This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop.
Why are today’s writers so insecure? Well, why wouldn’t we be? We have an almost infinite supply of how-to-write advice available on the internet— and much of it is self-published material from amateur writers.
Now, just because a work is self-published doesn’t mean that it is bad. Lawrence Block has self-published both fiction and how-to-write nonfiction. James Scott Bell has self-published some how-to-write books, but also has professional publication through Writer’s Digest books and his fiction publisher. Both of these men, I would say, can prove that they can write well enough to get traditionally published and to be noted authors. They also have both served as a fiction writing columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine.
But the writing world has undergone big changes due to the availability of FREE self-publishing. The amateur writing stage is one we all go through— but the temptation today is to self-publish one’s youthful attempts and then begin promoting it as if it were more mature work. I’ve read a book review by a reader who thought a certain book was so amateurish it could have been written by a thirteen year old. Then the reader discovered it WAS written by a thirteen year old.
A writer still at the amateur/beginner stage may not know how unready his work is. So he plugs away at self-promoting with minimal success— perhaps joining blog hops like IWSG in order to get his writing blog noticed. For the audience of blog-hopping writers, one popular topic is how-to-write tips. And so the amateur-writer-blogger writes about how-to-write. He may even publish a book on how-to-write and it may outsell his amateur fiction by a good margin.
Now, advice from an established writer can make you insecure enough. I’ve read writing advice books by Stephen King, Jerry B. Jenkins, Holly Lisle and other writers I actually knew from their fiction. There advice may be good but it isn’t always the right advice for ME, or for the work I am currently attempting.
Much worse is advice from a writer who isn’t-there-yet as a writer. There are worlds of second-rate writing advice floating around there and many amateur writers can repeat it all as if it were Gospel. Some of the things that bad writing advice has you worrying about are things that skilled professional novelists don’t think about or plan, things that ‘just happen’. Some will have you planning your novel for years, others will have you dashing ahead with a half-formed idea. For every type of young writer, there is a piece of bad advice out there that will convince you that the way YOU write naturally is wrong, wrong, wrong.
So— maybe it’s time to swear off running after writing advice. Read more books instead. Experience life a little. Learn a new language. Improve your knowledge of your native language. And remember that the only real key in becoming a confident writer is to write, and write, and write. Until you get good at it.