IWSG: Writing Regrets

Logo for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Picture of a lighthouse with text reading "THE INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT 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!


The awesome co-hosts for the January 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!
My good news for the month is that the story I sold to Tales to Terrify is finally available in the latest episode (Episode 518, for people who are reading this uhm… later than this week.)
I’m probably biased, but I really do think you should go listen to it right now. It’s okay. I’ll wait. Let me know what you think.
January 5 question – What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?
The first full-length novel-weight, full-page count novel I ever wrote was a mess. Writing it–writing anything that long–was an accomplishment… but it was a mess. I was a beginning writer, and worse than that, I was a beginning discovery writer… so, there was a lot of fixing that needed to be done.
And no. I didn’t have the faintest idea of how to fix it.
That didn’t stop me from trying, though. By golly, I got going and then I kept going. For a long, long time. Years, to be precise. I kept revising it for years.
Don’t get me wrong. I learned a lot, and eventually, I managed to revise it to the point that I was able to submit it and get requests…
But if I were working on that book now, I would have set it aside, and written the next one.
Yup. Write another book, before you start revising this book.
That’s appropriately terrifying.
It seems so obvious, now. Write something new. Get the old thing truly out of your system. Come back to it with fresh eyes.
I think I also get a lot of momentum from knowing that the next thing is waiting for me. It would have given me a better idea of when it was time to stop revising. And it would have given me more confidence in my own abilities. (Of course, there’s another book after this one.)
My other big regret–and this might actually be the thing that led into the first one–is that I let myself get isolated from other writers. There was no one around to compare notes with, and I didn’t ask for help until I was deeply, deeply embedded in the project.
I really don’t know what would have happened, if I had done those two things. Maybe there’s always one truly horrific revision at the beginning. Maybe it would have sped up my career by years. I don’t know. Maybe would never have switched to writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and my entire career would be on a completely different track headed in a different direction.
Did I get over it? I don’t know… but I learned from it. I am doing things differently, now.


  1. Reply

    Congrats on your story!

    I’ve also been revising for years. I’m trying to find and learn a system for revision that works for me. I’m currently working through Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel class (which I think I learned about from you earlier this year), and it’s helpful but sloooowwwww. I wish there were a magic series of hoops I could jump through that would result in a good, solid revision.

    • Reply

      LOL. Holly’s Revise took me forever to get through the first time, too. BUT it gave me the structure I needed to get out of the endless loop of revising, and then not being happy with the result, and it does get faster once you start customizing it to your own process. The forums help a lot, too, since you wind up getting Holly’s process, and all of the variants people have worked out over the years. (I can tell you Holly is waaaay more linear than I am in her first drafts.)

  2. Reply

    Congrats on your story being released. And I also had a book a long time ago with lots of mistakes that I revised forever. I finally got to the point where I could take your advice and start something new.

    • Reply

      Who knew letting go of projects could be such a huge milestone! Thank you for stopping by, and for your congratulations.

  3. Loni Townsend


    My first behemoth of a book is still a mess, but I have moved on. Maybe when I finish all the things (ha, like that’ll ever happen), I’ll circle back to it and make it better.

  4. Diane Burton


    Your last thought was great. You learned from it. When we learn from our experiences, we grow, as a writer as well as a person. Excellent advice about starting a new book. Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened to my career if I’d started sooner, esp. in the 1980s when romance was so hot. But then I wouldn’t have learned as much as I have. Good luck.

  5. Reply

    Or maybe it was the path you were supposed to take? I think a lot of writers either over-work or under-work that first attempt. And as you said, isolated is a terrible place to be. We do need the support and help of other writers.

  6. Steven Arellano Rose


    Learning something from our writing mistakes counts for a lot. It’s what helps us to become better writers, and sometimes learning is how we get over them. What’s always most important is the now and to work with it.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: