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Ever Feel Insecure About Writing? Here’s the Cure.

Everyone has moments where they feel insecure about writing. When I wrote my last blog post, I asked my assistant Geri to read it and let me know if it held together.

Lisa Tener Book Coach helps those who feel insecure about writing

My mind still felt a bit muddy and I had no idea whether it worked in bringing together the different ideas that coalesced in my brain. Would it have meaning to other people?

I respect your time and want to live up to your trust in me. I don’t want to send out something that’s half baked. Geri gave last week’s post the go ahead, but I still felt a bit uncertain. Sure, it worked for her, but Geri knows me and the way my brain works. Plus, she’s not writing a book or a blog (that I know of!). Would it provide value to you?

Feedback Counters Writing Insecurity and Self-Doubt

Arun Singh, MD, Lisa Tener, John Hanc
John Hanc and me with Arun Singh, MD, at Dr. Singh’s standing-room-only book signing for Your Heart, My Hands.

The morning the email went out, I received an email from my colleague, John Hanc, an award winning journalist and ghostwriter/co-writer. He said the post helped him. It’s the highest praise to know your work has impacted someone and made a difference for them. That’s a big part of why we write, yes?

Last week’s post wasn’t the most beautifully written work in the world (or even that I’ve written) but it had an impact for at least one person!

It’s magical to get positive feedback on your writing. It reinforces that you’re on the right track. It makes you just plain feel good.

But you don’t have to wait for feedback. It’s always a good idea to have someone read your writing, whether a freelance editor, a colleague or a friend. Even if your writing is already effective, your editor or reader might point out opportunities to go deeper, connections you may not have made, areas where you could make your point more clearly—or succinctly—and—heaven forbid—the occasional typo.

How to Get Feedback on Your Writing

If you feel insecure about writing—a blog post, an article, an email or a book, you might just ask an editor or reader whether the piece works—an overall assessment—and, if not, what’s missing. Here are other questions you may want to ask:

lisa editing book proposal
You can work with an editor in person or by phone/zoom and email. Mostly it’s done virtually.
  • What did you like most? That question frees your editor or reader to be honest later with the harder questions, plus it’s crucial not only to hear what’s wrong with the piece but to know what you’re doing right!
  • What did you want more of?
  • Where did you get bored or confused?
  • What else do you want me to know? (or another open ended question)

And, yes, you can invite your reader to alert you to typos. They’ll probably do that anyway. By limiting the number of questions, you make it easier for them to focus and give you feedback. Too many questions can overwhelm a reader (but not a professional freelancer editor—ask away when it comes to editors).

Of course, if you have a very specific question about whether a certain section works, or whether to focus on x or y, go in this direction or that one, then it makes sense to add those questions, too. You might break your questions down into two groups, then: general questions and specific ones.

How to Find the Right Editor (Goodbye to “Insecure About Writing”)

Make sure that the editor you hire has plenty of experience in your genre:

insecure about writing? Hire an editor
Download this ebook here.
  • Ask them for examples of books or other work they’ve edited or written in your genre.
  • Ask them what mistakes they most commonly see in that genre.
  • Certainly, look at any testimonials they have on their website. This should give you an idea of their skills, strengths and accomplishments.
  • And it’s always a good idea to ask for one or more references.

While I do some editing, part of my business is referring writers to editors and book coaches of all genres—from the areas I cover (self-help, how-to, business, spirituality, health, some memoir) to areas I do not work in myself (fiction, narrative nonfiction, all categories of children’s books, screenplays and niche genres, as well as blog posts, articles, web copy and more). So, if you need an editor, feel free to reach out and I can make a referral (and, yes, I do usually receive a commission from the writer, but that comes from their end, not yours, and is part of their marketing budget).

7 questions to ask an editor when insecure about writing

Download my free ebook: 7 Questions to Ask an Editor Before You Hire Yours. It will help you choose the right editor and make sure you’ve asked them all the right questions before hiring them (and then you can refer back to today’s post for the questions to ask them once you do hire them)! No more feeling insecure about writing!

What Do You Do When You Feel Insecure About Writing?

What do you do when you feel insecure about writing? Have you worked with beta readers or editors? Other tips? I welcome your comments, insights and questions.

  • What are your favorite questions to ask an editor or beta reader?
  • How did you find your readers and editor(s)?
  • Any tips or takeaways to share?

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. JOHN HANC says

    A valuable post, Lisa! As a professional writer, I can’t afford to be insecure about what I’m working on. But I am always looking for feedback along the way. I will often read the first few paragraphs to a friend or colleague, to get their reaction. And I regularly pitch my story or book ideas to my running buddies (hey, they’re a captive audience for 5 or 10 miles, why not? :).

    Seriously, I agree that soliciting the kind of feedback, and in the ways you describe here, is critical to the writing process, whether you’re new to it or a veteran. Thanks again for sharing that with your community.

    • Lisa Tener says

      I love that you run ideas by your running buddies! And thanks for sharing that even pros get feedback! Maybe especially pros!

  2. James Zender says

    I used about five different editors on my book project and for blogs have three people give feedback. Input from editors can take a piece from very good to fantastic. It is important for editors to be positive, supportive and empowering. You may need to change editors if they are poor fit. James F. Zender, PhD

  3. Frances Caballo says

    Everyone feels insecure when they sit down to write. I’ve asked myself: Why am I doing this? Is it a waste of time? I’ll never be like (fill in the names of the people you often compare yourself to.) The way to counter these feelings of being an impostor is to stop comparing yourself to others and just write. Write your heart out, find a great edit, and voila. You will have written the best book you can and in the end, that’s all that matters.

    • Lisa Tener says

      Frances, that is such great advice. Our writing is always more powerful when we let go of trying to be “perfect” or even “good” and come from our hearts!

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