Doing the Unthinkable: Joining IWSG

I never thought I would join Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group. I’m so insecure I was afraid. I still am, but it won’t be the first time I’ve run face-first into my fears. I need support from other writers because I don’t get it at home. There, I’ve said it. I did get support in the beginning, but I’ve taken too long to get published and start bringing in money. I’m not a spring chicken, just chicken.

Those who haven’t met me in person and even some who know me don’t know I’m shy. In any group of people, I’m the one who speaks least. Funny how not speaking makes people think I’m a good listener. I like to listen and most times I do listen, but on occasion I’m daydreaming, usually about writing.

In school, I never said anything unless I was called on. There was never a question about asking a question. I was afraid other kids would think I was stupid. I learned to speak and sing in public because of practice in church, in school choir, and later, the military. I actually enjoy teaching now, and I was hired at a laboratory that needed a peacemaker because I get along with others who aren’t easy to get along with. But none of my success at overcoming (more like masking) my natural shyness in person translates to writing. I’ve been rewriting the same book for six years. In the process, it became three separate books, two in a series and one standalone.

I have finished around twenty stories and poems, most of them short. The picture below is one of my biggest successes to date, winning first place in a short story contest at Emerald Coast Writers’ Conference in 2010. I’m wearing the tan sweater. The Good Hare Day is on my website and theirs. My other contest win was a poem prequel for my book that I wrote for Rachael Harrie’s Platform Building Campaign. I have a long way to go for someone who waited until age fifty to decide to write.

I learned about Alex’s Insecure Writers Support Group over two years ago but was too insecure to join it–to the point of fearful. One obstacle was thinking I didn’t want an agent or publisher to know I was insecure about writing, let alone shy about promoting. Since then, I started a twitter account and found I could do a whole lot of promotion online that I would have a hard time doing in person. And I’m  coming to terms with the fact that by the time I’m done editing my book from third to first person, I won’t want to wait long enough to find an agent and go the traditional publishing route. So there go my excuses except for fear. That one remains. Fear is the core of shy people like me. But I won’t let it hold me back.

Next time I post for the IWSG, I’ll say what I did to find other writing support and give credit where credit is due. I owe a lot to some very supportive writers. I hope to meet a lot more of you now. Thanks!

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. Hi Sher πŸ™‚

    Just popping by from the IWSG.

    I’m so sorry that you don’t feel you have any support at home, that’s very sad πŸ™ I’m not sure I would be able to continue writing if I didn’t have the support of my husband. So I admire you for continuing πŸ™‚

    And good for you, for deciding to start writing later in life!!!!! πŸ™‚

    You sound like a lovely lady, don’t let people get you down, chin up, keep going, and never give up! πŸ™‚

    Take care


    • Thanks, Vikki. “Never give up” is my favorite movie line. I’m more independent than in the past, but mainly I’ve changed my interdependence. I hope supporting other writers gets me enough support in return, and except for the times I’ve agonized while waiting for replies to my outreach efforts, I think it has.

  2. I had to laugh (in a good way) and you being too insecure to join IWSG. I think you’ll fit in just fine πŸ™‚


  3. Loved this post Sheryl. I had no idea, but I hear you and feel the same way. I keep putting myself out there but would rather hide behind the keyboard and screen. I’ve done online pitches to agents and editors and for me this is the only way to go. And I too waited until what I think is too late in life to start but here we are so let go! Suzanne

    • That’s good to know, Suzanne. It’s a good thing I’ve gotten brave enough not to put up with anything making me quit, even when I feel like it. I figure I’m too old to waste time feeling sorry for myself so I put my efforts into finding the support I need. You’re a great supporter, so thanks!

  4. Greetings,

    I think writing in spite of lack of support shows a solid commitment to your goal. My best friend in the world is a shy woman in a male dominated field. She has shared with me what it is like to be so painfully shy – she also taught me that with the support of friends is can be easier to believe in yourself.

    I’ve never even entered a writing contest so I’m super impressed that you entered and went on to win. That’s something to be proud of.

    Keep writing and Keep trying – You’re not a spring chicken sure – but maybe you are a summer hen. Your moment to shine will come πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, MAJK. If I had seen your name on your blog I would use it, but maybe next time. Believe me, I’m not going to quit. I just hope I get my book published before I become a tough old bird.

  5. Don’t worry about being too insecure to join the group. It just means you’ll have lots to post about every first Wednesday.

    I also waited a long time before I began writing, mostly because I spent much of my life hating to write. But once I discovered that writing fiction is fun there was no going back. I still hate writing techinical reports for work, however. *Shudders*

    • Thanks, Ken. You’ll be in my next post, but beyond that, I hope you’re right. I think I told you I was the same way about not liking to write. Even a fictional SF story for school didn’t make me like writing. Funny how having a choice about writing something made such a big difference.

  6. Never too insecure for this group! Thanks for joining us.
    Congratulations on those contest wins.
    I’m naturally shy and don’t do well in front of other people. But through two book releases, I discovered I can do most of my promoting online and still survive. You can as well!

    • That’s good to hear, Alex. I forgot to mention in my comment on your blog that I write SF like yours, not hard SF. And now Anne R. Allen has confirmed your skill made your blog so relatable it’s famous. Woot!

  7. I’m glad you joined. It’s very therapeutic. Don’t be afraid. We are here to support you.

  8. There’s nothing wrong with being shy. =)
    I hope you continue to find support for your writing through other sources, like your blog.

    • Thanks, Cynthia. Now that I know shyness is genetic, mostly in females, I’m not ashamed of it, just irritated when I lose the battle to say something in a crowd. Lucky for me, that doesn’t happen when I’m the designated speaker.

  9. This is a great group of supportive writers. Facing our insecurities only make us stronger. I don’t regret joining this group and actually look forward to it every month. Glad you joined the IWSG and that you get out of it just as much as I have since it started.

    • Hey, Siv, it’s good to hear from you again and thanks! Maybe by next month I’ll look forward to posting when I get more used to the idea of revealing my insecurities.

  10. It’s great that you’ve gotten brave enough to join the group. Congrats on the first place for your PB! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Lexa. Not sure about the brave part though. I felt it was too much to be coincidence that all the blogs I went to visit on August 1st had IWSG posts. And since my new blog partner needed a couple more days to get his post ready, I did something for him I wouldn’t have done for me alone.

  11. Welcome to the group Sher, and congrats on your success so far.

    I used to be painfully shy. I still am, really. I’ve just gotten very good at faking it. Part of me still wants to curl up and stick my nose in a book when I’m interacting with other people. Part of me still wants to protect my writing, keep it close and secret.

    I still have trouble sharing what my novels are about, despite going through a writer’s course that taught me how to boil my entire novel down to a single sentence, for the express purpose of pitching it.

    Yet, when someone asks me what my book is about, the best I can say is “it’s YA fantasy.” I can’t bring myself to talk about what it’s truly about, because I’m afraid of the response I’ll get.

    We all need a support group and I’m glad I found this one.

    • Thanks, Stephanie, maybe we can fake it together now because what you describe is exactly how I feel. I’m glad I found this group too. Maybe we should practice pitching together.

  12. Hi Sher, I think with all the responses you’ve got so far to this post alone, you should be proud of yourself for taking the plunge! Before I found #Writemotivation and IWSG I started trying to connect (with anyone who would respond!) on Twitter, trying to enter contests, find blogs I could comment on about the writing craft and publishing – any way I could make contact because writing – especially while I’m also job-hunting – has been a very solitude exercise for me. I’ve been so hungry for other writers to bounce ideas off, but I’m also a very shy person in certain situations (others, not so much!). Keep up with the blog hopping and posting, but remember to make time for your writing, too. Everyone has a right to write – and share their writing – and congrats on your first place win in the contest!

  13. Woohoo! You did it!!! πŸ˜€
    Welcome aboard. (Feels good, doesn’t it?)

    IWSG #179 (At least until Alex culls the list again. :P)

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