Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Plague of Inadequacy

Victoria Schwab

I've been so absent. But then, I knew this was coming--there is a vastly different feel to writing TOWARD the hope of publication and writing AFTER you've signed a contract--and your editor has set a date. It's odd, really; I'm doing the same thing I've been doing for thirteen years, but the underlying pressure of knowing it's already sold and I-have-to-get-this-right is a reality I'm learning to embrace.

Victoria (V.E.) Schwab recently posted the above quote on Instagram. I read it and it stabbed me deep in my belly, because THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I FEEL. The encouraging part is that the feeling of inadequacy isn't paralyzing me. I simply keep pressing ahead, writing my 1000 words a day, learning to multitask story restructuring with continued drafting (definitely a new place for me). And I'm learning that pressing through the underlying belief that I don't know what I'm doing and every word on the page is dung is making me stronger and more capable.

Mind you, there are always the unbidden bouts of angst that grab me by the entrails and shake my world for a time. That's when the tears come--those moments where I truly and utterly believe that I CAN'T DO WHAT I'M ACTUALLY DOING.

Think about that. I'm DOING it, but I don't believe I CAN do it. Even though I've DONE it before.

Are you feeling it? Nodding vehemently, maybe? Fighting your own tears?

What we create is always bigger than we are, because that's what art is, in all its forms. BIGGER than us, to draw us out and encourage our minds and hearts and spirits to expand. It's also bigger than us because it really does take a village to create a book. We all know that writing doesn't take place in a vacuum, and that the input from our beta readers and critique partners and agents and editors is a huge part of each story's development and final state.

Yet the feelings of inadequacy persist. So I fight through them every day, enjoying moments of sparkle and moments of hope along the way (though it's not unusual to have many days in a row without any hope at all). Sometimes I actually say out loud to myself, "Why am I doing this?" or even "I can't do this."

Seriously. That's called SPEAKING LIES TO YOURSELF. And I know better.

Anyway. As soon as I read Victoria's words this morning, I knew I had to share them. My brain screamed THIS THIS THIS THIS until I saved the file and opened Blogger. Because always, always, always, there is someone who desperately needs not to feel alone. Someone who feels so inadequate in the moment that quitting feels easier.

Don't do it. Don't quit.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm heading back to Scrivener and my hot mess of a story (that, deep-down inside, I'm excited about, despite the first draft slog and the constant I-can't-do-this), and I'm going to SLAY the sense of inadequacy today.

And so are you.


  1. I am completely gobsmacked at the pertinent arival of this email. It mirrors absolutely the way I've been feeling all day as I wrestle with a recalcitrant story that will simply not go my way! It's exactly what I needed to hear - not a word of a lie. Somebody round here is a mind reader, is all I can say.

    1. I love, love, love that this happened. Usually, when something niggles at me to be written, this is why. Take heart, fellow writer!!

  2. You go! I totally get how the pressure is different, though I haven't sold a book. (It's the same with artwork.)

    1. I believe you! It's the same principle, for sure. And you can feel inadequate regardless of whether or not whatever it is you're creating has sold. Funny how this can be so soul-crushing, but we keep loving and doing it! :)

  3. PERFECT TIMING. I am one of more than 200 authors speaking at the Louisiana Book Festival this weekend, yet I have those all-too-familiar "They'll find out I'm a fake" feelings...even though I have three published books.

    1. Ohhhh, big hugs to you! I HATE those "they'll find out I'm a fake" feelings---where do they come from, anyway?

      You've got this!

  4. Yes! I feel the same way, and my attempt to use NaNo to try and get the draft for my contracted book 2 done (and that's just the draft) after half a dozen false starts... Yes, that quote is sooo appropo!

    1. That sounds like a great plan, though! There's something so intimidating about this contracted book 2 stuff. But we've got this!

  5. My brain had the same reaction to the quote. Instant truth. It's always so important to remember that no matter how successful a writer is, they still have times they feel inadequate, like frauds. We all have that insecurity and need to hang on to that hope and joy. I've been struggling in my to get consistency in my own writing, so this was great timing.

    1. I'm always glad to know that something I've written timed well for someone! :) Yes, that "I'm a fraud" is so's crazy. If nobody actually knew what they were doing, there wouldn't be any books!

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