Insecure Writer’s Support Group: January 2017 Writing Goals, with uncertainty

Dang.. how is it already January?

What better way to start this year out than laying out some of my January Writing Goals – particularly, because it is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, in terms of how I’m a bit unsure of myself as I approach them.

Goal 1) For the month of January only I’m going to aim to write at least 500 words every single day. Part of this is a challenge that I’m doing with a few friends (we all have projects we need to make progress on) and part is because I’ve decided to give the monthly writing challenge a try over on Twitter. I’m worried because, while I can pretty easily scribble out 500 words of something daily, I have a goal to make these 500 useful words. Blog posts, fiction writing or rewriting… I am looking to write 500 words of USABLE words a day. Some days this will be simple enough, but I am worried that I won’t be able to make it happen every single day of the month. And if I don’t, will I be able to allow myself to not just give up and throw the entire goal away?

Goal 2) Write more blog posts to contribute to other blog-sites (starting with Comparative Geeks, Part-Time Monster, and perhaps some for Hannah Reads Books, if she’ll have me. I’ve written for these guys before, am welcome to again, but I have to do two things to make it happen.  First, I need to figure out what I want to write for them. Then I need to follow through. I know I can do this, I put together blog posts here pretty regularly after all.  But as soon as I start writing for someone else’s blog, I start to overthink and over-analyze.  Will what I write be good enough for them?  Will they decide I’m a HORRIBLE WRITER and never let me submit anything ever again, and decide that they hate me for it? I mean, I know these aren’t all true (at least I hope not!) it doesn’t make it easier to shut that anxiety-ridden part of my brain off. Which means having to push through that to make the writing happen.  It’s impossible to be told your writing sucks if you don’t actually put it out there. Of course, then you also never get to say what you want to say and the ideas behind the posts never get shared.

Goal 3) Begin to work on the re-writes for The Novel I’ve had sitting on the shelf for far to long. I am feeling drawn to it again, and I desperately want to make the changes I know need to be made so that I can finally get some other eyes on it. I’m nervous about this, though, because it has been on the shelf for over a year.  What if I start in on it and realize that it’s a lost cause?  What if I put in all the work and let a few trusted friends read it, and they think it’s terrible?  Then what?  I know I have to push past these fears, put in the work and make the story what I know it can be… it’s just a hard thing to push myself back into after so long away!

As for the question of the month:

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

This one is easy.

I started writing as an escape during the late Middle School years. By the time I took my first creative writing class (late High School), I’d already learned a lot of the writing basics through my own trial-and-error, and thanks to being a rather avid reader.  The problem was, somewhere before I even thought to consider myself a writer, I heard the rule: Write what you know.

I absolutely hate this “rule.” When taken literally it severely limits the writer, keeps you from being able to really embrace where your creativity wants to take you. I thought it meant that the only writing I could ever hope to do would deal with a girl like me. And a girl like me didn’t have a whole lot exciting to write about.  I later came to interpret it as meaning that I should dig through my own experiences to help inform my characters reactions and feelings. I draw on conversations I can actually imagine happening to help me write dialog (I’m rather proud of my dialog, I’ve been told by a few people over the years that my dialog is very “real,” in a good way. It’s one of those things I hold onto, for when the writing gets tough). I let “what I know” inform my writing – but I certainly don’t limit myself to writing experiences I have actually lived.  It took far longer than I like, but I finally gave myself permission to take these rules that don’t serve me and throw them right out the window.



This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.

There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection!  More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.


19 thoughts on “Insecure Writer’s Support Group: January 2017 Writing Goals, with uncertainty”

  1. You’re definitely not a horrible writer. You’re one of like 5 people whose blogs I read regularly, because you can write.

    Regarding “write what you know.” I think people misconstrue this a lot. When it was explained to me (by literally the only person who ever gave me helpful advice) what she said was to use what you know to ground and contextualize what you’re making up. (Paraphrasing.)

    Primary example I have is a post I wrote over on WOS.

    The Synn stories are made up. They’re set on a fantasy world with magical animals where people use gates and portals to travel through space and into other dimensions. It’s the most wildly imaginative place I can think of.

    But it’s grounded and contextualized by my knowledge of early New England history, including industrial development, politics, farming practices, local mythology and more.

    Those things are intimately familiar to me and give Synn a sense of being a “real” place.

    I do the same thing in shorter works with, for example, a description of sounds or smells as a character is making coffee.

    All that to say, I wish people would give examples and explain things when they give advice to young writers, because I see a lot of people laboring under destructive misconceptions about what these oft-repeated phrases actually mean.


    1. Ah, thanks Rose 🙂 I know I’m not a horrible writer, like, deep down… but you know how it goes. Yay, anxiety.
      And, you’ve got it spot on – I eventually came to realize what “write what you know” was getting at, and am able to USE that well — but it was such a stumbling block to me as a young writer, I really could have used less “words of wisdom from wise writers” and more context and explanation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve recently realized that one of the people whose opinions I always trusted in regard to writing advice either had no idea what he was talking about or was actively sabotaging me, so I’m sort of processing a lot of advice I was given lately.


  2. I totally agree. Write what you don’t know is the challenge in my eyes. There are so many things I see story potential in, that I too, haven’t necessarily experienced. To me, that’s science in writing. We discover along the way and expose truths and themes important to our characters and our stories. Social Media makes it easier to break this rule. Youtube is my favorite 😉


  3. Good luck on your goals for the year! Having a plan and sticking to it will hopefully help. I just got around to setting goals for myself for the first time so 2017 will be an experiment in how well I stick to things. Happy new year!


  4. Write what you know is a weird one. It’s totally limiting on the surface, but sometimes I view it like adding my own personality or little things I see in life to make writing feel more realistic. But I typically don’t like this advice either.

    My IWSG post this month is about how to set realistic writing goals. The post is here on my StephanieScott website.


  5. For me, writing “what I know” works, because I hate doing research and, luckily for me, my life is one big adventure made up of little twists and turns along the way, creating heaps of unique experiences. You guessed it… I like writing non-fiction. 🙂


    1. I like some non-fiction writing, but even then it doesn’t tend to be about my own life – the things that are really interesting are either too close for me to share, or not mine to write. So even the nonfiction I write tends to include research! But, then, I love to research…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Alli,
    Good luck with your goals this year! I understand you so much on point two. In my business writing, I have an especially hard time writing for clients who liked my work the first time around – which I know is totally crazy because it should be the reverse. Why is it so hard, right?
    This is the second IWSG post I’ve read so far and you both agree about the “writing what you know” rule! Great minds think alike! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think your translation of write what you know is right. It doesn’t mean you can only write someone like you who lives in a house like you and has a regular life. But you use the experiences and knowledge you have and translate it into useful characterization and plot where you can.


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