Insecurity is part of the process
“Reminder to writers who think their book sucks: This is normal — push through it. Insecurity is part of the process. Only bad writers think they’re good,” Harlan Coben tweeted last week. If you’re anything like me, your first response to this quote was relief. Hey, you’re not the only one who looks at your 80,278 words and thinks only about two sentences were any good. Your second response to the tweet was probably despair. Your inner critic will remind you “Harlan Coben can say that because he’s Harlan Coben. You’re not Harlan Coben.” True. I’m not. “Maybe it’s not perfect,” I tell my inner critic, “but I did as well as I could.” That’s when powerful insecurity takes hold. The moment I admit that the best I can do may not be good enough. Not a pretty way to feel. Feeling insecure is distinctly uncomfortable. That’s why most people avoid it. That might be okay for most people, but not for writers. Being uncomfortable is a requirement for anyone doing new things. If you avoid feeling insecure, you avoid exploring places beyond your comfort zone; you don’t go where no one has gone before. That makes it hard to write. It makes it really hard to write well. The truth is no one can tell you your insecurity is baseless. Someone (besides you) is bound to think your writing is bad. Maybe some of it actually is bad. That’s okay. But, just because it’s normal to feel insecure doesn’t mean you should stop. Thank you, Mr. Coben, for reminding us that sometimes feeling not so great is completely all right. Now get back to writing.