Believing In Myself as a Writer

IMG_0206 2This has proved to be the hardest part; this belief in one’s self as a writer. I once started a journal with: “I don’t know what to write.” The rest of the journal remained blank. I don’t journal well. 

I fight with myself as a writer every single day. I reject this self-imposed isolation. I hate it. I don’t want to do it. I don’t know how not to.

It doesn’t help that my insecurities are fueled by difficulties getting published. Every time I receive a rejection, it sets me back, and I have to begin all over again, Sisyphus rolling this rock back up the hill. I am getting older, waiting to get that rock up that hill.

I’ve learned too, through the years, that the quiet writers need has a dark side; we also need responses, we need to know others read our writing. The answer is, we need readers who feel engaged with our material, but the challenge is, how to inspire and motivate the reader (without using extrinsic motivation, like schoolmasters of yore used a cane to beat recalcitrant writers?).

The blogosphere-world has exploded, and it’s literally impossible to read and respond to everything you see. I know that when I read something someone has put time and effort into, I can’t always be counted on to respond with the truth—to say, wow, no one will read this, you’ve found yourself a subject that’s bound to turn others off! Or to find time to compliment the writer who has managed to come up with a compelling subject, who I want to read over and over again.

I’ve had to force myself, in the past year or so, to be sure to comment on people’s blogs. This is why I limit how many blogs I read, and I don’t follow many. The greatest irony for me—someone who wants more than anything to encourage writers—is that it isn’t possible to encourage every writer I see (and then sit and wonder why no one is encouraging me!). It feels overwhelming to use each blog experience as a “teaching moment,” to tell them, the way I tell myself, alright, too much detail, excessive vocabulary, you’re losing your audience… etc. All the things that go wrong, go wrong in my head before they go wrong in the writing. 

I rationalize: I shouldn’t need encouragement, should I?

Oh, but I do.

All writers do. 

4 thoughts on “Believing In Myself as a Writer

    • I know for myself, I have thoughts (of course, since I am a sentient being) while I read, but I don’t necessarily take the time to put those thoughts into writing. I wonder how often we just feel overwhelmed by too much to look at, too much on the internet… just like you might not put money into the cup of an outstretched hand when someone on the street is looking for money, you might not be willing to give of your time to a stranger. I think this is why emotional engagement, the sense that this person is speaking to me, is crucial with these blogs. Otherwise, it’s too much like the street-person seeking recompense for simply being, and being in need of something I can’t give… time, attention, money, whatever. Perhaps we live in an era of paucity; we wouldn’t be the first generation to feel overwhelmed by too many choices, by having too much to do or think about.

      I seem to have just likened those who write blogs with the indigent. Well, maybe there’s something to that. 😉

      • Thank you for your interest in my work as well as your thoughtful response. I also appreciate the reminder about the need for genuine, emotional engagement. This is something I really need to keep in mind as I go off on my imaginary flights. Does it really convey some meaningful message to my readers, something they can relate to and not just my projecting my ego trip into the cybersphere.
        Being new to writing, I am grateful for the insights of such an experienced writer as yourself. I find it more motivating than all the so-called followers and empty stats.

      • I know what you mean about the sense of empty stats, and followers you don’t even know. It is often dispiriting to me that, too often, blogs seem to be yet another high school popularity-status symbol. I have a lot of hits on one of my blogs, and I learned a long time ago that most of them aren’t because of my writing; the hits come from online searches that just happen to hit the subject matter of many of the images I use. In other words, yes, people are looking at my blog, but it’s not necessarily meaningful. I continue to believe that reaching a real audience involves the personal, involves actually meeting people in the real world, off the blogosphere.

        I think if you identify yourself as a new writer, or are new to blogging (which is a very different venue than most writing environments, in that it’s an almost entirely impersonal writing experience until you get a response) the need for connection with the outside world feels even more compelling. This is why I always recommend being involved in a writing group (in real life, not only online). Writers need to have people to talk to, otherwise you do tend to fold in on yourself. Talking to yourself is fine once in awhile, but it shouldn’t become a way of life. 😉

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