Purpose of IWSG: to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Nasty things, insecurities. They loom like shadows at dusk, ready to smother our writerly courage and send us running from our keyboard rather than face failure. I will tackle two of my personal tormentors today: SERIES and ISOLATION.
You may have heard (read) me say I don’t like series. I seldom enjoy reading them, and I don’t enjoy writing them either. I tried once in an unsuccessful effort that doused my creativity and nearly destroyed my passion for writing.
When I say series, I’m referring to episodic stand alones, where the situations change from book to book, but the players remain the same with little or no emotional development over the series lifespan. I’m not talking about the multi-volumed world-building epics one finds in the fantasy genre like A Song of Fire and Ice, or even trilogies like The Hunger Games, where there is an overarching storyline and genuine character growth.
Blog posts and articles about how to write series inevitably stress hooking the reader, generating repeat sales, and establishing brand. Some even suggest allowing reader feedback to shape future books. All that stuff we heard as novice scribes about the need to write a unique story borne of our singular creative spark? It’s never mentioned here. This is fiction by committee. I’m acquainted with plenty of writers who want to pen stories this way. I am not one of them.
Publishers are looking for series, particularly in the mystery/thriller genres. They want guaranteed wins. And despite the success of stand alones like Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL, the pubs have decided series are the best way to get those wins. So, yeah, you bet I’m insecure.
These days, if asked what I write, I say fiction. If pressed, psychological thrillers. Over the past year, I’ve dissasociated myself from the mystery genre, and that brings me to insecurity number two.
When first starting on this path—writing is a path, right?—I was nervous. I wanted to share my trials and tribulations with other fledgling writers. Or maybe I just needed to belong, hard to say. Regardless of motivation, I joined several writing groups. There were no groups organized around the type of writing I wanted to do, so I tried to adapt.
I learned there is danger in affiliating yourself with an organization that doesn’t share your goals. It is natural for a group to assume you joined because you want to do what they do. It makes sense that most of their advice and feedback would be directed at corralling you under their umbrella, but therein lies the peril. If you are insecure about where you’re headed or too shy to speak out, the group may end up helping you reach their goal instead of your own. Under a constant barrage of “you’re doing it wrong,” the harder you work to fit in, the more you try to please, the greater the risk of losing your way. Self-doubt is a slippery slope, my darlings. Don’t let yourself stumble.
For me, it went beyond not wanting to write a series. I had no interest in writing cozies, procedurals, romance, happily ever afters, or action packed thrillers. Thus, 2012 marked my resignation from three writer groups. For the first time in six years I’m on my own, and to tell you the truth, it’s pretty damn scary.
At least I have IWSG. 🙂
What are you feeling
insecure about this month?