Wednesday, July 5, 2017

ISWG: Just Keep Writing

Last spring my son had two piano performances—a festival and a recital—on the same day. I watched as he struggled to continue playing after he made a few mistakes (he wanted to start over) and another student did the same. But the interesting thing to me, is that neither of these students were beginners. The beginners don’t struggle as much if they make mistakes. These two kids had high standards and their fingers couldn’t keep up with how they imagined the piece should sound.

I realize I do the same thing with my writing.

I am thankful that writing is not a performance art. Unlike when I played piano, no one sees the tears I cry at a harsh critique or a rejection from a much hoped for agent. I get to do that in private, which I am extremely grateful for.

But like the piano students, my fingers haven’t caught up with my imagination.

With other things in my life, I pick a sane, easy route. (While I love to bake, I will not be making anyone a wedding cake any time soon.) But with writing, I have the strange desire to pick the hardest thing ever.

I wonder now if some of my problems with my earlier books are that I made everything too complicated: several hundred subplots, anyone? Mashups of as many genres as possible?

See, with writing, I don’t hold back. I am not sane. And the fact that I still need to develop as a writer has never stopped me from tackling something beyond my reach.

And now here I am, having just finished a draft of a new book. I still have a lot of work to do. My rough drafts are usually more like filled-in outlines; the big work of revision is ahead. And this book is complicated in every way: a culture not my own, a theme so close to my heart it feels about to burst, a genre I’ve never tackled before.

I’m afraid that I’m going to fall on my face, or behave like I did at my piano recitals, run out of the room crying.

But I wouldn’t be writing if I didn’t stretch myself, tackle a piece that’s just beyond my reach.

I need to remember the advice the adjudicator told my son: Just keep playing.

The question this month is what is the one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing? I’ve learned many things, but the most important is perseverance, or in other words, Just keep writing.

What is the one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

What is Insecure Writer's Group?

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

To see more ISWG posts or to sign up, go here. 


  1. That's great you push yourself in your writing. That's how you grow. And so agree that we just have to keep writing. With working on it like you do, we do get better. Hoping I am too as I just start picking up my writing again.

  2. That is a great analogy. And I can relate to your son as I hate it when I make a mistake now since I should know better. But we all make mistakes and at every level.

  3. Jenni, I wish you all the best with your revision. You can do it. As for your writing, I so identify with you. I don't hold back when I am writing either. My outlines are like filled in first drafts, very detailed. But just keep writing and keep moving forward.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G at Everything Must Change

  4. Yep, seeing mistakes now are way different than the past. Although looking back and knowing we made them can still make one cringe a bit haha

  5. Several hundred subplots? Hahahahaha! I can relate to that. Congrats on finishing your draft. Good luck on the revisions.

  6. I'm with you on every count, sister. I don't think I could do this for very long if i actually got to be a fly on the wall when my work is looked at and turned down.
    Performers are a special breed.
    Like others have said, you can do. I tell myself not to compare, and just DO. We're happier when we aim high than too low.

  7. Haha! At my first piano recital I went back to the beginning of the Beethoven. It's as if my fingers could not remember how to move unless I went through that troublesome measure. I agree with you on persevering. I'd add, keep learning along with the keep writing.