All Writers Are Insecure

I think all writers are insecure.

Or maybe it’s just that all people are insecure.

None of us feel like we have it all together. Or live up to our own billing. We worry that someday we will be found out.

hidden face

And to prevent that happening we hustle and talk and DO STUFF so that no one is ever able to see behind the curtain.

I just finished (really I need to say FINISHED because this one seemed to take FOREVER) my latest women’s fiction manuscript. I’d tell you the name, but it’s really a dumb name and I need to think of something better.

I sent it off to three beta readers and now I plan to just keep busy until I hear from them. I’ll distract myself with end-of-year-kid stuff like art shows and concerts and counties and GRADUATION (omg, I have a child-man who is graduating from college! How in the heck did that happen and does that make me officially ‘old’?)

Like every book before this one, I’m feeling a mixture of embarrassment and pride because I finished it (dang it) but it is also akin to walking out to get the paper in your underwear – the potential for looking ridiculous is huge.

But I trust these three readers. I trust their opinions and I trust their belief in me as a writer. Even if this one is totally stupid, they will find a kernel of something to appreciate and while they will point out all that is not working (because I’ve asked them to), they will also say – but you can do this (and mean it). They’ve seen behind the curtain and still believe in the power of Oz.

Every new story, blog post, essay, or article is always a risk. For every writer. At least, the writers I know. You can’t share your insides without eventually getting them stomped on. It happens. Thankfully, not as much as you think.

But it is the two-star review on Goodreads that haunts me, not the dozens of positive ones. Why do we (at least me) give so much credence to the negative? Are we looking for some validation that yes, yes, we are a fluke/fake? Where does all our early-childhood invincibility slink off to and why?

I’ve made it one of my goals for this year to shush those voices. I’m owning my abilities, such as they are (see?). I really do wish I could write like Ann Patchett or Wally Lamb, but I’m not them and I can’t be and there’s no sense comparing myself.

I work hard at my writing. It will speak to some people but not to everyone. Which is fine because, really, I don’t want my writing to speak to the haters or naysayers or the people who give two-star reviews and never listened to their mothers when they said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

I figure there’s plenty of mean in our world. And plenty of people who find entertainment value in that mean.

I’m not writing for them. And frankly, I don’t have time for them.

I’m writing for you – the dreamers and believers and people-who-look-for-good. The brave spirits who aren’t afraid to plumb their hearts, but value a happy ending; the ones who have a knack for love in all its forms. Most especially, for the people who believe in the power of a good story to change hearts and minds.


But I’m also writing for me—for the escape, the wonder, the magic, and all that I learn about the inner workings of my own heart when I spill a story on the page.

I hope you are writing.

And reading.

And believing in the story only you can tell.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.



If you’re curious about what I’m up to, check out my website,

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And If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at

Released Aug 2018 from Pegasus books:


Find out more about the book, how YOU can help shelter dogs and everything you wanted to know about fostering dogs at!


Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at

8 thoughts on “All Writers Are Insecure”

  1. I think whether we’re insecure or not depends on a lot of things like where we are in life, why we write in the first place, and what we hope for. You have had success as a novelist in the “real” world, and that’s a pressure I haven’t experienced. I can understand not wanting this book to be “less” than past novels in the eyes of agents, publishers, etc. I would feel that.

    Ironically, my “failure” has been liberating. I don’t expect ANYONE to read my books! But you know when I started out, I wouldn’t have seen it that way. 😀

    Reviews are tricky. When I finished The Price and solicited reviews, I got two. One of them is so off target it’s maddening. The reviewer compares it unfavorably to a book I would NEVER EVER EVER write and which is nothing like my book. It’s like saying, “The problem with Calvin and Hobbes is that it’s nothing like War and Peace.” I really hate that since I think an ideal review avoids comparisons. I didn’t mind the 3 stars, or anything else the reviewer said, but I hated that, and it obviously has latched onto me. HOWEVER since there are only two reviews, that review has power to turn people away from the book.

    I have confidence in you, Cara. You have a clear and energetic writing style and a generous heart. Your book will do well. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your example of comparing Calvin and Hobbes to War & Peace. I think that’s my problem – I lose my footing when I start to do that. I wish I was Maya Angelou or John Irving or Anne Lamott, but it’s silly to hold my writing up to theirs. I love your writing style as well and hope you will always keep at it. You are one of the real ones whose voice I trust.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Shucks ❤

        I was in a writing workshop a few years ago when I was writing The Brothers Path. That book has six protagonists. A guy in the workshop compared it to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and he meant it as an insult. OK, I'm no Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, but I was more honored than insulted. I dropped out of the workshop understanding that I have to write MY stuff. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I also think of this when I get discouraged about “why” 😀

        O Me! O Life!
        Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
        Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
        Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
        Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
        Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
        Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
        The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

        That you are here—that life exists and identity,
        That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cara, This is one of your best posts ever! Or should I say writings. Yes, you are incredibly talented and yes we are all insecure, but I’d love for you to know how truly talented I, for one, think you are (and I know I’m not the only one who thinks so). It’s wonderful to see your My Life in Paragraphs again. I know you’ve been busy (overwhelmed) with fostering, mothering, wifing (is that a word?). We, your fans, love to read your work and hope you’ll find the time to keep on writing. One of your many admirers, Victoria Zuckerman


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Victoria! yes, I have been overwhelmed, but life? right? It’s been renewing to finally get this story polished, and I’m inspired to focus on my fiction again. Of course, the dogs will always be here….Thanks for always being a one of my possie!


  3. I’m a huge fan of both your fiction and non-fiction, having read everything you’ve written thus far and looking forward to this next book. One of the things that comes through clearly is that you have a huge heart! Thanks for the stories.
    Trish Macvaugh

    Liked by 1 person

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