Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG & Postcards from the Past


It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's also time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. The Insecure Writer's Support Group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh in 2011 and has grown to include upwards of 200 members. If you'd like to join in, visit Alex's site here for a sign-up list and to see this month's co-hosts.

Several months ago the IWSG team started providing us with a new writing-related question each month. I decided to answer this month's question as it relates to one of my worst habits!

The question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

My answer: I now compare my writing to EVERYTHING I read and in my insecure mind I always come up short. No matter what I am reading, I hold a running dialogue in my head about how this is so much better than anything I could ever write, I wish I could write like this, I'll never be this good, etc. I do this even with books I don't like! In fact, I've done this with books I hate so much I don't even finish them. It's a terrible and obviously completely unhelpful habit.

I'd love to say I'm going to break myself of this habit NOW and never be insecure while reading again, but I think we all know that would be a lie. My insecurity has been turned up to 11 lately anyway, so I am sure that soon I will be reading the circular the grocery store sends out and bemoaning the fact that everything about it is better than anything I could ever write.

In other news, I have become obsessed with two Twitter accounts featuring old postcards! If you use Twitter, are you familiar with PostcardFromThePast and PostcardToAmerica? I love them and have recently been going through their tweets and brainstorming possible story ideas. I think they are such fun!

Here are just a few screenshots of some of my favorite postcards. The people who run the accounts write what was written on the back of the card above the pictures.

Some are funny:



Some just plain macabre:



And some make me so curious! I wonder what was happening in the lives of the people who wrote these cards.



The Holiday Inn card makes my brain spin in all kinds of directions. So many story possibilities! :D

I love old photos, postcards, and history, so these Twitter accounts are a goldmine for me. I am so glad I came upon them.

Happy February, all!

35 comments:

  1. It's easy to compare, but we are never as bad as we think we are.
    That last one does spur on some ideas, doesn't it?

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  2. Sorry you are comparing yourself to the writers whose books you read. I agree with Alex. We are all better writers than we think. Hope you can turn your critical eye down a notch so you enjoy reading more.

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  3. Hey Julie, I think I've been in a reading slump because lately I haven't had that reaction of "I wish I could write this well!" I need an amazing read to perk me up. But I've definitely had that same thought.

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  4. Hi,
    It is not about how you write in comparison to how someone else writes. I think of it as a learning process. I see something I like and I write it down. I see something that I don't like and I write it down. It is kind of like strengthening my writing muscles.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

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  5. ACK!! I feel the same way when reading a good book! But let me assure you, Julie, you're a great writer. I can say that because I've read your books!!!

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  6. I hear you about reading and comparing our writing. It doesn't bother me as much if it's a book/story outside my genre because even if it's wonderful, I can convince myself it's not my style, voice, etc. But when it's totally something that sounds like me or what I would/could write? Aaaaagh!

    Those postcard sites look like fun!

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  7. I know that feeling. It's so hard not to compare ourselves to other writers. But your stories are marvelous! Love those postcards. Hehehe!

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  8. I had a reading phase like that. Then I got over it. =) Now I can appreciate good writing and consciously analyse why I love it, but I don't have to compete.

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  9. Those postcards would make fantastic story starters. Don't beat yourself up over well written books. Just take notes. Become a better writer:)

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  10. Glad you've decided to break yourself of that habit. Comparison does us no good.

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  11. Comparing myself or my writing to others is such a destructive habit, and one I've had tremendous difficulty breaking. Good luck! Comparison is an act of vengeance against ourselves. Don't know who said that, but I have it on my blog as a quote that really speaks to me.

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  12. It was years before I was confident in my writing and then one day I read a book and said to myself, i KNOW I writer better than this. I then started letting others read my manuscripts and just recently feel confident to seek publication.

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  13. Hi Julie, we writers sure are an insecure lot, always comparing ourselves with writers who write brilliantly well and then wallowing in a pool of misery and self-pity.

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  14. "Now, cut that out!" (Did you hear that in Jack Benny's voice?)

    Seriously, you've got talent out the wazoo. Believe it. Embrace it. It's only natural to read with a writer's eye, but try to see the truly great writing as an inspiration, and the really poor writing as a source of what-not-to-do tips.

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  15. In the beginning I compared my writing to every book I read, but not anymore. It was so destructive.

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  16. It is so hard not to compare my own writing to whatever book I'm reading. It's especially frustrating when it's a book I don't think is written particularly well. :)

    I haven't heard of those two twitter accounts before, but they are really intriguing. I think I may have found my new time suck...

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  17. That last one definitely makes my wheels turn. I'm going to have to check this out.

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  18. What a great way to get inspiration! There's a good side to comparing yourself to others -- you can find someone you want to emulate and writing you can aspire to. When you know what you're shooting for then it's easier to work at it and get there. Have a lovely week!

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  19. Hi Julie - finding your own voice and you've done that with Baby Moo and I have a feeling your Alaskan ones will be well written to (when I get to read them - I enjoyed the premise). So keep on ... writing ... take care and fun postcards ... cheers Hilary

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  20. I feel the same, though I've also read bad books which teach me what not to do, and which I find impossible to finish.

    Love the postcards!

    shahwharton.com

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  21. Those postcards are great - full of inspiration!

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  22. There are so many really good writers out there, it's really easy to make yourself feel bad in comparison. The thing is, you're better than a lot of the writers out there too, you just don't bother to compare yourself to them. Compare your current stories with your older ones. If you see signs of improvement, that's all you can ask for.

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  23. This has happened to me too. It made me give up reading for a while. But I'm slowly easing back into it. You are a good writer, Julie. Don't doubt it. Those postcards truly are a great source of inspiration. Keep on enjoying them:)

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  24. Those are some interesting post cards. It does make me wonder what some people were thinking... :) But fun source of inspiration!

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  25. We are usually are own worst critics. That running chatter in our head never seems to be, "You're the best writer in all the land!" It's usually, "Why couldn't you be more like Nelson DeMille?" Well, at least mine says that. ;)

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  26. You should read some of my work. I'm sure it would make you feel better about your own writing!

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  27. I have my own obsessions as well. These postcards are cool Julie. Write on Julie and know that you kick butt to your fans. :)

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  28. I can relate because I see other people's cards and I can feel really bummed. There cards look so much more artistic and detailed but I have to say in the end...I enjoy creating and that is what you need to say to yourself. I bet your work is excellent t too since we are our worst critics. These postcards are cool and I like old postcards and photos as well but the writing on the back are just too funny even that macabre one with seeing something horrible but then wanting to have snails...very weird.

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  29. Those are indeed intriguing postcards. That's a good way to get ideas. Thanks for dropping by my blog for the King book review! Hope all is well with you.

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  30. I'm the same exact way when it comes to my art. I never fail to compare it to everything and feel beyond talent-less. So sorry this is something you struggle with, too. It's not a fun insecurity, for sure! (For what it's worth, I think your writing is amazing. I always enjoy reading one of your books!)

    And I've never heard of those Twitter accounts before, but I'm incredibly intrigued now! Will have to remember to check them out when I have more time...

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  31. Yeah sometimes the "I could never write like this" insecurity hits me too. But then, I remind myself that I don't actually want to write like anyone else.

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  32. They started where you started and if they can do it so can you. In fact, you have. ;-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  33. I do that too...the insecurity thing. I finally decided to embrace it and appreciate the fact that at least I'll never be cocky. To me, nothing is worse than those writers who think every other writer in the game is a hack.

    I love those postcards. I'm a history junkie. And you're right, it fuels the imagination.

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  34. It is hard to compare while reading.

    I love the old postcards!

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  35. Yeah I get that comparison thing. But all those great writers had to practice to get where they are. They did that by writing a book and putting it out there and moving on to the next one until they were good and had a hit. I keep telling myself that. Practice makes perfect and with every one I will get there too. Keep your chin up and keep writing.
    Happy IWSG Belated Day!
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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Thank you for your comments!