IWSG - Writer's Remorse

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a once-monthly blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh that provides authors with an avenue to share their doubts and concerns (without fear of appearing foolish or weak), and to offer one another assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every first Wednesday of the month we gather to connect with one another and share our insecurities. As it so happens, this month is the 2 year anniversary of the IWSG, so congrats to everybody for sticking with it!

My post this month is all about writer's remorse. Unlike buyer's remorse, where we find ourselves regretting a purchase, writer's remorse is all about second-guessing something you've created. When you're chasing an idea, trying to corner it and capture it on the page, there's an incredible amount of energy involved. We have a boundless enthusiasm for the story, and one hundred percent commitment to following it through, no matter where it demands we go.

It's these kinds of stories that are the most exciting, because they seduce us into taking chances and laying our innermost thoughts and emotions bare. There's a incredible thrill involved in confessing things to the page that you could never speak aloud, whether it's your own fears and insecurities, or a kind of extreme wish-fulfillment.

These are also the stories we second-guess the next morning, the ones we invariably want to pull back from, to edit back to the safe side of respectability. You sit down to polish that final draft, and suddenly you find you're cutting scenes, changing dialogue, and ultimately dulling its edge. What was once dangerous and full of emotion is suddenly safe . . . and bland. It doesn't happen with every story, but when it does, the 'safe' version is never as compelling as the original.

So, what do you do about it?

Last night I denied myself the opportunity. About 4.5 hours into a late night writing marathon, a story that I had long ago abandoned as too pretentious and needy was suddenly transformed into a perfect 'monsters' among us tale. There were some images and turns of language that I really, really liked, and I knew it was just dark and daring enough to have a shot at the anthology I was aiming for. I also knew that that light of day would see me beset by second thoughts, scaling things back, and deliberately softening the emotional element.

Not this time. No regrets. No remorse. I took a chance on allowing a few lingering grammatical issues to escape my control and just submitted it. I accepted that there might be a few rough phrases, or maybe a bit of awkward punctuation, and trusted in the strength of the story. I went right from final draft, to quick-and-dirty polish, to immediate submission.

I'm not an impulsive person, and I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, so that bothered me . . . but I know it was the right thing to do.

Or, at least, so I hope. :)


  1. Thanks for sharing that. I do spend a great deal of time trying to make my stories safe and I'm only recently learning that is not always the way to go.
    I admire you for taking the chance - it can be all too easy to talk ourselves in to staying safe.

  2. You went for it - awesome! Sometimes we kill ourselves just trying to make it perfect or doubting what we've created.
    Hope you get good news!


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