Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Insecure Writer's Support Group
I was really glad to learn that Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group would be continuing in 2012, as I have been intending to participate since the first meeting, but time seemed to keep getting away from me in the fall. So this is my first posting for the Group and, as insecurity is my middle name, it seems appropriate that it is also my first post for the new year!
One of my biggest insecurities lately is comparing myself to other writers when I read. We've all heard how important it is for writers to also be readers, and that has certainly never been a problem for me in the past as I've loved reading for a long as I can remember.
But ever since I started writing my own novel, I find I am taking the pleasure out of reading by obsessively comparing my own writing to everything I read, and deciding that I surely come up short in each instance. I will read a passage and think, "what a great simile, I could never come up with that." Or I will decide that the character I am reading about is so brilliant and memorable that no character I envision could ever compare. I read about a street scene or landscape and convince myself that I could never describe something with that sort of detail, and there's no point in even trying to immerse my potential readers in my setting. Before I'm fifty pages into a book, I'm ready to throw in the towel on my own manuscript and forget the whole thing.
I'm not even talking about classics or works of great literature here. I can be reading a total guilty pleasure, the ultimate beach read, and I decide that everything about it puts my own work to shame.
Fortunately, I've managed to keep working on my own manuscript in spite of this bad habit I've developed, but I wish I could go back to enjoying a book for sheer pleasure and stop worrying about how my own work compares to what I am reading.
Does anyone else find themselves comparing their own writing to authors you read, and fearing you come up short? If so, how do you stop the internal critic from hammering away while you read?
Thanks again to Alex for hosting this great group, and I'm looking forward to participating on the first Wednesday of each month. If you'd like to join in, just click here for the link to get started.
See you all again next month! :)