all that says is I wrote a shitty piece. It doesn’t mean I’m a shit of a person.

If , indeed, I write something shitty would that REALLY be awful? It might suck for a little while, but really only if I tell myself it will. It’s never awful–at most it might be a pain in the ass. There might actually be some good things to learn from writing bad.

Is it realistic to think EVERYONE is going to like your stuff? Getting EVERYONE’S approval and affection really is a weird goal and a huge waste of time, isn’t it?

If you love writing why not write no matter how bad you suck? Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly–if you love doing it. Why deprive yourself because of the need for approval?

You can practice getting over your insecurity by deliberately writing poorly and sharing it with critical friends. It’s called shame-attacking. It works like this: Write something really bad, share it and wait for the criticism. When it comes practice disputing your irrational beliefs.

You’ll find you can live through your fears and that it isn’t awful at all to write something bad.

If you’re not willing to actually be bad, you can visualize being shitty. Instead of visualizing selling more copies than Dan Brown see yourself failing and getting awful reviews. Then, dispute the feeling and beliefs that come from failing. It won’t program you to fail, it will practice your skills at disputing and help you deal with your fears.

Finally, ask yourself why the hell you take this crap so ff’in seriously. Do your best, grow as a writer, but for cripe sake, keep it in perspective. Taking yourself ultra-seriously is really boring.

  1. Robin Cain says:

    GREAT blog, Tom! So many of us writers are guilty of exactly the things you discuss. Thanks for pointing out how unnecessary and unimportant our self-defeating thoughts are.

  2. I sometimes beat myself up (especially during a first draft) and then I remember the moment I went back to a story I’d thrown down years ago and thought “hey, this wasn’t half bad.” Distance does add some perspective!

  3. tjs9261 says:

    I love reading something I wrote…about two months after I wrote it…

  4. […] View original here:  FREE PSYCHOTHERAPY THURSDAY: Writing Insecurity Part 2 « Tom Schreck […]

  5. Just a Girl says:

    I write because I enjoy it. Its nice if people like it but even if I was the only reader I would do it. I did get a bit upset when my father after reading something that I had wrote called it Girly.

    There is a big hairy demon that disembowels people and eats their innards and HE thinks its a chick book….I was a bit upset. Then I remembered my father doesnt enjoy anything written after the 12th century – preferabbly in greek, hebrew or latin….sooo i have to take what he thinks with a grain of salt. He is EXCELLENT at pointing out holes in the plot though. And if I can get my stories past him maybe just maybe they will stand a chance with an editor or publisher some day…
    like…2015 or so when i actually get this all done.

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