Mental Health, personal updates, Writing

Writing Insecurities

We all know insecurities are a part of life. Don’t we all feel insecure about something, at some time in our lives? Some of us feel it more often or more strongly than others, but I think it’s a universal thing. And of course, as an emotional person myself, I got a recent dose of it just this week.

Picture of a plant with wine glasses, a candle and orchids over a bathtub with the text “How can I help myself, a blog series on self-care”.

I felt insecure about my skills as an author. I felt like I wasn’t writing enough. That I wasn’t putting in enough effort. Time and time again I’ve told others, but also myself that productivity is not the measurement of people’s worth. It’s even one of the main themes in one of my latest WIPs (IN GOOD COMPANY). I preach self-care, patience and kindness towards ourselves regularly, and that we should mind the tiny steps forward as much as we do our setbacks.

A moment of weakness

Last wednesday I needed that message, by I wouldn’t listen to myself. Insecurity can take our voices away, even our inner voices, and replace them with the hate we are surrounded with. We live in an unfair world filled with injustices, and it can be hard not to be affected. Or maybe even impossible. Sometimes we know something is right or wrong, but we just can’t feel it. Sometimes our feelings and our thoughts don’t align and we need to be aware of that so we don’t end up listening to the wrong messages.

I tweeted about it and I got support from several people and it helped me work past my insecurities. I think this is an important thing for anyone to do. To work past them, but I don’t mean ignore them or that they can’t be useful.

Not everyone deals with emotions the same way, but for me, I feel that it was useful, however painful and uncomfortable they were. In this case, because there are cases where it’s pure filth that causes me to doubt myself and do so unjustly, in this case I started thinking. I did some self-reflecting, explored where my feelings came from, and tried to understand. Since this bout of insecurity was linked to the recent feedback I got on a short story, I felt the need to not just brush it off. I did learn a lot from the feedback, even if it wasn’t always that straightforward a message.

Photo by Nick Owuor (astro.nic.visuals) on Unsplash

Writing and criticism

When it comes to receiving feedback on our writing I think there’s some things we as writers need to keep in mind and do.

  1. We need to be brave, as we open ourselves up and often allow ourselves to be vulnerable as we show something as personal as our writing.
  2. We need to be open-minded, in that not all feedback will be positive, but also not all good feedback will be what we want to hear. Sometime what we really need to hear can be painful too. Doesn’t mean all painful feedback is bad and misplaced feedback.
  3. We need to be mindful, so we prepare ourselves mentally to receiving the feedback and take care of our mental wellbeing in case of harsh criticism.
  4. We need to be critical, as we go through the feedback and assess what’s useful to us and our stories and what’s not. Giving good feedback is a skill not everyone has, has honed, or even understand.
  5. We must be patient as to give it all time to sink in, process so we come to the right conclusions, and give ourselves time to deal with unpleasantness that can come with feelings of failure and rejection.

I thought I’d gone through all the steps, and then wham! insecurities still hit days after. Considering as a disabled person I also deal with (internalized) ableism where because I can’t always perform to the same standards or expectations especially in terms of productivity as abled people, and people don’t always understand because my disability is invisible, it leads to people telling or or giving me the idea that I’m lazy, that I’m not enough, and that I’m just not trying enough. And there’s more factors weighing in to give me similar feelings (racism, misogyny, etc.) so in my weaker moments, it can be hard to deal with.

I’m doing better now though. I believe in myself again, or at least, not that I can’t or shouldn’t write anymore. Regardless of what I do with my fiction after I’ve written it, I’m moving forward.

Mistakes can lead to growth

So that’s what I wanted to share. For those curious about what was going on with me. Or… Perhaps you will relate to parts of this, maybe you recognise this in a writer friend… regardless, I hope sharing my experiences will help others.

Since this is also a series on self-care, concerning mental health, I’ll also add this:

I’ve already said it’s okay to take breaks. You don’t need to write daily and meet daily wordcounts. You don’t need to write a certain amount of books a year. Writer’s block is not a personal failing or something only “between your ears”.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

But what you also need to hear, what we all need to hear, is that it’s okay to suck at this. At writing, at receiving feedback, at a lot of things in the process. It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as we take responsibility because what this means is that there’s room to grow. We can only get better if we acknowledge we aren’t perfect already. We can suck at things. But then we apologize if we hurt others along the way, investigate, learn, and be better next time.

Sometimes we can’t do it all on her own though. It’s okay to need help, so ask for it. Surround yourself with people who support you and who lift you up. Growth isn’t always an easy thing to go through, so make sure you have someone on your side to help you go through it. Have someone who can help you sort useful criticism from simple bashing, and people who remind you that making mistakes isn’t only human, it’s also a normal part of life. Always take responsibility! But also take care of yourself so you actuallycan.

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