My Not-So-Secret to Writing

This is the first Wednesday of the month and I finally took the leap to join the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG). This online group was formed to share the woes and victories of being writers. Thank you to the founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh and the co-hosts for the June 3 posting: Pat Garcia, J. Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre.IWSG Badge

This month’s optional question: Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours? Something readers would never know from your work?

I hated English class. In eleventh grade, I got a D on a poem we were required to write.  Despite that, it was chosen for the school literary magazine. My teacher said I should change the wording – she still did not like the poem. I didn’t change anything, and it was published. But I truly dreaded writing since then. I was afraid to show anyone my work for fear of being belittled.

I love math. My graduate degree is in engineering. I was able to avoid having to do much writing in my classes.  I had been working several years when I was assigned to a team working on a proposal for a new system.  I submitted the text for my section. The senior engineer was patient, and I sweated over and over again to get the text right.

The next one was easier. Managers started asking me to be on their their proposal teams. Encouraged, I became reasonably good at making obscure engineering data intelligible.

I started to enjoy writing reports, even taking minutes at meetings became satisfying. I got more and more positive feedback.

Finally, I ventured to write a book. I joined a great little support group. We met monthly and over the next few years, I shared parts of the book. I brought one difficult section eight times, before I got the high five from my group.

I have since published that first book, and I am working on my third.

My secret – looking for and finding supportive critics and readers and actually listening to their advice! Is this really a secret? No, but I wish it had not taken me so long to figure it out. (Confession – I am still too nervous to try writing poetry.)



16 thoughts on “My Not-So-Secret to Writing

  1. I was lousy in math but feared my English teacher so much I couldn’t learn. Then in the 10th grade, I wrote an essay that won 3rd place. My teacher gave me an A for that one accomplishment, even though my essay had ‘atrocious’ grammar errors.


  2. Welcome to IWSG! It is so great that you kept going even after the discouragement of a teacher. I shudder to think how many creative souls have been crushed with similar comments. Teachers have tremendous power, and like witches, as Glinda taught us, that power can be used for good, or bad.


  3. Welcome to ISWG! You are so right about finding supportive people. I find it’s hard to find the right balance–people who are encouraging, but also not afraid of telling you the truth.
    I could relate to your story. I’ll never forget my D in English. It definitely humbled me and caused me to realize I’d have to work at this thing.


    • I am glad you were able to overcome getting a D. I was frozen by it, until I met some encouraging mentors later in my life, including some who are not afraid to tell the truth. Thank you for your comment and for your welcome.


  4. Welcome to IWSG! So many have been encouraged by supportive teachers, but it can be very damaging when the opposite is true. I’m glad you kept going and found a great support group – and you’ll find lots more support here!


  5. Welcome to the group and Happy IWSG Day!
    So many teachers play a vital role in encouraging creative pursuits, but there’s always one or two who are too critical and stifle creativity. I’m glad you were able to overcome this. Maybe one day you’ll start to write some poetry just for you.


    • Maybe I will write some poetry. I did take a workshop on writing poetry from a local author, Pam Baggett. I actually wrote the poems that she assigned in the workshop exercises — not great ones, but it’s a start. Thank you for your welcome and your comments.


  6. I love this! Poetry can be so subjective. Bummer she gave you a D. Just goes to show that’s a difficult subject to “grade.”

    That being said, I’m still trying to enter the business of publishing. It’s a process for sure. But I’ve had a good start finding some supportive readers, which has indeed made quite a difference. I’ll keep plugging along. Thanks for the encouragement.


  7. I’m glad you didn’t change your poem. It sounds like it was perfect the way it was. It takes a long time to develop a thick skin to handle criticism. I know that from experience. The best thing you can do is follow your own gut instincts. They never steer you wrong. Glad you joined IWSG!


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