June 21, 2010

The Inadequacy Monster Rears Its Ugly Head

Last night, I finished a critique for a member of my online writer's group.


The voice, the tension, the historical detail. It was fantastic! I sent off my critique with two thumbs-up and a request to read more.

Then I took a look at my WIP and I thought to myself...


This needs work. The voice, the tension, the scientific details. (Yep, I'm writing another MG science fiction novel.) Egads! How am I going to fix this book?

And that's when the feelings of inadequacy sank in.

*Insert whiny voice* Why can't I write like my friend? Why isn't my voice as strong as hers? How come my writing sucks compared to hers? *End whiny voice*

Whenever I get down on my writing, I force myself to take a deep breath and give myself a mental slap for sounding so whiny. (No one likes whiners!) I try to focus on where my strengths lie. I try to remind myself of all of the things I've learned so far. And I try not to compare myself to others...but it's hard not to do so.

So how do you guys deal with feelings of inadequacy? Any tips on how to conquery the inadequacy monster? And do you find yourselves comparing your writing to other writers? Or is this one of my weird quirks? :o)


  1. I wish I didn't compare myself to others, but it happens more often than not. Published, unpublished yet agented, you name it... When this happens, I take a break from my WIP and brainstorm. What can I fix? Cut out? A ton of editing questions hit me all at once, then it's back to work.

    It's totally normal to feel the inadequacy monster coming after you, Caroline. What matters is how you shoo it away. Listen to yourself and tune everything else out for a while. I KNOW you can do it :D

    Best wishes!

  2. Oh my gosh- I hate that little green monster. With a passion.

    And yes, I compare myself to every author under the sun. And they're all better than me!

  3. Oh - I know the feeling :) It's especially painful when you're reading a published book with a similar premise to your own work :(

    And, i get it while beta-ing sometimes too - I am in awe of a few people I've been fortunate enough to beta for (three of them mow have agents for the WIP's I read)- especially the ones who do rising tension and brilliant climaxes so well.

    Nothing I can do I guess, except try to learn from reading and keep trying :)

  4. One thing to remember: reading something amazing is always a learning opportunity, especially if it's amazing in ways you suspect you're lacking. Really try to put your finger on whatever it is the writer does well--if you can articulate it, it's bound to benefit your own writing.

  5. Amparo - Thanks so much for the words of encouragement! I really need to bottle up some of your positivity and save it for a rainy day. :o)

    Stephanie - I'm glad I'm not alone in this! I guess most writers have to chase away that little green monster, huh?

    Nomes - Oh yeah, I totally agree! I beta read some books and I can't help but think, "Why isn't this published yet?!"

    Phoebe - That's some fantastic advice! A big thank you! I figure I'll always feel a bit inadequate when reading certain books, but the important thing is to find a learning opportunity out of it.

  6. Caroline, this post was too funny. Honestly, haven't we all read someone elses work and compared it to our own -- only to shut off the laptop and nearly rip out our hair? It's so hard not to but in the end, even if it makes us feel slightly inadequate or insecure about our own writing, at least it drives us to work harder and hopefully, make our work the best it can be.