Writer Insecurity

Remember, it is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is a common occurrence in all writing, and among the best writers.” E.B. White

I’ve been working on some revisions, and finally felt like they were strong and ready for submission.  I typed my email with confidence, attached the sample chapters with excitement, and then hit “Send.”

Sure enough, clicking “Send” had the same effect on me today that it always does when I submit revisions.  The email disappears in a blink, and with it, so does my confidence, security, and enthusiasm.  I can almost feel it being sucked out of me and slipping into the light on the computer screen like a scene from Poltergiest. Then I’m left as a quivering bundle of nerves.

In a recent blog, literary agent Nathan Bransford posted that insecurities in writers might not be a bad thing.  He referenced the Dunning-Kruger effect: the overconfident are often mediocre, while the insecure are often talented.  I don’t know how much I buy that, but it’s interesting. There are many authors with a healthy dose of confidence who certainly deserve to be, and many who know their limitations.  Personally, my confidence ebbs and flows by the hour, and I can’t attribute my insecurities to greatness.

I don’t know what to do to remedy this problem.  I feel like I could revise forever if I didn’t get sick of my characters, and yes, I am sick of some of my characters.  They’re starting to feel like grown children who’ve been living on their own for awhile, but have decided to move back in.  I feel like I’ve raised them, and now they need to go out in the world.  But how do I know when to scoot them out the door once and for all?

Writers, how do you decide enough is enough?  How do you know when to stop revising and send your words into the world?  Have you found your confidence on a piece of writing equal to its response?

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4 thoughts on “Writer Insecurity

  1. Sara McClung says:

    Gah! Erika, I feel sometimes like you’re speaking Directly. To. Me.

    I’m in what I HOPE will be my last round of revisions (until I query) and I have NO idea how to answer your questions. Because I know part of it will be my thinking GOSH I AM READY TO BE DONE LOOKING AT THIS CRAP! But as for knowing whether or not it’s actually ready? My palms literally just started sweating thinking about it.

    So. My answer is that I can offer absolutely NO help to you on this one! LOL

    But I can’t wait to hear how the revisions turn out–yay for hitting SEND!! =)

  2. Erika Robuck says:

    It’s a help just knowing others’ feel the same way. Good luck to you!!

  3. Anj says:

    I’m also glad you hit send…because I absolutely believe in your talent! My own writing? Yeah, not so confident. But I suppose it makes it easy to feel grateful for all the good feedback I get about my writing.

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