Day 15: On Dealing with Insecurity

Dec09WM15If you think about it, writers, artists and musicians have everything in the world working against us — because conventional wisdom tells us we’re not “supposed” to make money doing this. We’re supposed to suffer, because that’s part and parcel of being an artist.

Many writers that hear this message get discouraged, and often take it to heart by worrying about “only” getting published through this channel or that, or by giving away their work for free because they don’t think they’ll ever be good enough. (For clarification, you’ll want to read my stance on writing for free or about puking content, plagiarism and too much free. In short, the persistent view on what an author should do often affects how new writers approach the market.

I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. On my end, writers should have ethics because we have to set an example as to why we should and deserve to get paid. I have a short list as to what my core ethics are: a) don’t plagiarize from online-or-offline sources, b) don’t push someone else down to make you look better and c) don’t “over” self-promote by telling everyone how great you are. I believe these are pretty simple standards to have, but my failing is when I do see other authors plagiarizing and getting away with it or putting down “new” authors because they don’t know any better. (Even though, we all had to start somewhere.) Then, I get frustrated because it’s hard enough trying to promote a positive image for professionals that are typically deemed as being mentally unstable.

The hard, cold truth of being a writer is: you have to be your own cheerleader, but you have to know when to stop cheering. You have to know when to shut up and simply sit down in front of a keyboard to get the words out, and when you are asking “too much help” from another author or professional. In my mind, you also have to know, in your heart of hearts, that every single doubt and insecurity that you have is what every author feels. The more you write, the more good and bad things you experience. (I can’t remember who said it, but it’s a lot like getting punches on a coffee punch card. Plagiarized? Check. Haven’t been paid? Check. Etc.)

To me, there is “good” and “bad” in every situation and a lot of things come with the territory. There’s going to be complete *ssholes that make a lot of money. There’s going to be authors that write one book and never have to write ever again. There’s going to be authors that have to write dozens of books and pile up rejections before they are ever noticed. And while it’s good to be aware of the pitfalls of being an author (we all like to eat, you know?) none of this should really matter to you. Why? Because the absolute worst crime I believe you can commit is to not write at all because you are afraid. Then? You’re not a writer. You’re just someone who “talks” about writing. And that, dear reader, is a lot more common than you might think.

So be brave, be bold and forget about everything you have been “taught.” Forget about worrying how far you are in this Marathon, too. You can’t edit a blank page, you can’t sell an unfinished manuscript, and you can’t worry about how successful you are or you’re going to be. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and put those demons to rest.

3 Responses to Day 15: On Dealing with Insecurity
  1. Jim

    This was a nice message and just the shot in the arm I needed. Thank you!
    I’m back on track and ahead just a little. I decided to take a small break and read some other work on a yahoo group I joined. It made me feel better knowing that everyone is human.

  2. Jim

    Well my job situation may have gotten worse so I will channel all my energy writing today.



Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

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