When You Don’t Know What to Write, Write About Your Insecurities

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I love writing these posts for The Write Practice, and normally, when I sit down to write them, ideas come instantly and unbidden. Today was not one of those days. Today I had no idea what to write.

When I get into these situations, there's a secret trick I use that has a 100 percent success rate. This trick isn't  easy, and it's very uncomfortable, but when you're desperate to write but can't, it always works.

It's not going on Facebook to watch puppy videos or read all the self-congratulating posts (trust me, I've tried that). It's not going on Twitter to be distracted by the endless stream of articles and promotions. It's something much darker.

Ready for the secret?

Write About Your Insecurities

“The only requirement,” to be a writer, said Stephen King, “is the ability to remember every scar.”

The secret is to write about your insecurities, your fears, what you're embarrassed about, the things you wouldn't tell your mother.

When you're stuck, when your characters aren't behaving, when the story isn't flowing, write about what you're afraid of. Put your secrets into your character's mouths. Put your greatest fears into the story.

I love this quote from Batman Begins:

ALFRED

Why bats, Master Wayne?

BRUCE

Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies shared my dread.

To write with passion and energy, don't bury your fears. Use them. (Share that on Twitter?)

Why Does This Work?

“When you run out of ideas,” I tell our contributors, “write about running out of ideas. When you have writer's block, write about what it's like to be blocked.”

Because here's the truth: There are millions of stories happening around you. As of this moment, 64,341 people have died today, 12,543 of those from starvation, a little less than 1,000 from suicide. Can you imagine all of the stories you could be telling? Lack of stories isn't the problem.

We get blocked when we start to reject our own story, when we subconsciously say, “You don't have anything interesting to say. You're not a very good writer. You'll never make it.”

What happens when you write about your insecurities is that you're telling your subconscious, “You know, you're probably right. I am worried I don't have anything interesting to say. But I'm going to write anyway.”

Free yourself from perfectionism and just admit you aren't a great writer. That's fine. All of us feel like that sometimes, even the best of us. After you admit you're insecure, use your insecurities as material, as fuel to drive your writing further.

So What Are Your Insecurities?

Here are mine:

  • I'm afraid I won't get all my writing projects done.
  • I'm afraid when I write my story, no one will want to read it.
  • I'm afraid I'll never make it as a writer.
  • I'm afraid I'll be stuck writing non-fiction, commercial writing all my life and never write any fiction I'm proud of.
  • I'm afraid I won't be taken seriously by the literary establishment.
  • I'm afraid readers will be bored.
  • I'm afraid that after giving all this writing advice, people are going to think I'm a poser and a hack.

Today, I won't let my insecurities stop me from writing.

Today, I will write humbly, vulnerably, realizing my readers are struggling with the same fears.

Today, I reject rejection.

Today, I make peace with myself, proclaiming, “My whole story is valuable, even the worst parts.”

What about you? What are your insecurities?

PRACTICE

First, create a list of your darkest insecurities. You don't have to share these, but write them down and put them somewhere safe. Then, write about a character struggling with those same insecurities. Your character might not be anything like you—the opposite gender, a different age, a thicker beard—but give them similar fears and see how they deal with them.

Write for fifteen minutes. When you're finished post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to leave a few pieces of feedback on the practices of other writers.

Today, may you embrace your story and write with joy!

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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102 Comments

  1. PJ Reece

    Too true… I have come to believe that our failures are far more compelling than our successes. When a friend returns from a journey, we don’t want to know what went right, but what went wrong. There’s a story! I think we get a vicarious thrill from inching close to the edge of the abyss. There’s truth down there. We pretty much know that we delude ourselves with our (exaggerated) successes. The “stuck” situation you describe today, Joe, strikes us as all too human. And to that I say, Cheers.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Ha! Great point, PJ. I love hearing all those miserable stories from my friends’ travels.

      Reply
    • John Fisher

      Hi, PJ! Good to see your writing here, and I agree with all you express. I read Joe’s article yesterday, but was not able to write anything at that time. But I kept working with it mentally, wrote out some of my insecurities for my eyes only, and then was able to write a piece, which I just now posted. This exercise *works*. Greetings and best wishes from down south!

      Reply
  2. Beck Gambill

    I truly like your style of writing and sincerely hope you make it as the writer you want to be. But one thing I know Joe, whether your writerly dreams are fulfilled or not, you’re a decent guy, you care about people, you value what’s good. In the end I think that’s what really matters, that you’ve used the best of who you are for the good of this old world, and I think you will. If that’s through writing so much the better.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Aw thanks Beck. 🙂 I think you’re great, too.

      Reply
  3. Adelaide Shaw

    My biggest insecurity is not about writing. How will I cope
    if I have to live alone? Young people don’t think about this, but at my age
    this is a definite possibility. I hope that my writing will help; I’m sure it
    will, but that will probably not come easily at first.

    Insecurities about writing: no one will buy what I write.
    After years of writing with no financial breakthrough, it would be pleasant to
    say, “Yes, my book is selling.” Patience and more patience. Time will
    tell.

    Adelaide

    Reply
    • John Fisher

      I identify with the biggest insecurity you write of, because I share it. Yes, patience and more patience. I wish you all success.

      “Never, never, never, never, NEVER give up.” ~Winston Churchill

      Reply
      • Adelaide Shaw

        I think my years will run out before my patience.
        Adelaide

        Reply
        • John Fisher

          That being so, you are one lucky person. Patience is a thing I have to keep schooling myself in.

          Reply
    • TrepTiger

      I get that. Those are some of my fears, too.

      Reply
  4. seth_barnes

    Great example of vulnerability and courage there at the end – well done!

    Reply
  5. Elise Martel

    My biggest insecurity may be that when I express myself through writing and pour bits of myself into my character, there is the big chance that people will reject my characters. That almost feels like someone rejects me also.

    Reply
  6. Monica

    Aww! For the record you’ve already made it as a writer, of course people will want to read your story because you’re willing to be vulnerable, we’re ALL doing something to pay the bills (yours is the nonfiction piece–at least you’re still honing your skills) and personally, I’m highly skeptical of the literary establishment so let’s just cross that one off the list!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Yeah, down with the literary “man”! Thanks Monica. I can’t wait to see what happens with your writing in the next year or two.

      Reply
  7. Robert Dunbar

    Intellect. Yes, I’ve got that. More than enough of it. And ever since I first knew I had more of it than most of the kids my age, more than my sisters and more than Mom and Dad, I’ve lived by intellect. That’s the problem.

    What happens when intellect is all you have? You find out it isn’t enough.

    John had maybe half my brains. That didn’t matter, because he had three times my energy. That’s why he owns his carpet business today, and why his house is three times the size of mine. Funny how he still treats me with all the respect I’d earned when I was the second-smartest kid in school. As if my brains mattered more than his drive.

    Eric was smarter than I was. I don’t think he quite figured that out, not even after he went to medical school. I couldn’t have done that. High-school science stretched me; that was my limit. When you value smarts, you get to the place where you see right away that you’re out of your depth. Eric swam along just fine where I dogpaddled for dear life. Now he has a practice and a good income and I work the factory job, and he thinks it’s just the breaks, that his parents could send him to college while mine hadn’t the money, and that’s okay. . . . But that’s not true. No, Mom and Dad hadn’t the money to send me off to school. I didn’t push for it, either. I didn’t think I could stay the straight-A, top-of-the-class honors student in the tussle and grind of a state college. It wasn’t the money. It was the fear.

    Reply
    • Lucy Crabtree

      I like this a lot. I can identify with the narrator’s insecurities, especially with John. You pinpoint the line between “smart” and “street smart” quite well there.

      Reply
      • Robert Dunbar

        Thanks. I hadn’t thought of it that way, so I won’t take credit; but thanks!

        Reply
    • kehwie

      This is really good–how paralyzing fear can be.

      Reply
    • Eliese

      I liked how this story shows that fear can hinder us from doing what we are capable of. Nice job.

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Interesting character you’ve created here, Robert. I wonder where this is going?

      Reply
      • Robert Dunbar

        Thank you. Amazing the grist 15 minutes of writing gives. I appreciate the prompts!

        Reply
    • John Fisher

      Great practice! Looks like you nailed the exercise. Very down-to-earth, and as Joe says, it forms an interesting character who could go just about anywhere in a story!

      Reply
  8. Lucy Crabtree

    I love the thought that our whole stories are valuable — even the ickier parts. Thanks for sharing, and for the reminder to be vulnerable. I know I forget how much other people crave vulnerability. I know I do as a reader.

    Reply
  9. Humberto L. Meza

    Nicely said Joe. I’m always learning from my insecurities. Those are the
    best things you can do as an actor and writer or anything else in life
    for that matter. Thanks a million for sharing this.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Good for you, Humberto. Thanks so much.

      Reply
  10. Guest

    Now I am insecure that I won’t be let back on this site 🙁

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      No chance of that! You’re always welcome.

      Reply
      • John Fisher

        Joe, thanks for this article, it’s something I needed. I read it yesterday, but was not able to write anything at that time, the negative voices were just too loud. But today I listed some of my own insecurities for my eyes only, and then was able to write a piece which I posted just a few minutes ago.

        Thanks for your welcoming and tolerant and inclusive presence.

        Reply
  11. kehwie

    Truthfully, my biggest fear isn’t really about not being as good as other people but rather about not being as good as I want to be. I can’t satisfy myself.

    But when I did the 15 minute writing assignment, this is what came out:

    Amy had spent her whole life in the shadow of her older sister. Everything always seemed to come so easily for Miranda. Miranda was smart, well-liked, successful. Miranda exuded confidence and good humor.

    Miranda was bloody perfect.

    Amy hovered in the background–not as smart, not as popular, not as well-known. She watched her sister’s success and was glad for her. She cheered at Miranda’s tennis matches and listened to Miranda’s debates. And when Miranda graduated from university with honors and moved on to a lucrative career as an engineer, Amy congratulated her sincerely.

    Miranda moved up the career ladder quickly–raises, promotions, new responsibilities. She was the hit of every family get-together.

    Naturally shy, Amy gravitated toward a career that was somewhat behind-the-scenes. She worked from her home as a web designer. She was good at it, although she lacked Miranda’s go-getting ambition. She supposed if she pushed harder, she might be more successful.

    But she couldn’t seem to overcome her fear, so she stayed mostly at the same level.

    But Amy had nurtured a secret dream since childhood. She enjoyed her work, but it was really her dream job. From the time in first grade when Mrs. Hardy chose her to play the part of the Little Red Hen during story time, Amy had loved drama. When she was acting, she didn’t have to be her quiet, shy self–she could be anyone.

    The local theater was holding auditions for its upcoming production. Amy decided to try out, to take that first tiny baby step toward making her dream a reality.

    Then Miranda called to let her know that she’d been chosen to play the lead. Amy felt it like a physical blow.

    She’d never measure up to her older sister.

    Reply
    • Eliese

      I like how you chose one fear, stuck with it, and made a nice story out of it. The reader can’t help but hope that someday Amy will be able to find a way to make her dream come true. You root for her to show off what she can do.

      Reply
      • kehwie

        Thanks! 🙂

        Reply
    • Robert Dunbar

      Very nice hook at the end. It came from nowhere, and it hit harder because you gave no clue it was coming in the set-up. It was something anyone can relate to.

      Reply
      • kehwie

        Thank you! 🙂

        Reply
    • kehwie

      Thank you!

      Reply
    • TrepTiger

      Nice. I like how you dealt with the fears in this

      Reply
      • kehwie

        Thanks. 🙂

        Reply
    • Anne Peterson

      Nice job. I felt the blow Amy was dealt at the end.

      Reply
    • Lauren

      Your post inspired mine. Very relate-able topic. Great job!

      Reply
  12. Eliese

    This is exactly the type of article I have been looking for. I have been feeling very insecure with my writing. This was wonderful and helpful. Thanks Joe!

    Reply
  13. Eliese

    It my the first day as a senior in high school and I am nervous. This is my last first day to make an impression and I want it to be a good one. I look at my reflection one last time. My hair is thick, long and red. My makeup is perfectly placed, and my clothes are
    fashionable.

    “You better get going or you will be late.” My Mom hollers from the other room.

    “Yea I’m going mom.” I yell back. I grab my keys and get in my little green Honda. It is a good car but it has a manual transmission. I am not a bad driver but driving stick makes me uncomfortable. I slowly back out of the driveway, hoping I will make it to school without killing my car, or myself.

    I make it safe and sound, and the day begins. I greet old friends and make some
    new ones. Things look bright when I see that my first lesson is English. I enjoy this subject but I never feel that my work is what it should be, especially with grammar. The day moves on and lunch arrives. I find a table filled with people I know. We laugh and gossip about our summers.

    “Are you done talking already?” Sarah, a brunette girl that I don’t like, asks. “I mean do you ever shut up?”

    A warm blush floods my cheeks and am left speechless.The bell rings and the rest of afternoon is problem free. After school I drive home and only stall my car once.

    “How was your day?” My Mother asks when she gets home from work. She places her keys on the counter with a clunk.

    I unglue my eyes away from my imperfect homework to answer her.

    “It was ok. There were times when I was unsure of myself, and other times I was confident. It was nice to see my fiends again and not so great to see others. I just have to learn to take the bad with the good I guess.”

    My Mom smiles at me.

    Reply
    • Eliese

      This was my more PG version when my other story wouldn’t post.

      Reply
    • Lucy Crabtree

      Interesting. I like how the main character handled herself well at the end, but it made me wonder if the whole story was part of a bigger story about Mom’s insecurities. Was that an intentional twist? Maybe I’m just projecting my own insecurities there! 🙂

      Reply
      • Eliese

        It was kind of a twist. I liked the idea of showing the Mother’s side a bit as I have similar insecurities as both of them. Thanks for your comment 😀

        Reply
  14. John Fisher

    “It is time for our prayer. Today, Mr. Bumfield has requested the privilege of giving a humanist invocation.” Groans are heard from various sources in the room. “Mr. Blumfield.”

    He rose on legs that felt unsteady, and gripped the table with both hands. He looked out at the expressions ranging from friendly interest to boredom to flushed-face hostility, then quickly dropped his eyes to what he had written on the piece of notebook paper that lay before him. He began to read:

    “This is the Good News: As long as people such as we shall live, we shall work for the freeing of the human spirit from prejudice and exclusion, and the fear out of which they grow, to our last breath. We shall do this because we must — because we have faith in this very humanity and wish for it to continue, not merely to perpetuate the existence of our own lives, but for the lives yet to come, for the future yet to be. At the end of a chaotic day of imperious voices howling after our allegiance, to doubt is to be a hero. May we know that we are not alone — ”

    Something hit him in the forehead and bounced off — a moistened ball of paper. The director said loudly, “Who threw that?” Bumfield’s legs twitched with their unfailing, fearful spasticity; he gripped the edge of of the table more tightly and resumed —

    ” . . . in our honest doubt — ” here his voice quavered and almost gave out; he cleared his throat and continued shakily — “and in our reasoned skepticism, and as we stand on the side of humanely principled freedom of belief and freedom of conscience and freedom of action, and as we stand against the forces of fear that would deny some their humanity based on a twisting of the divine Love, many of our brothers and sisters — who may not yet venture so much as to affirm it aloud — do nevertheless hear their own conscience and join and advance quietly with us.” His legs spasmed again, but he was absolutely determined to finish. He spread his feet out further.

    “We will never give in. We shall never surrender. But rather shall we work to hasten the day wherein the unconditional Love that is our native essence has prevailed. So may it be.”

    He collapsed back into his chair, hyperventilating but triumphant.

    Reply
    • PJ Reece

      John! Do you write sermons? Or speeches? That was wonderful. I loved the detail of Bumfield spreading his legs to bolster himself against his insecurities.

      Reply
      • John Fisher

        Thank you sir! Yes I have written speeches, but I make an extremely nervous public speaker when it comes time for delivery. I actually wrote the invocation weeks ago but haven’t asked to share it with the group I attend because I imagine the response would be similar to the one I envision in the piece. Good to express it in this medium. Thanks again!

        Reply
        • PJ Reece

          May I recommend Toastmasters, to overcome the public speaking jitters. There are clubs everywhere. I’m currently the President of the Club in my town. It’s helped me tremendously in the three years since I joined. I now give talks up and down the west coast. I wish I’d joined when I was younger. Writers are always having to pitch ideas to producers and publishers. “Charlie, I coulda been a contender!”

          Reply
          • John Fisher

            …well — I did Toastmasters for a while back in the ’80s, and I didn’t do very well — it was in my work setting at the time, and there was a very competitive and corporate feel to it that I wasn’t comfortable with . . . but it’s as you say, a professional writer has to pitch things. My lack of success probably had to do more with my shortcomings. There is a physical challenge involved for me, and it’s worse when I’m nervous/anxious. But maybe I’ll try again, the clubs are ubiquitous even down here.

            Man thank you thank you THANK you for the line from Waterfront. I found the whole movie on You Tube and I’m watching it now. The girl Edie shows Jerry (Brando) such Kindness. To which he is unaccustomed. Man, that girl’s Eyes! Good for the heart this evenin’.

            Good “talkin'” to ya!

    • Elise Martel

      I was intrigued how you used an almost Dickenesque mannerism of writing. From your choice of name to your selection of words, you caught my interest. You wove your story using some grandiose words, but I didn’t feel that you copied your verbs and adjectives into a thesaurus and picked the longest results. You understood every word you entered.
      My favorite word in your piece, bye the bye, is of course spasticity. All hail spindly legged men who endure expectorate-moistened wads of paper to publicly attest to their convictions.

      Reply
      • John Fisher

        Yes, now that you mention it, Bumfield does sound very Dickensian, though that was not my thought when I chose it — it was an extension of a pejorative that gets thrown around a lot. Sometimes internalized.

        I love using elegant language that would hardly ever show up in the colloquial way of talking. It soars, surprises. It was Bumfield’s shining if terrifying hour.

        Spasticity. I hate that word. But it’s the scientific medical truth. It is, perhaps, necessary to use it. Whether it will lose its sting in time is entirely unclear.

        Your very kind words are very welcome and appreciated, Elise!

        John

        Reply
        • Elise Martel

          In terms of the condition, yes, spasticity is awful. But it sounds like a terrible condition that involves stiffening and jolts of tremors. I like Bumfield all the more for pressing through it.

          Reply
          • John Fisher

            You are right on in your perception of the condition.

            In more anchored moments, I rather like Mr. Bumfield myself.

  15. Christi Emerson

    I have always wanted to be a writer, but I have never finished a story. I even have what I think is a great story idea, but I haven’t finished it. I’m not sure why, but maybe because even though I think it’s a good idea, I don’t think that other people will like it.

    Reply
    • John Fisher

      Why don’t you write it anyway, just for yourself? without even thinking about whether anyone else might like it. Any choice to submit for publication comes later. If you just write for yourself, at least you’re writing. That’s how I try to approach it, but I very much feel the same as you express, that no one else may like it.

      Reply
    • Elise Martel

      I write for myself. A selfish motive, I know. If, while writing, I am able to create something that touches others as well, all the better.
      I do not mean that I disregard the thoughts of others. However, I know that I can never write something to please all of the world. I would rather write something that makes me satisfied and does not affect anyone else than write something that I am unhappy with, yet is widely received and acclaimed.

      Reply
  16. Eliese

    I can’t believe it finally posted!

    Reply
    • Lucy Crabtree

      I had the same problem and ended up accidentally posting three times! Whoops! Ah well, lesson learned. I’m glad yours posted!

      Reply
      • Eliese

        I thought that I was blocked because it was to…evil. Lol. I posted about three times too but it didn’t show up at all until today.

        Reply
  17. Renaissance Project

    My daughter and I surfed the web for beach houses in Jamaica. Well I looked for houses to rent while she looked at all inclusive resorts. We were on the phone and Jim listened as I described the house that rented for $45,000 a month and had 15 staff. Private beach and swimming pool, eight bedrooms and eight baths, snorkel gear . . . we joked, my daughter and me, about it being the house for a movie set or the house where the stars lived while they worked on an upcoming film. “It probably comes with a car and a driver,” my daughter said. “There is certainly a chef to prepare meals. Maybe meals are included. Maybe they’ll go out and buy pot for you.” At $45,000 per month, I thought to myself, certainly an unlimited supply of pot was included.

    “You’re planning a trip?” my husband asked. We are dreaming of a trip, and I am dreaming of a beach house. Then he gave me a one-dollar bill towards my dream vacation. I wrote the date and the words “beach house” along the upper margin above Washington’s face then paper clipped it inside my journal. It’s a first dollar, an investment in one of my dreams, I thought. My husband does not know what I did with the dollar. He only intended to poke fun, to humor my fancy. But for me, it was real. It is real. And my dream of a house lives somewhere in the world on the other side of my waking consciousness. It lives in my heart when my eyes are closed and I am playing on the beach with our babies or walking with my hand in his. I cannot take him on my journeys to other places and visits with friends and family because he doesn’t believe. I worry that I will fail at proving him wrong and while needing to be right I will lose time as the dream slips beyond my grasp and I awaken to the sound of the neighbor’s lawn mower.

    Reply
    • Susan Smith-Grier

      RP, I really like this. Dreams are precious things but don’t ever give up on ’em. Even the ones I had to let go of…I imagine another me on another plane of existence living them out to the fullest!

      Reply
      • Renaissance Project

        Hi Susan and thanks. I agree about dreams and the question or insecurity for me is when and whether dreams can stand on their own against criticism and doubt? Must we guard and protect them like seedlings and sprouts; when are they ready to be shared and with whom? Greta

        Reply
        • Elise Martel

          Dreams do grow. Initially, they are fragile and delicate, easily scorched by the careless comments of others or frozen by our own insecurities. As time progresses and the desire for the dream and the will to fulfill it strengthen, the dream becomes something more easily mentioned, less susceptible to unkind touch.
          A dream could be shared at any time, depending on the recipient of your wishes. There comes a time, however, when it is such a part of you that in order to tell others about yourself, you must also talk about the dream. At that point, if you continue to hold the dream as a secret, it will hurt you more than it will help.

          Reply
          • Renaissance Project

            Thanks Elise for helping me identify a sign and marker. Whenever my dreams have surfaced both at night and in my ordinary conversations with both acquaintances and strangers, they were nearly accomplished. I have yet to experience keeping secrets beyond that point, I have either moved on to something else or seen the objective through to completion.

  18. Lucy Crabtree

    Dark and twisty, with a nice little surprise at the end! I liked it!

    Reply
    • Eliese

      Thanks Lucy! I’m glad you liked it. I was worried it was to dark, so that was good to hear.

      Reply
  19. TrepTiger

    Some of my greatest fears right now are

    I’m afraid that I’m not good enough
    I’m afraid that I’ll just quit when it gets tough
    I’m afraid that I won’t be able to make it as a writer without emotional support
    I’m afraid that I’ll be left alone and lonely

    Another cold morning in Portland, Washington for Mike’s early run. He had a great pace set in spite of the coppery feel in her lungs. His timer told him that, for the third
    week in a row, he had been improving; his inner voice, on the other hand, told him that he could never make it at that pace.

    “Never quit, don’t stop!” he grunted aloud to herself between breaths. With that Mike leaned leaned forward just a little to force himself to increase his pace some more. Mike even made his breathing more deliberate and in a specific cadence with his feet. “Never quit!” determination came charging up through his insides and up his spine. It tingled and felt great.

    At the end of his five mile run the timer showed that he was almost 20 seconds ahead of where he was last week. Mike stood up tall, placed his hands on the back of his head and walked around until he had his breathing under control again. While it felt good to have made that kind of progress four weeks in a row, it was an empty feeling without anyone to share it with.

    In the cold, foggy morning, with the sun just peeking over the horizon, that sense of being alone and the feelings of loneliness hung onto her every fiber like the exhaustion and sweat all over him. While one could be washed away the other could not and would hang onto Mike all day. It would be there in spite of whatever victory or accomplishment that he would have that day.

    The hot water of the shower washed over him, the steam filled his aching lungs. His muscles screamed, lungs felt as if they had been rubbed with sandpaper. “Yer getting better, Mike,” he said it, but, again, the words rang hollow.

    From the outside looking in, it would seem that Mike had the best of it all. Steady work, nice apartment, supportive friends and family; it just didn’t seem right. He had left the military and didn’t have to deal with any of that crap anymore.

    He grabbed his keys and hat on the way to the door. Stopping, he looked back at his empty apartment. He thought about the way he usually woke up. Waking up at any time of the night was always something else. Ripped sheets, smashed lamp, standing in a fighting stance, crouching in a dark corner with a helicopter fading into the night somewhere. “Is this how it’s going to be for the rest of my life?” Mike picked up the garbage bag with another broken lamp and headed out to buy another one. “Maybe I’ll run into a friend or someone.”

    Reply
    • Anne Peterson

      That was powerful. Great descriptions.

      Reply
      • TrepTiger

        Thank you, Miss Anne

        Reply
    • Elise Martel

      You invested a lot of emotion into this piece. Mike’s internal soliloquies are agonizing and real. No forced words here.
      Did you initially write this from a woman’s perspective? Your dialogue/descriptions are definitely masculine in every way, but you have a couple of instances where you wrote her instead of his/him.

      Reply
      • TrepTiger

        I did write this originally from a woman’s perspective, but found that very difficult to see fully. Clearly, my editing skills are, well, you see. Thank you so very much for your kind review that really is encouraging

        Reply
        • Elise Martel

          No worries:) You would have laughed at some of my dialogues. My sister pointed out to me that the tough tattooed guy whose perspective I was trying to wrap my head around probably wouldn’t notice how his girlfriend’s hair shone dark and beautiful like an antique walnut sideboard. Oops.
          I did a bit of research online for how to write in a male’s perspective. It was quite helpful. I came across an article (I can’t remember where) in which the author described the differences between how a man and a woman saw the contents of the trunk of a car.
          Guy: There was a bunch of old fabric, a monkey wrench, 25 drill bits, and a model of a car (specifics of year, make, and model given).
          Girl: There was a lovely dark red damask cloth, delicately hand-croqueted lace, some tools, and a model car.
          The comparison made me laugh while reminding me that our brains are wired a bit differently.

          Reply
  20. Eliese

    Haha. I really liked this, especially the end. I could see what the insecurities are even though you didn’t directly tell the reader. Thanks for going first 🙂

    Reply
  21. Eliese

    I see now the double. I read guest one and didn’t realize it was yours but I really liked it.

    Reply
  22. Anne Peterson

    (I guess one of my biggest fears is also aloneness.)

    It didn’t work tonight. One after another Lisa went to the places still open. She wanted to shake the hand of whoever thought of 24-hour stores. No longer would she have to wrestle with feeling so alone.

    Except it didn’t work. She might be in the presence of others who needed toilet paper, who were just getting off work. Or of course those who had to wait on those people, but alone isn’t the same as lonely.

    You could be lonely in a crowd and Lisa was.

    It had only been a short time ago that she lost this loved one, but she never got a chance to rebound from one loss when another would rear its ugly head.

    She hated death. Hated it with her whole being. The weird thing is her living world was getting smaller. People she knew somehow took steps back. They got tired of the negative.

    Lisa wiped away a runaway tear. The thing is, she totally understood. She was tired of all of it too. But that didn’t stop it.

    And when friends backed away it released that loss button. Oh if she could only disengage it somehow. Then maybe she could live her life like those around her.

    It’s funny. Even losing things seemed to set off that button. The other day she lost a bracelet she loved. She looked everywhere but couldn’t locate it. And the tears she cried seemed about equal to the ones that fell when Steve died.

    She looked around at other people and wondered if they also had lost so many loved ones. Lisa watched as a mother and daughter walked by her house. Feelings of loss washed over her again.

    It wasn’t going to get easier with each new wrinkle that formed. It would be more of the same. Loss after loss.

    Lisa tied on her babooshka. There was a little nip in the air, or maybe it was inside of her. Either way, she didn’t want to get sick.

    There would be no one to bring her soup.

    Reply
    • TrepTiger

      I get it. Nicely done

      Reply
    • Elise Martel

      Even though you do share a lot of backstory in this, because you use lots of short, powerful sentences, it doesn’t seem overwhelming.
      I especially liked the last sentence. Perhaps you should try putting it first, if possible? It is attention grabbing. Either way. And I love the reference to the babooshka. Again, maybe put that at the beginning? It is unusual, so it plays with the reader’s curiosity. Great job:)

      Reply
      • Anne Peterson

        Elise,
        Thanks for reading and for your suggestion. I enjoyed that exercise.

        Reply
  23. Lauren

    I think my biggest insecurity is failure. I’m just getting started in writing and decided to start getting involved in some of these writing exercises. Here’s my first attempt at a 15 minute writing assignment:

    Sarah stared down at yet another job application on her computer. She had been applying to different jobs for the past six months and hadn’t had an interview in probably half that long. Sighing again, she stared up at the ceiling as if asking God for help. Like that was going to work. She had been asking him for help for the past year
    after she lost her job at the ad agency and had to start again in this terrible
    economy. Since then, she had been sending her resume in for each and every
    position that sounded remotely like she could fit the requirements. Every one
    of those so called job hunting experts recommended reaching out to her connections
    and making new ones to help get interviews. However, she couldn’t stomach the
    process. The small talk about people’s personal lives and pretending to be
    interested in anything other than a potential job. Ugh, the whole process made
    her heart start racing and her palms start sweating.

    Not to mention the doubt of does my current network actually like me and think I do a good job? What if I reach out to them and they turn me down? What if…what if…what if? These doubts had been plaguing her ever since she was old enough to apply to jobs. Her first one had been easy to get since one of her professors at school had recommended her for the job. Now, though, she hadn’t spoken to any of her professors in years. She tried to talk to her mom about how to go about picking up her old connections, or how to interview, or how to get a job but her mom always turned every conversation back around to her problems or about her sister’s success. She never had any problem just applying for jobs and interviews. Heck, head hunters even contact her directly and ask her to apply. Sarah wished it was that easy for her. Maybe
    she should suck up her pride and just ask her sister for help. Tomorrow maybe,
    tomorrow would be the day she asked for help and everything would turn around.
    Tomorrow was definitely the day.

    Reply
    • Elise Martel

      I can certainly empathize with the fear and frustration of job applications. However, I think you could rework this to make it more attention grabbing. I can’t speak for most people, but if I opened a book that began with a
      summary of a year of being unemployed, I may not read past the first
      paragraph.
      Having said that, it would be really cool if you began your piece with the last sentence and worked backwards. That way, you emphasize showing conviction to turn things around over starting to tell about fear and rejection and a year of joblessness.

      Reply
      • Lauren

        Thanks!! Really appreciate the feedback!

        Reply
        • Elise Martel

          Any time! Keep writing! That’s the best practice of all.

          Reply
  24. Tracey

    I love it! The Barbie mask representing the ‘perfect woman’ and the way the pyscho forces ‘Mother Duck’ to confess her fears is a wonderful twist on the writing prompt. The end is jarring but perfect.

    Reply
    • Eliese

      Yay! Thank you! I am so glad you liked it 🙂

      Reply
  25. Tracey

    Here is my attempt at the writing exercise. Maybe I shouldn’t have written this before going to bed. Not conducive to good dreaming.

    She did not know where she was. She tried to look into the gloom, but she could see nothing beyond the dim light in which she huddled. The area felt vast. Vast and cold. She shivered as she tried to make herself smaller. She tucked tighter into a ball covering her hears with her hands, but she could not block the voices. They circled her, taunting her. The voices whispered, yelled, and shrieked.

    “Can’t you be good at anything?”

    “You’re a failure!”

    “Can’t you finish anything?”

    Another voice sing songed, “Loser, loser, loser!”

    She screamed trying to get them to stop. “Go away! Leave me alone!”

    “Loser, loser…” the childish voice sang.

    Another hissed “You will be alone. No one likes you. You have no friends. No friends!” it cackled merrily.

    “Loser, loser..” Laughter and cackling filled the air. They were laughing at her.

    “Leave me alone!” she screamed. Sobs shook her body.

    “Alone is what you will be! Alone always alone!”

    She clung desperately to the hope that it was a dream. This could not be happening to her. It was always a dream. She would wake up. Any minute now. She chanted, “This is a dream. This is a dream.”

    Razor sharp nails sliced across her arm. “This isn’t a dream, honey.”

    Tiny hands pulled at her clothing, pinching her skin making small cuts. She made herself open hers eyes and look. Red eyes stared at her from wizened brown faces. They had tiny shrunken bodies. As she watched, one of the creatures raised his bloody fingernails to his mouth and licked them. Her screams filled the air until they trailed off to whimpers and then stopped. The tiny bodies scurried back into the dark away from the pitiful pile of clothes left on ground. Alone.

    Reply
    • Eliese

      I like that you also chose to go darker for this prompt. I could feel the fear of being alone. I am curious she was dreaming, crazy or if the story was supernaturally real. I nice idea to have the creatures taunting her with her insecurities.

      Reply
      • Tracey

        Thank you. I was inspired by your post. I am glad that it made you curious. I like the Kafkaesque uncertainty to whether it is real or not.

        Reply
        • Eliese

          Wow that’s really neat. 🙂

          Reply
    • Elise Martel

      I liked the descriptions and emotions. When I got to the “this isn’t a dream, honey”, I did feel as though it was a little out of place. It didn’t match the taunting tone from before.
      But yes, I pitied poor alone with scratches on her arms and terror for company.

      Reply
  26. Charles Udey

    Gosh, sorry for popping in like this so unexpectedly. In the treasure trove of information that a writing dreamer might discover, I somehow became a subscriber to The Write Practice. I am one of these painfully shy guys who dream about writing more than anything else, although I have written a lot, mostly because of the prompting of my dear Robyn who believes in me much more than I believe in myself. So as I was looking at the newsletter I found this forum. And then I had to wander through my usual maze of confusion with computers and groups, that kind of stuff. So this message is mainly just to test and see if I have got it right and can actually post here. I have read some of the messages and think the writing is really good. I would say that the two instruments I favor the most when it comes to weaving a tale are emotion and description. And the icing on the cake is the wonderful magic of being able to lose yourself in your writing, to become your characters. Please forgive any typing errors. I try to keep a wary eye but I am one of those old dinosaur derelict writers who is still chained to the two finger typing machine, slow and inaccurate as it can be. So thank you all for listening to me and I hope I can share thoughts with you about the wonderful world of writing.

    Reply
    • Elise Martel

      Welcome! Please do write. No one one here is perfect, but it is neat to learn from each other and get stuff out there for feedback. If you wait for perfection, you’ll probably never post, so just start posting.

      Reply
  27. TrepTiger

    Insecurities are manifold, such as people seeing through or not being accepted due to being older.

    Insecurities

    Nicole looked at herself in the hotel mirror. It had been years since she had gone anywhere on her own, much less gone out by herself. This job had her on the road almost weekly, being a road warrior as she called it, gave her the opportunity to do just that. Tonight was going to be her first time going out to a bar by herself in almost 20 years.

    It had been that long since she had done herself up like this, dark eyeshadow, purplish lipstick and nails, black blouse buttoned low, busts up and showing some, stockings, garters, and miniskirt. “Oh, god, I am too old to be dressed like this.” Nicole said to her reflection. She struck a few poses, checked herself out from a variety of angles, smiled, and relaxed. “Oh, but you look damn good, baby,” she had decided.

    A final deep breath and she grabbed her make up, stuffed it into her purse along with her wallet and key card then she stepped boldly, confidently into the hotel hallway. Her body anted to shake apart in nervous quivers. Parts of her mind were screaming things like, “Are you INSANE?!” and “What the hell are you thinking?” With all the poise and confidence a woman could muster Nicole held her head up high, chin level to the ground, and smiled slightly. She smiled because she was also fighting the urge to jump up and down screaming “I’m free! I am going out for the night! I’m FREE!!!” Whatever fears she might have had at that moment, whatever the voices of reason, scoff, might have been trying to yell to her, she was marching to the beat of her own drums that late afternoon.

    Straight through the lounge of the hotel and into the lobby Nicole went. She did see that there were several familiar faces from the scenario development teams she was working with, but no one seemed to recognize her. She also noticed the sudden drop in conversation as she walked past and a few low whistles. Nicole looked back over her
    shoulder, swung her hips just a little more, and smiled at some of the men staring at her. Then she was out the lobby door and into the afternoon sunshine.

    Pausing for a moment to first feel the sun on her face and then to find her car. Well, it was also to listen for any scoffing as the light was brighter out here. Nothing.

    The GPS took her easily to the tiny bar, The In-Between. It was a dive, but a rather quiet one with open pool tables for a tiny tournament on Mondays. The place was mostly empty. There were a few people at the end of the bar, but they were either really into each other or the TV. Nicole just kind of watched the few patrons there drift out one by one.

    “How are you, Sweetheart?” the barkeep hollered over to Nicole in a friendly tone. “What are you drinking?”

    “Um,” the signs behind the bar weren’t very appetizing, “Shiner Bock, please.” She sat at her table sipping her beer happily until the two tables opened up and what looked like the players were there.

    “Damn, this is why I’m here tonight,” she said to herself, got up and walked over to the gal with the clipboard. “Hey, my name is Nicole. Now what’s the cost to play?”

    Once the game began she was having too much fun to even think about being nervous or not making the shots. Legs locked straight, bent over at the hips, long hair falling about her shoulders, and people looking on. Whether they were watching her bent over or her making shots she didn’t care, because, damn, Nicole was out and looking good!

    Later, when she finally got back to the hotel, she flopped back on her bed, smiling ear to ear in complete joy and utter disbelief. Breathing was difficult so she loosened her corset some, that was that ticket. “What a blast,” she laughed to herself. At the end of it all she lost out on the pool, but had been flirted with, got hugs from strangers complete with a few pats on the back end. “I nearly missed out on all of this because I was scared.” and she drifted off to sleep with, for the first time in years, a smile.

    Reply
  28. Jessica Eifert

    My insecurities is that my brain will get in the way. I have an A.D.D. brain that tends to get off track very easily and although I have great writing ideas, I can never finish them. It’s frustrating when I start off really great and then get distracted or can’t figure out how to keep going.

    Reply
  29. Trying Something

    He was iconic in all the ways most were ignored. In minutes he could change the course of a game, he could uplift the spirits around him and he could run like a gazelle. The man never had a problem, not until he retired. It was when he was home on the worn leather couch watching old tapes that he was terrified. He could speak in front of millions and let his words ring, powerful and inspiring without so much as a tremor. He was more afraid of a couch that smelled faintly of mustard and creaked when he lay upon it than an entire string of linesmen.

    The man had been trained to deal with linesmen. They had taught him how to fall so that he would break his neck or bash his head in. He’d learned to trust his helmet, but he didn’t trust his couch. The couch lay dormant in the trophy room coated in a fine layer of finger-like cobwebs that cling to his calloused hands as he brushed them away. But he wasn’t scared of spiders.

    The terror sprung from the feeling of uselessness that came from sitting at home. There were games to be played, products to sell, and beautiful people to meet. He should have been at the gym. What if he lost his motivation? Got out of shape? Was forgotten? The couch was an allegory for retirement. He would become old and lose all the qualities that women found attractive. They would stop asking him to endorse their products. His coach and teammates wouldn’t call on Christmas and he wouldn’t call them. He would become another couch lying dormant in some forgotten basement, the glorious purchase that went out of style.

    Reply
  30. scott brierton

    Being in recovery is easy when you are mentally at the point where you can see and understand how better off you are being clean. When you can see the efforts of your hard work and time well spent, recovery is in the pay off season. You breathe a sigh of relief when you wake up from one of those horrible dreams and realize you are still clean, that you still have 4 and a half years clean, and that nobody can take that away from you. The joy of that feeling will bring tears to your wide open eyes every time.

    But It gets different when you crave. Then recovery is …then you will find yourself semi-consciously playing those bad dreams over in your head while you are awake, flirting with your deepest, most consuming downfall like it was an opponent you might beat this time if you played it right.

    Reply
  31. amola italiana

    here is what i wrote:
    As a writer salma ofcourse has her own fears like any other writer , one day she decided that she must let them go , so she graped a piece of paper and wrote “the thing that I fear the most is myself , what if I don’t have what it takes to be a writer , what if I no one read my writing and what if this dream is just bigger than me or I got bored of it , I want to be a writer that badly but as I live in an Arabic country to write in English I’m afraid that no one will support me in this but if there is one thing that I’m sure of it is that I should not give up , a voice in my head don’t quit no matter what happen never give up someday your dream will come true , Just keep going and keep writing”

    Reply
  32. Joyce Patrice

    The steward in the understairs had looked vaguely perplexed by her antique kiss, but perhaps had barely registered its occurrence. Now, she tipped back her barstool and edged closer to the cash register, extracting from her feathery clutch a thirty-five dollar bill that should cover all the drinks and minor sins of the evening.

    Of all the people she had seen there, only one had made a more than fleeting impression, and she had no idea whether she had made an impact on him. She certainly doubted it. No, it was time to return to the flaccid man awaiting her at home, the moldy bathroom and the vicious cat in their keeping.

    As she swept out of the bar, she couldn’t help remembering the days when her exit would have been at least mildly lamented by the males in the joint. Yes, time had changed her. But if she was not the soft exquisite creature of yesterday, if her life now was reduced to the grim exercises that maintained the semblance of her former shape and the bitter bouts with the bathroom mirror that revealed new and unwelcome surprises on a weekly basis, there was one thing she had gained: inner grit –

    Freida had been a weak thing. Talented, mercurial – but far too easily swayed by others, although never in the direction of unkindness. She did not have particular imaginative empathy; still, kindness was an integral part of her makeup. Was it at last time to crack the brittle shell of her bitterness and discover if there were any other qualities in herself which she might find, appreciate and even begin to nurture.

    Reply
  33. Joyce Patrice

    This was inspired by the sexy story by TrepTiger!

    Reply
  34. Noname

    “Ha ha, look at her clothes.”
    “Why does she wear them?”
    “She’s such a geek.”

    I’ve heard everything they say about me. And every word hurts. What do they gain by being so mean? Do they get off on other people’s tears and pains? Can’t they see I’m human just like them? That I have feelings too?

    I sat alone in the cafeteria. Most people ignore me. I’m okay with that. I’ve come to terms with that long ago. It’s the ones that don’t ignore me that are the problem.

    I heard familiar laughter and then footsteps approaching. I know who it is bit I’m too afraid to look up.

    “Hey geek. Who says you could sit here?”

    I don’t say anything in reply as they snatch away my tray feom my hands and dump them all over the floor.

    “Oops. Guess your going to have to go hungry again.” She laughed and walked away to her group of friends.

    Oh well. Atleast they didn’t dump them on me this time.

    “Hey.” A voice perked up.

    I looked up startled. I didn’t think they would come back to pick on me again so soon.

    It wasn’t them. It was a boy from my science class. I’ve seen him before. He usually hangs out with a group of his own friends and they usually leave me alone. They sometimes like to tease me bit don’t usually do any harm.

    “Why do you let them pick on you like that?” He asked. I cant remember his name. I’m embarrassed. He seem to figure out that I’m shy and held out his hand. “Hi, I’m jack.”

    Reply

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