What Is a Writer Without Insecurities Called?

Today on Twitter, Jeanne Bowerman sparked a question in my mind that felt like the beginning of a joke that needs a good punch line:

What is a writer without insecurities called?

As much as I wish all writers to feel more secure (and empowered), a few immediate words come to mind:

  • Boring
  • Insufferable
  • Unpublished

Totally unfair, isn’t it? But the thing that’s always made writers (and writing) fascinating to me is the paradox of being supremely confident and/or motivated to spread a story/message vs. feeling like your work is total irrelevant crap. (I addressed some of these paradoxes in this popular post.)

What do you think? What is a writer without insecurities? Is it essential to have some doubt—or is it just a common demon to overcome?

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

18 thoughts on “What Is a Writer Without Insecurities Called?

  1. kathryn Magendie

    I’ve learned no matter how insecure I am feeling, I remember that old commercial "Never let them see you sweat" – so I put the grin on and step up to the plate even if my insides are quivering and my arse is clenching.

  2. Sarah

    I would have to say that a writer without insecurities hasn’t written anything to be insecure about. Before the sixth draft of my novel was complete, I was confident about taking the publishing world by storm. Now, I have to do that mantra thing in the mirror every morning just to open my laptop. "I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And dog-gone-it, somewhere, somehow, an agent will like me… or at least my query letter enough to request a partial… or even a nicely worded rejection… or just any rejection letter." Even my mantra is insecure!

  3. Patrice Drago

    I think doubt about the work being produced is part of the creative process… When the doubts creep in they nudge you saying "Can’t you do better?" "Hasn’t this been done a million times?" – that’s when you are compelled to dig down deep and come up with that thing, those words, that will make it uniquely yours. Without doubts we’d probably all settle for mediocre.

    Most of us that have not hit the jackpot the first time every time, are insecure about our work being "liked," because the chances are huge that it will not be – it is subjective!

  4. D. G. Hudson

    Most creative people have insecurities about their work. When approval depends on the reception of the product by an audience of unknowns, an automatic tension is created for the person who created the book, painting, etc. Confidence in your work doesn’t equal consumer acceptance. It seems to me ‘confidence or lack of’ is an unavoidable by-product of the creative process.

    A writer without insecurities is an unusual character.

  5. Christina Katz

    Most unpublished writers I’ve worked with have some insecurities but for about 50% they are not debilitating. And for the rest, they can often work past the insecurities by gaining experience. For some, the insecurities linger, in fact, I was just exchanging emails with one of my students, who is probably the most successfully published student to take one of my classes and she is really struggling.

    So, while I don’t think that publication is always the cure for insecurities, there is definitely something helpful about having them brought to light because then they can be identified and addressed. So who says that insecurities are bad?

    Besides, confident writers are not without insecurities, they are often just more accustomed to managing the inevitable feelings that insecurities may bring. And they don’t let their insecurities stop them in their tracks.

  6. Muriel Lede

    Totally disagree. Writers are already way too anxious to my taste. They worry so much about reader reception that they focus on things that don’t really matter to the detriment of those that do. Just write a good story; marketing begins with convincing oneself.

    Otherwise you’ll end up regurgitating that kind of sewage:

    In other words: if you’re not confident your material is good and your judgment better than the reader’s, don’t publish.

  7. Laura Marcella

    Yikes, those are some harsh words. I don’t know if there are any writers out there without insecurities, but if there are, I’m sure they’re lively, happy, and admirable!

    Is it essential to have some doubt? That’s an interesting question. I have many doubts and I’m still unpublished. Maybe I’d be published by now if I wasn’t so insecure. Who knows? Probably doubt is a common demon to overcome–for most of us, anyway!

  8. carolyn vines

    It’s certainly reassuring to read that I’m not the only writer whose greatest fear is that her work will be ignored. I long for the day when I’m able to create with a deep-seeded trust that I’m the person to write what people want to read. Until that time, if it ever comes, my insecurity will continue to strengthen me. If I can continue to write and reach out to my readers despite my insecurity, what else might I achieve?

  9. John Carpenter

    No one alive is more insecure than I am, so that should get me somewhere eventually in the writing world, but your post reminds me that when it comes to making decisions (and that’s what writing is essentially–making decisions about crafting words your way or a recommended way) people fall into two camps: those who gather and pay attention to as much info as possible before taking a leap and those who may or may not gather info but take the leap anyway, doing it in exactly their own style.

    And by taking a leap, I mean writing: blogs, queries, book proposals, non-fiction narratives, novels. Teach all the rules in the world, but the intuitive writer will just do her own thing anyway, and many times it works. Likewise, the guy who studies and practices and follows the rules also gets it right. Markets exist for both, and most of us are some kind of combination of both. I lean way toward the "do it my way" approach, and maybe because I understand that I’m not following all the rules, my insecurities grow even greater. But no matter what, I just can’t wear someone else’s dress to the prom. (But clearly, I can mix metaphors with no shame.)

    Writing and getting our writing into print is kind of a sick field that encourages us to second-guess and to doubt ourselves, so yeah, we’ll always have the insecurities. My hope is that I can be true to what feels right for me and that someone else will recognize the value inherent in that. And I’m sure I’ll be breaking rules along the way, and continuing to feel insecure as a result.

  10. Giovanna

    this is such a great question. I would say a writer without insecurities is simply dead. the moment you get too comfortable you drop the ball…every time I turn in an article, script or any written work, my stomach always aches… that aches means I care, truly. the moment we believe our own glory we are doomed.

  11. Golda Mowe

    Actually, I find my insecurities a great motivator for me to write. I can’t imagine how I could have delve into my characters if I don’t feel them myself. The downside, however, is that it takes forever for me to show my stories.

  12. Cyndi Tefft

    A writer without insecurities comes off as arrogant and pompous. This can happen, in my opinion, when writers get very lucky right out of the gate. Others struggle, perhaps because of bad luck or bad writing (or a combination thereof) and it does them no favors to have an arrogant person recounting how easy it is to get published.

    Sharing our insecurities, our vulnerability, is what brings us together. It makes us stronger and better able to weather what life throws our way. Eventually, a writer without insecurities will end up lonely! And hey, maybe insecure- ha!