I’d be willing to wager that we all have deep, dark secrets when it comes to our writing. That thing that weighs on our minds now and again, or maybe even constantly.
Is there something you feel guilty about, or ashamed of, in your writing journey? Maybe something like:
- Starting pieces, but never finishing them
- Not reading often enough
- Making your tastes seem more literary than they really are
- Not sharing your work with anyone
- Stealing someone else’s ideas
- Lying about how much experience you have
- Amateurish mistakes you’ve made
- Trashing another writer
- Being terrible at accepting constructive criticism
My Guiltiest Writing Secret
Because I’ll be asking you to dish your own secrets later, I’ll set the example by going first. Here’s the thing I most hate to admit to myself and others:
When I first got back into writing after many years’ hiatus, I tried to write for kids. Somehow, I thought that writing picture books and early chapter books would be easier than writing for adults, and that meant I would get published sooner, with less work involved.
Oh, how I was wrong.
I did enjoy writing for kids, but it wasn’t the type of enjoyment that could last a lifetime. And frankly, the stuff I wrote was probably awful. It took at least a year for me to admit that I was more interested in the idea of being a published author of anything, than doing the work necessary to become the type of writer I was meant to be.
While I feel terribly ashamed of my amateur stupidity at that time, it was a great learning experience. Years later, I know myself much better, and I can see how much more work I have ahead of me.
Nix the Guilt
The thing about writing secrets like the ones I mentioned earlier is that they have the power to do one of two things: hold you back, or push you forward. To nix the guilt and get on with your journey:
- Admit to yourself what the problem is (in the example above, admitting to myself that I was trying to take the ‘easy’ road).
- Identify solutions to the problem (discovering what types of writing were truly my forte).
- Plan how you’ll follow through (in my case, choosing to write, polish and submit stories for a year with the goal of having three stories accepted).
Share Your Own Secrets
Writing is a lonely business, but by sharing your secrets, other writers out there may identify with your struggles and learn to overcome their own.
Leave a comment below and tell us all about it.
Join the discussion
Ashley Prince says
I tend to start a lot of projects and never finish them. I have two or three short stories started, I have the first ten or so pages to three different books, and you don’t even want to know how many blog posts I have started.
Once I start writing something, I have a bad habit of re-reading what I just wrote, decide it’s not good enough, swear I’ll come back to it….and then never come back to it.
I would love to get to all of the above mentioned projects because I know there is some potential in them, I just don’t know how to get them going again.
My secret? Lengthy conversations with imaginary reporters and newscasters in which I explain how I achieved such heights of awesomeness with my wildly popular novel … as yet unfinished. (but almost!)
I think you and I travel in the same media circles.
Gail Gauthier says
I’ve realized recently that when I first started publishing, I still didn’t know much about writing. I’ve begun thinking of myself as having been an untrained “folk writer” back then, similar to the untrained “folk artists” of the art world.
Sarah Baughman says
Fun post! In my case, I’ve always felt like I should be one of those people who keeps a regular journal, but I just can’t stick to it. I can barely write in my kids’ baby books. Also, I’m always kind of envious of the people who talk about sitting down to write for 8-12 hours a day without stopping. While I don’t have that kind of time at this stage in my life anyway, even if I did, I doubt I would be able to maintain that kind of focus. I can only handle an hour or two at a time!
My biggest guilt is that I want to have been a writer. Now that I realize this as my problem I can buckle down and become that writer I want to be without kidding myself. Glory, if there is to be any at all, only comes from self-disciplined work and dedication to the craft. It has taken me a long time to understand this, and by God’s grace I will overcome this great weakness!
Thank you Suzannah!
Christelle Hobby says
My guiltiest writer secret…. ugh where do I start. I suppose the one that holds me back the most is that I want to be freaking J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins or someone else that is wildly popular and has the loyal readership of millions.
I don’t want an okay book that some people enjoy, I want one that rocks the best-seller lists and makes Twilight’s popularity look pitiful. Maybe this will make me push harder in the long run, but in the meantime, I think it keeps me from getting my words down on paper.
Definitely guilty of starting projects and not finishing them. I had four or five unfinished manuscripts at one point before I finally went back and finished one.
My biggest writing secret? The fact that I often allow fear of failure to hold me back from submitting to contests, etc.
My biggest guilt is definently starting many MANY projects and never finishing any of them. It hurts when I look back but then I think “Well, that really wasn’t any good anyway” then I think about where it would could gone.
The fear of how people will take to my finished project is really what stops me a lot of times. I’m learning to be confident in myself and in my writing so that I get what I want into it solid enough to stop doubting the outcome.
Also, another confession, I really can’t stand to let someone else read my work. I have given a few short stories to my friends and one of them is reading part of my current project. I think I’m slowly getting over it (until I have to hand it over to an editor or publisher that is, haha).
Tina Siuagan says
I have lots of ideas but I am a big walking PROCRASTINATOR. Hahah! And sometimes I tend to become overwhelmed with so many ideas to the point that I scare myself and end up writing about nothing. But now, I’ve devised some ways in order to overcome it, one baby step at a time. And it works. I’m still in the process of processing things and I am maintaining a positive outlook about it. Maybe I could write about it sometime. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience in this succinct and easy-to-read article. More power to you!
Hello, my name is Amy and I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice. NEVER! You read that right. I’ve read the Clif notes, written AP papers on it, memorized the movie, but never finished the dang book. I’m a huge sham!
ps. but I have read Chekov’s short stories, does that count?
CG Blake says
My guilty secret: I have three WIPs going Ifirst drafts finished) and I can’t decide which one to finish. My NaNo novel, the shortest of the three, is actually the most riveting story, but it needs a lot of work. I guess it’s better to have too much material than too little, but I have to decide which one to work on first.
CG Blake says
Here’s another one: I really struggled to get through Moby Dick. It was a chore for me and I read it earlier this year, not as a teen-ager.
I admit: I write fan fiction and love the instant feedback. I know I should work on my original stuff, but I don’t, not nearly enough.
Davin Kimble says
I often to fail to finish stories. I have an “in progress” file that is way bigger than my “sold” file. It’s embarrassing. I often go back and work those stories but I keep telling myself that there is some element that’s missing so they sit collecting digital dust. With that said, now and then one of those “in progress” stories will see the light of day and they always wind up in some anthology or e-zine somewhere out there.
=) I’m so ashamed to say that I have several writing secrets. They are:
1. Starting pieces but never finishing them.
2. Stealing somebody’s ideas.
3. being awful at taking constructive criticism.
Maria Smith says
Starting lots of different projects and never finishing them is my top answer I’m sorry to admit. Although, I do have a plan, and I am making slow progress.
What a great, original idea for a post! I really enjoyed it.
My secret is not reading as much literature as I should.