writers / writing

#IWSG–My Writing Style Doesn’t Work

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out like Kate and Rebecca who inspired me to begin). The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity:  What if my style of writing just doesn’t work for the genre I selected?

I have been writing for about 17 years. I started as a fiction writer (had no idea what my genre was), took some classes. Got excited about writing as a craft. I thought it was something I could be passionate about for a lifetime so I wrote a novel. It wasn’t well received. That didn’t stop me. I kept writing and submitting and filing. Write. Submit. File rejection letters. Repeat. Being a smart person, I figured out this wasn’t going to pay the bills so I started writing tech-in-education articles, books, stuff. That worked well. I seemed to have found a good balance of layspeak and tech for lots of people.

But I kept writing fiction, now focused on thrillers. Still I write. Submit. Get rejected. Repeat.

I’m starting to wonder if my writing style doesn’t work for fiction. I’m organized, almost methodical. I like approaches like the Marshall Plan that tells me how many scenes my characters should be part of (not to say I follow it all the time. I like being a rebel). I create my draft in Excel so I can add rows, ideas with alacrity, then convert everything to Word. I probably have all the required pieces of a novel, but I wonder if I’ve organized out the passion. Emotion. Little surprises that just happen and make readers come back.

Don’t get me wrong–I’ve had some success. A first place in a writing competition. Quarter finals in ABNA. I even had an agent for a while… That’s another story. People I respect swear it’s the Universe being quirky, not me being hopeless. I’ve tried quitting, but I’m back at it within weeks, like an addict. I know people who quit smoking and their rough period starts when they quit and continues till they die. Is that what being a reformed writer would be–“Hello, my name is Jacqui and it’s been ten days since I edited my novel…” I get the shakes thinking of that.

Still I wonder. If I self-pub will anyone read? Will I be among those ‘Indie authors who embarrass the profession’? Yikes–I’m depressing myself.

How do you handle this sort of worry?

More IWSG articles:

Am I good enough? Does it matter?–#IWSG

Fear of Saying Dumb Things Scares Me to Death

#IWSG–The World is Changing–Can I keep up

Will I Find Employment if I’m an Older Job Hunter?


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is  editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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12 thoughts on “#IWSG–My Writing Style Doesn’t Work

  1. Jacqui, You’ve told my life story unless it’s a plot for another novel for you. It’s a great help knowing that I’m not alone -[if it’s true to you!. [A back-story : I was crushed down by a heavy weight British novelist last night. My crime – I used two or three historical connotations while writing a chapter of my historical based novel. Your post will keep me in good stead. Thank you. Arun

    • I love historic novels. I think established authors, agents, publishers, sometimes want to protect what they have rather than nurture the future. I’d take any criticism with a grain of salt (and two grains of aspirin).

      • I love that Jacqui. Thanks for your comforting -motherly assurance. I will somehow share – not sure how – your comment with the heavyweight.

  2. I don’t know enough about your writing style, but I get a vague idea that your style is naturally very masculine. You may have been targeting the wrong audience, although I don’t know that for sure. To me, you sound like the perfect author for novels written for men, like very techy sci-fi, military strategy, or hard core-accurate historicals, etc.

    You might want to, although this is an out-there idea, write under a male pen name. Many of these male readers do not trust female authors to write their favorite niche novels about war and science, nor trust them to get their history right.

    It’s just a thought! Good luck to you finding out a solution to your problem. :)

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