IWSG# 26 – Over Thinking It

New IWSG BadgeThis post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.


When I was a teen, someone said I was one of the few that could jot down exactly what I thought. I didn’t know it wasn’t so easy for others.

When I stopped journaling and started storytelling, I had so much to learn that I thought I’d never get it. Somehow the moment came, and with it I finished a short. It wasn’t beautiful. First drafts rarely are. From there I just kept going.

At each stage I improved, but never expected to hear/read good things about my work. I’m my cruelest critic. As I struggled, I was too close to see it clearly. Yet somehow I found the guts to submit.

The best thing that anyone said about my writing was: They’d like to offer me a contract.

Anyone on this journey knows how sweet that can be.

Like I said, writing comes in stages.

The stupid thing is even after all the stages I’ve gone through I still wonder if I cat-152209_1280could do better. Every time I write a short I seem to bump it up. My first thought this round was, if I can do it in a short, shouldn’t I be able to do this same thing in a book?

A very unsettling thought to be sure.

Why do I do this to myself? I don’t know.

Does this ever happen to you?

123 responses to “IWSG# 26 – Over Thinking It

  1. I struggle with that question too Anna. I think scenes are easier to picture but for me it’s the right sequence in putting all the scenes together that gets me. I am trying hard though to work on that though. I wish you every success my friend. πŸ™‚

  2. Oh yeah. I feel like a fraud even acting like a writing. I doubt myself all the time to the point of getting in my own way because I want to turn this into a career. Its funny until I started writing with the goal to eventually publish I never experience writer’s block and I seemed to always be able to figure how to tell the story and where it was going Now half the time I can’t even do that. Sounds like a good case of the fears, doubts and lack of confidence huh? Yup I get it.

    Great post.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  3. Since I just finished round 3 of edits on Sasha’s Journey and feel it’s nowhere near ready to even show to beta readers, I can definitely relate. I am still trying to turn this into a career, and have gone off in a dozen different directions in that vein. I think I’ve finally narrowed it down…but talk to me in a month. That may change again! There are days I can write and write and write and others when nary a word leaves my fingers. What we writers do learn is to reach out and have support groups as only other writers really understand.

  4. We all feel this way and I know I can over analyze something to death.

  5. The older I get, the less I do that. I’ve accepted that I’m not perfect (in fact, I’m happy about that) and my foibles contribute to who I’ve become.

  6. Oh heck yes! There is always the, “do I suck? Am I crazy? Why am I doing this?!” going on in the back of my mind. I usually have to sit myself down and verbally bitch slap my psyche to get it to knock it off. Sometimes that works ;).

  7. I think it’s important to remember that writing is a continuous learning process and we can always do ‘better.’ Every time I write something, I learn something new. But that’s one of the big joys about writing, I feel!

  8. I love my FF. I feel totally comfortable writing shorts. πŸ™‚
    I’m terrified of the longer story.
    Maybe write a few shorts and then string them together into a longer piece? The trick would be to edit and find ways to connect them, because it still has to make a cohesive story. *sighs*
    I know there are writers who write in this manner.
    Happy IWSG Day!
    Writer In Transit

  9. I’m always striving to do better, to improve. And I hope I never stop. πŸ™‚

  10. I think everyone struggles with this a little bit. (or a lot. ;D) I recently had to force myself to stop editing and send my manuscript off. Believe me, I get it. πŸ˜€ Great post!

  11. Oh yes. Getting a contract offer really is the best thing that someone can say, and that can happen, after they read your story. πŸ™‚

    I always think I can do better. Which is also why each new story I release is better than the last.

  12. Yeah, I could see why getting a contract could be the best compliment you could get. But there’s nothing wrong with always thinking we could do better, in my opinion. It’s that drive to keep getting better that’s keeps our work sparkling. I hope you never get to the point where you think there’s no way to get any better.

  13. I sure hope each story I write is better than the last one. I like learning and growing, otherwise writing would get boring and stale. I liken writing a story to learning to become a floral designer.(like in my previous life.) When I began to design, I didn’t know when I was done. I could add more flowers, but it didn’t make it prettier. Sometimes I’d have to take some out. And sometimes I just needed to add a touch of purple statice to spice it up. Just like writing–take out, add, spice it up. Eventually your eye (your pen) develops to see what’s needed. Then you branch off to another creation and try new things. Having a support/crit group is essential to help you with the training. Keep writing and writing and writing.

  14. I’ve been struggling with manuscript edits for months. I second guess myself at every turn. Honestly, it seems the longer I write, the more my insecurities get a foothold. That may be a good thing in the long run, but it sure slows me down. πŸ™‚

    VR Barkowski

  15. This seems so obvious but I didn’t think of it at all. Yes, that contract offer is an incredible thing for someone to say about our writing! Perfect! πŸ™‚
    I over-analyze everything too. To the point where I can end up almost frozen and unable to write anything.

  16. Congrats!
    I started writing short stories and then graduated to full novels. You can do it.

  17. Being offered a contract is a wonderful thing! It might just be the best compliment a writer can get.

    Overthinking is part of being a writer that we can’t escape. As Stephen King says, “A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave.”

  18. Anna,
    You raise a really good point here. Maybe the problem is this constant need to be “growing as a person”? Not to say we shouldn’t all be “growing as people” but maybe that doesn’t have to happen with everything or all at once. Here’s a probably related crazy thought. I have occasionally been paid for my writing too and I want to say that is the best thing but – seriously – I think, not much and I can do better.
    Okay, so, really, really good point. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    I think we’re all our own worst critics.

  20. I’m usually convinced that I’m either written the best thing I’ve ever written or the worst thing I’ve ever written. Overanalyzation is great when you’re applying it in a fictional sense, but it’s too much in real life and unfortunately, us writers are prone to it.

  21. A friend in a Facebook group was asking this same thing. I don’t think the jitters and fears go away until you’re long, long into your career.

  22. Angela Wooldridge

    I’m sure it must be healthy to doubt yourself, when you start thinking everything you do is perfect is probably the point when everyone starts avoiding you isn’t it? πŸ˜‰

    • Hmmm. I think so. You’ve reminded me of when I failed a math test I was sure I aced. I didn’t go back and check my work. Could this be where it came from? πŸ™‚

  23. I’m going thru the last round of edits for my publisher and it is taking me 12X longer than it ever has before. I don’t know. I thought it would get easier.

  24. Oh yes! Being told someone wants to offer you a contract is an amazing feeling. Congrats!

  25. I always find things I could improve on in my writing….always.
    Congrats on your contract.

  26. Loni Townsend

    I suck at writing short, so my approach goes in the opposite direction. I can write a big book, can I write a novella? If I can do a novella, what about a short story? But I totally get where you’re at. Keep it up!

  27. We want to do more than we actually can at any given moment. Yet that is how we grow and learn by exploring new frontiers. Those not do doable we hide in the basement like those knitted socks that look like torture devices. Have not actually knitted but pretty sure my first try will scare small children. Yet I can write them an awesome story to help with that trauma.

  28. I think the truth is that we always could do better – but that doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t great. If we tried to perfect everything we wrote, we’d never move on to other projects, right?

  29. Great post! I struggle with structure. I never feel I’m done. Writing is a tough taskmaster in that way!

  30. Like you, I am my own worst critic. But I keep trying, keep writing, and keep going because I love it.

  31. We are always our worst critics. I have been writing for our local newspaper since 2007, approximately 2-3 articles every month. My editor is happy; she keeps assigning stories to me, but whenever I have to write a new one, I panic. I tell myself: “I don’t know what to write. This one would defeat me, for sure.” Only the knowledge that the editor has already scheduled my article, and the space would be empty if I didn’t deliver (unacceptable) forces me to keep going. And the article is written, and it’s not bad. Usually. It’s rarely great too, but it’s there, published and read.

  32. We should all always be striving to push our boundaries and improve our work. Even though that’s terrifying. Great post!

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  33. Overthinking things is so easy to do. I wish having confidence in what I’m writing was just as easy. Why is it so much easier to criticize ourselves than to believe in our skills? We need to focus on the power of positive thinking.

  34. Doubts are all part of being a writer. It sounds like you’re getting ready to stretch your talents. Go for it, challenge yourself! We’ll be here to cheer you on!

  35. The contract one is a biggie. Congrats!

  36. That is sweet to hear. It’s understandable and normal to feel that way. Always questioning ourselves. But we’re writers. Insecure is our middle name. Which is why we’re in good company. ;-D

  37. I agree with how you feel about compliments for writing — actions speak louder than words. I think words are easy (and often fibs) but actions are honest. So being offered a contract or a book selling very well are the truthful expressions of admiration for our work. πŸ™‚

  38. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    I haven’t reached that contract offer yet, but it must be a very sweet moment, Anna! Congratulations on reaching that point! I think it’s good that you question and push yourself as a writer. That way you’re growing creatively. Happy writing this month!

  39. Tah dahhh! You got a contract offer! That must be very satisfying. I’m still plugging away, and sometimes I fear that no one will ever bite at my second novel. The first is–well, it’s a first novel. I love it, and I’ll probably self-publish it one day, but it’s not going to tear up the bestseller lists. And that’s how it usually goes with first novels. I’m working on my third, and am at least sure that I’m slowly improving.

  40. Hi, I agree that writing comes in stages and we plough through each stage diligently. Wow!!! Being offered a contract is the best compliment a writer can receive.

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG
    Rachna’s Scriptorium

  41. Lynda R Young

    Having someone like your work enough to stand behind it and publish it, that’s a huge compliment. The best!

  42. As writers, we’re always growing and learning and improving. And I think our insecurities come into play. I know I’ve wondered that myself, “could I have done better?” Even with my book that’s coming out in November, after I signed the contract, I started second guessing myself, wondering if it was truly good enough.

    But I agree with you, the best compliment is to have someone love your work enough to want to publish it! πŸ™‚

  43. We do want to get better and keep pushing as we do new ones, I think that’s only normal. Better than staying complacent, unless you’re a millionaire, then complacent isn’t bad lol

  44. I think that happens to all of us. I just try to keep writing through the doubts, partly because writing is so important to me that I don’t like to go a day without it.
    I love your best compliment!

  45. You are so right, what a beautiful comment! For us writers that is the best news!
    Of course you should write a book, duh!

  46. Growing and learning is part of the journey I guess … I hope I’m learning anyway! Keep moving forward. I think your best compliment is definitely sweet, congratulations.

  47. I’m constantly learning with each new piece of writing. And in turn, I feel like my previous writing suck even more than I originally thought lol It’s a constant battle. But at least it’s a battle that keeps us grounded. I think it’s a better alternative than thinking we know everything and writing garbage lol

  48. Always pushing the envelope is a good thing I think!

  49. I find writing short fiction to be night and day to longer fiction. Creating long stories comes easier for me than short stories, but I love them both. I’ve never been offered a contract- I’m an indie. I bet it’s an amazing feeling. Perhaps one day I’ll write a piece just for submission and challenge myself in a whole new torturous way.

  50. We are our own worst critic. We should look for the good stuff…and remember it. πŸ™‚

  51. My books consist of a lot of short stories I wrote previously. So yes go for it! Write the big book then incorporate the short stories when it makes sense.

    Stephen Tremp

  52. I think being offered a contract is certainly a sweet thing to hear. I’m not there yet,but I hope to hear those sweet words someday too.

  53. I’ve never gotten to the point where I’ve been offered a contract, so I think you can certainly revel in that one for quite a while.

  54. The answer to your question is “Only all the time.” I think that’s a good thing, Emaginette. That means you want to be better and that you’ll try. Guess we’re not ones to rest on those laurels. πŸ™‚

  55. Having produced a 3-book series for kids that I’m really proud of — and nothing since then that has been offered a contract — my insecurity is not that “I can do better.” It’s: ” Maybe I’ll never do that good again.” :/

  56. When I was younger, I also had no problem writing stuff. I loved getting essays in school. Couldn’t understand why my classmates didn’t.
    And I always doubt myself – I should have written this better – described that in more detail …blah….blah…blah.
    The joys of being a writer.

  57. Ah, yes. That mind blowing excitement learning that someone wanted to publish my manuscript was/is among the top ten. Some things can be better than a one minute orgasm. LOL

  58. Yeah, I still feel this way, but I also believe I can continue to improve, so I try to use that to motivate me to work hard.

  59. It’s always nice to have someone who wants to publish our work because they believe in it. I think knowing that you could do better is a sign of growth. When it’s the best it can be and stays the best it can be, then that’s when you stop growing and learning as a writer. We must always be willing to keep learning. πŸ™‚

  60. jennifer@badbirdreads

    Oh yes, that ever present doubt. You got to stuff that bugger down.

  61. Self-doubt can send me into endless rounds of edits. Leaning on my critique partners gets me through those difficult moments when I feel that I’m writing piffle. I’m confident you can tackle a novel-length project successfully. Maybe you could look at it as a series of shorts since you feel more confident with a shorter length.

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.