The Writer’s Guide to Overcoming Insecurity

The Writer's Guide to Overcoming Insecurity

“This is horrible.”

“I’m just not cut out for this.”

“Why do I even write?”

Everyone who writes has that little voice in their head. It’s the voice of Mr. Insecurity – and if you aren’t careful, he’ll move in permanently with his annoying grandmother, Procrastination.

Luckily, there are things you can do to overcome your writing insecurity and shut that voice up for good.

Why You’re Insecure

We’re insecure because we care about what people think of our work.

If we didn’t give two hoots about it, then we wouldn’t be insecure. But we do care, and we worry when there’s the least little indicator that someone doesn’t like what we’re doing.

You want people to like you, to like your articles and to tell you that you’re awesome. If you hear silence or (heavens forbid) criticism, you freak out.

It’s all fine and good to want to be liked, but when you stop dead in your tracks if you don’t hear that you are… it becomes a problem.

A big problem.

What to Do About It

You can overcome your writing insecurity. You may not be able to eliminate it forever, because it’s a part of you, and it might come and go at times.

But you can learn how to deal with it. You’re here to write, create and express yourself. The more you do that, the more Mr. Insecurity fades into the background.

1. Destroy the Voice.

Become aware of the voice in your head that makes you insecure.

No, I’m not crazy – and neither are you. Most people have several voices in their head, and often what they say is in conflict.

When you try to convince yourself that the voice doesn’t exist, you can’t do anything about making it go away. That’s why I recommend you write down what this voice says to you.

When you take notes for a few days, you’ll start to notice patterns. What you’ll notice is that the same sort of stuff gets repeated over and over again.

After a while it starts becoming ridiculous.

Action step: Keep a pen and a pad of paper next to you when you write. Each time you start feeling insecure, write down what the insecure voice is saying.

2. Find Your Ideal Reader.

If you try to please everyone, you’re bound to get stuck sooner or later.

James talks about this a lot, and she says that writing with ONE reader in mind helps eliminate a lot of the insecurity you face.

You no longer have to worry about satisfying a group of people. All you have to do is focus on pleasing that one reader or customer.

Try to write for a group of people, and you’ll always find someone in that group who doesn’t like what you have to say.

But the truth of the matter is that you have to exclude some people if you want raving fans.

Action step: Create a pen portrait of your ideal reader. Have fun with it. Include a picture. Then sit down, imagine having a conversation with your ideal reader and bang out an article.

3. Journal.

The third and final tip for overcoming insecurity is to journal.

This is a more of a big picture approach compared to tip #1 above. Write down whatever is going on in your head. Keep writing for at least 15-20 minutes without stopping. When you run out of things to say, write anyway.

If you truly run out of steam, keep on writing random words.

Journaling (or free-writing) never ceases to amaze me. It helps me get the insecure thoughts out of my head.

So open up a document, and start writing.

Let it flow uncensored.

Let all your insecurity bleed onto paper.

Eventually, you’ll be drained of it – and better able to write.

Action step: Journal on your computer, with regular pen and paper, or use online software like Penzu. But right before you start writing, do a 20-30 minute journaling session where you write down everything that goes on in your head.

The Bottom Line

Overcoming insecurity isn’t easy, but the better you get at it, the more of your writing you can put out there.

This isn’t about perfection. It’s about providing value. The more you publish your writing, the more people you can help, and the more clients you can attract.

There will always be people who don’t like what you do. But there will also be people who absolutely love what you do. Focus on those who want to hear from you and forget the rest.

Especially Mr. Insecurity. That guy’s a jerk.

Post by Henri Junttila

Henri Junttila writes over at Wake Up Cloud, where he helps people turn their passion into a thriving lifestyle business. To learn more, make sure you grab his free special report (audiobook included).

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Great post Henri!

    As a writer, I’m intimately acquainted with insecurity. For the longest time I felt that if I listened to the voice in my head it would convince me that I was a good-for-nothing writer and that I was fooling myself into thinking that my work was any good. Ignoring it seemed like a better option.

    The only thing that would get my fingers typing was a deadline. And then I’d spend hours thinking my work would have been so much better if I’d completed it well before the deadlines and give myself time to do another edit.

    I’ve found that stepping out of my comfort zone or changing the scenery helps too. I’m so busy noticing everything about the new process/environment that insecurity takes a back seat. And with a new situation, you subconsciously give yourself permission to be average.

    So if my home office is inspiring morbid thoughts, I move to another room or work outside. And when I feel like my writing sucks, I try my hand at a new style of writing in which I don’t have to worry about being good because hey, this is just my first attempt.

    • That’s interesting, Samar.

      I’ve never thought about changing scenery or trying a new style.

      My approach to the insecurity is more zen-like. Sometimes I sit down on my sofa and immerse myself in the feeling I’ve labeled as insecurity.

      Most people try to push it away, and that only fuels it. But when you sit with it, let it be, and breathe, you realize that it’s not what you thought it was.

      Thanks for the fantastic comment!

  2. That’s true.

    When i started my blog, i was completely lost in thinking all the crap like – what would happen if people didn’t like my articles or if i didn’t get idea’s on what to write upon.

    But it was just a type of fear that starts every time you do new things.

    I now write for myself and write only what i like as a reader.

    Articles like this helps beginners like me a lot. So thanks for writing such an awesome article

  3. good advice. it’s pointless starting up a conversation with a bigot so why would you want to write for some small minded critic who has no heart!
    give yourself a break. I’m certainly far from immune to self criticism, but it wears me out at times, I think when I write things out it gives me a chance to view myself objectivly and to be less harsh.

  4. Great ideas Henri. Especially liked the action steps.

    I once read a book about Dealing with our Insecurity Gremlins.

    Like you, they suggested you identify the annoying voice in your head. Writing their message down is a great idea. They suggested giving them a specific time to complain. Say from 11:00-noon, or 9:00-10:00 PM. Then after their time was up, the Gremlins had to get off their soap box and shut the hell up.

    When I’m worrying and upset in the middle of the night, I try to picture my gremlins (some have human faces) give them their hour, banish them and watch them go “poof”–many times it works. :)

    • Good stuff!

      Different things work for different people, so thanks for sharing that, Mary.

      The first step is being aware of them in the first place, and being aware that they are not who you are. You have the choice to listen to them or not.

  5. The last two sentences rock, Henri. You get an A+

  6. I would not be blogging without free writing to eliminate all of those voices in my head as they get quite rowdy sometimes.
    Another great asset is connecting to bloggers like yourself. You have an ability to inspire those a little shy and insecure to keep writing.

  7. Nice post Henri.

    Not sure the “destroying the voice” is the best thing to do though. Doesn’t that tend to focus people more on the messages delivered by that voice and even reinforce it? My sense is that it’s better to become friends with the voice; after all, that voice has your best interests at heart (i.e. keeping you safe), so welcoming it in, giving it a hug and reassuring it that things are gonna be just fine can work wonders.

    • I 100% agree with you. I welcome it in myself, and recommend it for other people as well. I somehow chose the word destroy here, but yes, welcoming is what it’s all about.

      Not resisting but allowing is what I’ve found to work extremely well.

      Good catch, and great point. Thank you, Steve :)

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