#IWSG–Am I a Storyteller?

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 inspired by ChemistKen–I can write nonfiction, but can I tell a story? What a great question! I have dozens of non-fiction books published, but can’t seem to get any of my fiction pulled together enough to make the cut. Every time I think I’ve unlocked the mystery and love the way the story is coming out, a re-read disabuses me of that notion. I find as much wrong with my new Perfect Prose as its predecessors.

I’d like to say I need a fresh start. I have three-no, four–novels I’ve been working on for years. One for well over a decade. I still am inspired to write them, but they don’t seem to get any better.

Part of me wants to believe this is just me being a perfectionist. But what if it isn’t? What if I really am NOT a storyteller?

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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56 thoughts on “#IWSG–Am I a Storyteller?

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  6. Thank you for your honesty. I want to believe that I can do anything, but lately I’ve felt a growing concern that maybe I’m not cut out for the fiction world. Possibly the same way a hip hop dancer isn’t suited for ballet. Is it possible that writing talent has it’s own form and muscles, suited for a certain style? I want to believe no, but I’m inclined to think yes. People write for different reasons. I’m no ballet star, but I still like to dance. By writing what you love, you enhance your overall ability in writing, even if what you love to write isn’t successful in terms of publication. Don’t mind me…just thinking out loud here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Probably–more likely–you’re still looking for your voice. Once you find that, it makes a whole lot better level of writing possible. I’m not sure if I know mine or not. It’s a lot harder to do than it sounds.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Since storytelling is involving an audience of listeners, I like to turn the tables on myself and participate by having a text-to-word program read it back to me. I find the mechanical voice gives me a sense of detachment from what’s read. It’s enough to ‘hear’ if what’s being told interests me or not.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll have to try that, Grant. I’ve heard of it, but thought the lack of inflection would be detracting. You think not. It’s pretty easy to test out. What program do you use?


      • Hi Jacqui, The program I use for reading stories is called ‘Natural Reader Free’, which it is. It does come available (in the paid version) with more voices, but the free version works fine for me. Enjoy! Yours, Grant

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I am in a similar place. Keep writing and learning. I have decided I need to learn a few revision tricks. Each mountain I face, I simply get educated and ride over the bumpy tracks of learning this wretched craft. I must write, therefore I must learn.


  8. Sometimes we as writers can be our worst critics when it comes to evaluating the “quality” of our story. I myself am one of them. However I truly believe that out of the many stories we’ve written that have yet to be shared is a great story others will find interest in. I too think getting others to read your work is the next step when you reach this point. Thank you for this post🙂


  9. Jacqui, I hope you keep writing since it sounds like you have the passion for it. Some days I love my wip and other days I hate it. I’m going to finish editing it no matter what. Then I’ll finish writing the sequel and go through the whole love/hate thing all over again.

    Blessings on your writing journey ~ Wendy ❀


  10. Jacqui, you said that you’ve been at the same 3 books for 15 years…have you ever tried dropping 2 & just working on one in order to hone in your focus and creative mind a little more? Good luck!🙂 ~Karen~


  11. I believe that everyone is a storyteller. I’m a storyteller too, just trying to find my voice, the voice that FITS. That, for me, seems to be the hardest part. Just do what I do and keep going, keep getting feedback on your work, and find a writer’s group that you’re comfortable with. That’s what I’m trying to do now.

    Glad my quotes helped a little.🙂 I always love co-hosting! Have a great night! Eva


  12. As someone who’s struggled with plot and rewritten drawer manuscripts, I know anything is possible. Just keep at it and get feedback. Also, it’s hard work, but rewrite or use bits and pieces you like in old manuscripts for new ones.


  13. Writing fiction means uncertainty🙂 For me taking sometimes long breaks from novels gives me a better sense of them when I come back. Of course I still struggle most days for at least a few seconds with the nagging doubts–will anyone care? Will people want to know my characters? Why am I doing this when we’re all going to die anyway?–those sorts of things, But I’ve learned to just give myself a moment then get going.

    While I think a fresh set of eyes can be useful, I worry that sometimes advice gets one off track–it did for me a few times so I’m very careful about who I share with. The best “fresh eyes” sometimes are your own after a break.

    All the best,


    • Good points, Adrienne. I had similar experiences. A clue is when people in my critique group start with, ‘This isn’t my genre…’ I pretty much stop listening at that point because each genre requires such a different approach.


      • LOL. I always found myself in writer’s groups where everyone was a poet. You read my book so you know the part where John has to kill the puppies–I read it and the poets avoided me after that!


  14. Non-fiction is much easier to write and place on the market, I agree – perhaps because the very issue written about has a “ready” target audience (?). Fiction is a different “kettle of fish” altogether and I think you one needs an “independent” eye or two to read the manuscript and see how it pans out in their minds


  15. Does it help at all that the closest I`ve come to writing non-fiction was a job manual and I had a team of six others to help.

    Be stubborn and you`ll do it. And a suggestion leave the reread long enough so you`ve forgotten what you intended to write. Maybe there are some magic beans you`ve been throwing away.

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette


  16. Glad I was able to be your inspiration for this post.🙂 I started out by writing research reports, so the switch to fiction was hard for me. Every time I thought I had a handle on how to accomplish something in a story, I’d come back later and realized I still didn’t know what I was doing. It’s getting better now and I can see the difference, but I wandered around in the dark for years.


  17. Jacqui, YOU ARE A STORY TELLER! Roxy Moreau may have hit on a great solution for you – and I think Casey had a terrific idea as well. It’s always the beginning that’s the crusher or the contract clincher. I believe in you and you must as well. Do not give up!


  18. I agree with the first two ladies. I wonder if you’re not stuck because you’ve been into them too long and (we do get sick and are tired of them. Sometimes the trick is a different POV.
    I’m sure you will find the fix.🙂


  19. I am new to writing and have only written fiction. Non-fiction seemed more like reporting to me. I write stories about things I’m familiar with. The writers I know all told me to write about things you know. Somebody who or something that was influential in your life is a good place to start. Funny people or things interacting. I usually pull my characters and scenes from real people I’ve met and real places I’ve lived in. You know, your own back yard sort of stuff. Hope this helps. Fiction is fun!- Grant


  20. I don’t have much experience with non-fiction, but I’m wondering: do you think you’re doubting your fiction because it’s coming completely from you and not from any sort of real life experience? I think we all worry if our ideas are any good. I’d say if you think you have a good story, then trust your gut and just write it. If it isn’t perfect, there’s always editing.

    Sarah Foster
    August IWSG Co-host


  21. Have you tried speaking to a developmental editor to see if they can offer any advice to help you? It could be that you just need a set of outside eyes to help you pull the puzzle pieces together.

    Non-fiction is very different to fiction, but it can be done (I do both :)). Don’t give up, you just need to get to the heart of the issue and then you can find the solution.


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