Category Archives: Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Kindergarten Wisdom: “Writing and Blogging is Awesome”

Life’s been busy, and I will admit I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with myself.  Mostly I just want to put out there a few words of wisdom I received in January.  A month that, once again, did not go as planned.

I didn’t meet my writing goals, or my editing goals.  I ended up putting a lot more time into side-projects (like Taliana’s UnBirthday party).  I had moments of uncertainty — where I wondered if I was losing my grasp and focus on my writing.

But I keep looking back at one particular present I got this year for my birthday.

For my birthday last month the daughter of one of my friends made me a card.  A little poem that now hangs on the bulletin board near my desk.  The best line of it: “Writing and Blogging is awesome.”

Writing is a part of who I am.  So much so that a girl in Kindergarten, whom I only get to see rarely (not nearly enough — such an awesome kiddo!), knows it.  It doesn’t matter to her that I didn’t edit as much as I wanted, or that my writing took a bit more time than I planned to get on the page.  She just knows that it is what I do.  And that it is awesome.

So remember that, fellow writers and bloggers.  I happen to know that this particular little girl is quite wise (and very smart, like scary-smart sometimes).  If she says that writing and blogging is awesome, I am inclined to believe her.  And I like to think that we who participate in such activities are awesome too.

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This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a IWSG badgegreat 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. 

We have also, recently, put out a new book, for free (through most sites).  Check it out for all sorts of great articles on topics from writing to publishing, everything in-between and beyond!

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Making Room Not To Write – Plus an Introduction

December was a month that saw very little writing on my part.  I had these grand plans for the month, I was going to get so much writing done, do some plotting for future editing, things like that.

But December did not go as I planned.  Almost no writing got done.  Absolutely no blog-formatting got done. Nearly no reading got done.

I’ll admit, I spent a bit of time beating myself up about that all.  I’ve told myself that I should have pushed, that I should have written even if it was a struggle, that I needed to write, that even if I wasn’t writing at least I could have looked at the layout of Disparate Threads, or revisited the outline of my novel-draft, or read more books. Something.

But I didn’t.  I hung out with friends some, and watched entirely too many shows on Netflix.  I did a little bit of cleaning, and a fair amount of sleeping.  There was work at the day job in there too, of course.  And I did make some Christmas gifts.

Still, I was beating myself up for not writing.  I wondered if I had been just fooling myself about being able to do “this writing thing.”  I had moments of wanting to think of myself as a failure — but something held me back from giving over entirely to that thought.

As I start to ease back into the writing work that I had intended to do in December, I realize something very important.  I needed to give myself that break — it wasn’t failure, rather self-care. Yes, sometimes there is a need to push yourself to keep going, even if you don’t feel like it, but sometimes it’s also important to allow yourself room to take a breath.  Giving myself permission to allow the space to not write helps me as I step back into my writing now.  A break does not mean failure.  Sometimes, a break is needed in order to refresh, recharge, and be able to keep going.

Yes, I’ve told myself this before, but apparently I need to be told it again.


This month we were invited to write a little Introduction about ourselves – so I’ll take a brief moment to do so.  There’s also plenty of “who am I?” pondering and rambling in my About Me page.

I’m Allison, and I hate writing bio’s and “about me” posts… I’m just bad at introducing myself.  I’m a writer, and technically a published author and poet, though the published piece isn’t something I mention often because I still feel like a fake in that regard in some ways.  I have an MA in Religion, a BA in History, and ponder going on for another Masters (in Public History) and maybe even a Doctorate. But for now I am focusing on keeping up at my pay-the-bills-job, and juggling my blogging and fiction writing in order to get an actual, functional, draft of my first novel done by the fall of 2015 (self-set goal). Also, I endeavor to stop using “and” and “but” at the start of so many of my sentences.


This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a IWSG badgegreat 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. 

We have also, recently, put out a new book, for free (through most sites).  Check it out for all sorts of great articles on topics from writing to publishing, everything in-between and beyond!

Giving yourself a break!

I had a post in mind for this months Insecure Writer’s Support Group post… But then I got slammed with feeling sick, overwhelmed, and on buses that wanted to run late.

So instead I write this, on my phone while waiting to get home after a long day (and briefly edit before heading to work the next morning).

When I get home I plan to curl up and go to bed, I’ve been dreaming about it all day.  Because I  am drained, completely and thoroughly.
It really should be no surprise. I “won” NaNoWriMo this month, while working full time with a long commute, still keeping up on this blog and other projects, AND I cooked and prepared meals for much of a two-day Thanksgiving extravaganza, and the rest of the month wasn’t exactly low-key on the social scale. I should be tired.

And yet, I feel guilty for not planning to write tonight. For not writing much at all since the 26th.

I have to remind myself (and I am sure I’m not the only one needing this reminder), that we need to give ourselves breaks. Sometimes life overwhelms, and we then need to step back and give ourselves room to breath.  It doesn’t make one any less of a writer to not write for a short while – we need to take time to rest, and that’s okay. You know, sometimes it’s even okay to decide to watch some tv, rather than read a book – just another form of storytelling.

Pushing ourselves to far without a break can be detrimental. It can cause those insecurities to flare up and take control because we are weakened.  Just like a body pushed beyond its limit with not sleeping as well as you should, or not eating properly, can make you more vulnerable to illness, pushing yourself with your work too much (a little pushing is important) can make you more likely to start over-criticizing and questioning your ability and the worth of your art.

Writing is a draining activity – even in those amazing moments of story creation you are using a lot of energy and effort. So be sure to take the time to allow yourselves to refuel.

Sometimes it is okay to let yourself take a break. Sometimes it is even necessary.


Also, exciting news!  The Insecure Writer’s Support Group has a new book out!  For free (through most sites).  Check it out for all sorts of great articles on topics from writing to publishing, everything in-between and beyond!


This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a IWSG badgegreat 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.  

Juggling Act

My elementary school gym teacher was also a clown, so my gym classes included things like juggling, riding a unicycle, and balancing a feather on your hand (and getting occasional opportunities to watch his ventriloquism act).  I learned valuable lessons in those classes, ones that I can readily apply to my life now — especially my writing life.

When we started juggling we used scarves.  Up goes one scarf, catch it.  Up goes one scarf, up goes another, catch, catch.  Throw, throw, catch, catch.    You learn a pattern, start out slow, and then build.  After mastering three scarves, you switch to juggling balls or bean-bags.  Throw, catch.  Throw, throw, catch, catch.  And then, when you get really good at that:  throw, throw, catch, throw, catch,  throw… or something like that.  I never quite managed to build to three very well.

I can sometimes keep three small stuffed animals in the air (enough to entertain toddlers), last time I tried a unicycle was probably about two decades ago (I think I did okay), and I still can balance a peacock feather on my hand like a pro.

But some people I know, they can juggle three, or even more exciting things.  Some of them can even do it while balancing on a unicycle.   They didn’t get there overnight, it took a lot of practice, dedication, and some amount of skill.

 As writers we’re always juggling.  There are paying jobs (writing or otherwise), families, friends, self-care, and writing to keep up with.  Within the writing itself there are often multiple characters, plot-lines, plot-snags, grammatical rules to obey (or not), scenes clamoring to be written, and scenes presenting problems.  Add to that social media, the “writer/author platforms,” networking and (if you have work already produced) marketing.  It is a lot to keep moving.

I’m early in the process.  I have to remind myself of that.  Just like juggling started out with the lightweight scarves, slowly building to more challenging things to catch.  We have to build up slowly, taking on too much at too quickly can end badly, like a novice juggler deciding to try knives or flames.

We’re all move at our own paces.  While the kid next to me may have been able to move from the scarves to the juggling balls faster than me, I might have been able to master the unicycle with more ease.

Writing is about balance.  “Just keep writing,” is bandied about as an important phrase, when you don’t feel like writing, keep writing.  But sometimes this isn’t the case.  Sometimes you need to just STOP writing, to give yourself room to breath.  When you’re juggling, if you start to lose the rhythm, you can quickly lose control, and it wont be long before they all fall.  You have to pace yourself.  You have to keep an eye to the rhythm.  Yes, it may speed up or slow down, but it is still there.

Same with writing.  Sometimes you’ll push and move fast, sometimes you’ll slow down and there will be more space between writing sessions.  There is a rhythm unique to you, and you need to learn to listen to that.

There are times when you can do it all.  When you can sit on the unicycle, juggling flaming knives while playing the kazoo and causing the tree to sing the alphabet backwards.  Embrace those moments when the world comes together and you are in “the flow” and able to do it all.  For me they are relatively rare, and I need to remember that they are not the bar to which I should hold myself, but rather a dream to reach for.

Other times you have to do things one at a time.  Start slowly and allow yourself space to breath.  There’s nothing wrong with only riding the unicycle for a while, or going back to scarves for a while to get your grounding.  Take your time.  It’s okay to have stumbles, to not get something written — because you can only do so much.  We can’t all always be juggling masters.

So.. it may be a somewhat jumbled metaphor but… I think it works.  Especially right now, in the starting stages of NaNo where I need to be reminded that, while it is a bit of a marathon, I still need to pace myself, and keep balancing in mind.


IWSG badge

  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.

Get Outta My Way! Pushing Past Amazing

I already knew that I was my own worst critic, but recently I have realized how much I can get in my own way.

An upcoming deadline to submit a piece of writing is a great example, making me realize the layers of the challenge.  I’ve known for a month that I wanted to write something for the Insecure Writers Support Group anthology.  Yet, here I am at the edge of the deadline with nothing written, struggling to find an idea.

I’m not just struggling for an idea for the one project, but for any of my writing.  The struggle is contagious, or perhaps just builds on itself.  For the first time in months I am sitting down in front of my Work-in-Process and having NO ideas.  Sure, I’ve struggled before with a character, found myself edging up self-set deadlines unsure if I’d make them.  But this is different.  This time it feels like all my ideas are hiding, running from me as fast as they can.  It’s even spreading to my job — basic language to convey basic information that, on a normal day, would be simple for me to write becomes an all-consuming challenge.

The reason, I think, is the pressure I’ve started putting on myself.   I see an opportunity, something that would be excellent (and so cool) to be a part of.  Which means, of course, that whatever I put together for it would have to be AMAZING.

There it is.

AMAZING.  

My own version of “perfect.”  I’m fine sweeping away the idea of perfection — I know that is something that can’t be achieved — but AMAZING…. that should be attainable.

But, what is amazing?  It’s a high-bar to reach, and it means every single idea and every single word gets super-analyzed.  It means NOTHING is good enough.  Nothing is original enough, nothing will do.

As long as I hold myself to an expectation that is undefined, and unattainable, I set myself up to fail.  Which then destroys my sense of being able to accomplish things, which feeds into over-analyzing all the writing and so on and so on.  A vicious cycle.

Sometimes I have to just get out of my own way.  I have to let go of this idea of “amazing.”  I have to just write.  No matter how stupid the idea might be, write it.  Editing can happen later, but if I don’t get anything on the page I end up with nothing at all.

This time, though, I couldn’t quite get myself to put words on the page.  Perhaps (hopefully) recognizing the challenge will help open the floodgates.  Though I do find myself wondering how many times I need to be reminded that I have to get out of my own way before it starts to stick.

So this months post, basically, boils down to explaining why you won’t find an article by me in the Insecure Writers Support Group anthology (though when it is put together I most certainly will be spreading the word to everyone!)

I hope I can start pushing beyond that block.  Stop holding myself to some huge “amazing” expectation, instead recognize that simply writing in the first place is pretty awesome.

[Edit:  Thanks to all the support below, this post has been revised and submitted for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology.  Thank you all!]


IWSG badge

 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.

Wanted: Thick-skinned, hypersensitive, observant daydreamer.

I can imagine the advertisement and the job description:

This position requires a sensitive individual, who can be in-tune with the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of a vast array of people.  You must be able to place yourself into the shoes of another, sometimes many others in one sitting.  A keen observer of human nature and the world around you, this positions required you also be an excellent communicator able to articulate these observations with language that engages the reader, is accessible and original.  It takes years of hard work, practice, and a lot of time and energy which must never show in the finished product.

It is the societal expectation that this individual also be moody, somewhat reclusive, and exhibit moments of oddity.  However, you must also be a marketing mastermind, able to promote yourself and your product, without being too pushy, of course.  Be your authentic self, which, at minimum, means witty, engaging, reflective and wise.  If you are not these things, then you must learn to pretend.

Additionally, you must have thick skin.  Though you have mastered this craft, the position requires that you prepare to gracefully take criticism from everyone.   That guy on the street-corner who chats cordially with the shrubbery and yells at the cars?  He may well decide to leave a review tearing your work to shreds — and he is well within his right to do so, and he may well sign that review with claims to great writing credentials.  You are expected to take the review of the cat-chatting, car-yelling Continue reading Wanted: Thick-skinned, hypersensitive, observant daydreamer.

Writing My Way: Sacrifice… Kinda, Sorta…

I’m realizing how much power can come from making something “a priority” in your life.  It causes you to look at everything you are spending your time on, weighing it out to decide if it is worth taking the time away from what you really want to be doing, thus causing you to look at all those things that take your time, and debate if they are worth it or not.  At least, this has been my experience.

For a long time I hesitated in “making myself write” because I did not want my enjoyable pastime to become a chore.  I did not write (fiction) unless I felt like it; I did not write unless the ideas flowed freely (or I was pretty convinced that they would if I got over that one obstacle).  If a new story idea caught my interest I would quickly abandon the old.  As for editing… editing was a thing I did rarely (outside of homework assignments for creative writing classes), because it wasn’t fun.

But this year I’ve had a renewed commitment to my writing.  I’ve begun to step away from my fear of failing enough to be willing to try. This willingness to try has translated into allowing my writing to become my work, not my job (that’s the thing that pays the bills), but work nonetheless.  Deserving of real time and attention.  Even when I don’t necessarily feel like it.

I’ll never be the kind of person who writes X-words a day.  I’ve tried, it doesn’t work for me.  I work it bits and pieces instead, some days I’ll pound out thousands of words, others I’ll be lucky to get 5.   But I know that I have to set aside SOME amount of time each week if I want to get things done, and I have to hold myself to that.

Which means occasionally having to say, “No” to things in order to make room for writing.   It means keeping my writing in my mind when I make decisions.  I have to sometimes be willing to prioritize my writing above other things.

These decisions are not always easy to make.  I would love to fill my weekends with social time with friends, vegging-out at movies, baking and cooking, and perhaps even some cleaning.  But if I do fill the weekends it means that I don’t have time to write, writing I need to do in order to make progress, and to stay on-top of my goals.

Would I like to jump to that project, or perhaps that other one, or oooh…shiny!?  Yes… of course.  But then other things get lost, and I never come to any real product.

Sometimes this means making challenging decisions.  Deciding where I want to place my energy and focus, paying close attention to what my dreams and goals really are and how I can reach for them.  Weighing the pro’s and con’s for any given opportunity and deciding if it is worth taking more time from my craft.

It’s frightening to make some of these decisions.  I can’t help but wonder if I’m making a mistake, chasing a pipe-dream.  Will I burn out in 6-months and find myself unable to push through?  Will I look back in a year and regret passing-up some of the things that I have said “no” to?

It comes back, always, to trusting my gut, listening to myself, and being willing to face the true challenges of following my dreams.

I know many of my readers are writers themselves, but I am sure there are some who have other crafts and art-forms.  What are some of the sacrifices you’ve made for your work?  Do you still think it was worth it?

IWSG badge

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