Feelings of Inadequacy

It’s hard not to compare ourselves to others. We compare our social status, financial situations, our grades in school. We compare our looks, our cars and our kids, even our abilities as writers.

Many of us post our writing on sites like Scribophile to be evaluated and critiqued by other writers. One of the very first chapters I read as a newbie was so beautifully written, with details and descriptions that jumped off the page causing me to really feel what the character was feeling.

After I read that chapter I cried a little. I felt like my writing was mediocre compared to what I’d just read and I wondered why I should even bother posting my own work. I sent a message to the author letting her know how moved I was by her work. I also made a note for myself describing what I loved about her writing – in this case detailed and vivid descriptions – so I could try to apply it to my own writing.

We as writers have different styles of composing. We have different education levels, different life experiences. These are some of the qualities that make our writing diverse.

Feeling inadequate or inferior may be a natural response when we compare our work to others’, but it’s important to remember that we are all different. There are many whose writing skills are better than ours and some whose skills are not as developed as ours.

What should we do when we come across someone’s work that we admire so much it makes us feel inferior?

One possibility – if it’s a community like Scribophile – is to send a message to the author. Let him or her know that you were impressed with their work. If there is something specific in their work that you would like to improve in your work, ask them if they have any suggestions for you.

Look online. There are so many resources on the internet for improving your writing skills.

Critiquing the work of others. No doubt you will come across many pieces that you feel are written better than your work. But you will also come across some that need more refining than yours. In this case it may help you to realize the strong points in your work. It might also help boost your confidence knowing that you can help others who are less experienced than you are.

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2 thoughts on “Feelings of Inadequacy

  1. Good post.
    I’m not spoiled with e-mails from readers telling me that they really enjoyed my work, but this week I actually did receive one, and I have to say…it made my day! Gave me wings.

    On Scribophile, most critiques are constructive and encouraging, and I think most of the members are really good at pointing out what they like in a text, as well as what doesn’t work so well. But now and then a gushing positive review is just what we need. Makes me smile for hours.

    It’s about finding the balance. To become confident enough to sift through feedback and decide whether the suggestions strengthen your work or if you’re at risk of losing your voice and control over it if you follow the advice.

    And I have to say, as a fresh writer, it’s a steep learning curve to suddenly look at writing as a craft and observe techniques and styles, not just read a story for entertainment. I’m enjoying every moment of it. Also those days when I feel like the crappiest wannabe writer ever.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post! I think we all have those days where we feel inferior as writers. I’m just beginning to realize I need more structure to my stories:P Sometimes I read a forum thread and think, I have no clue as to what they’re talking about:D I need to read more books… It certainly is a steep learning curve.

    Liked by 1 person

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