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Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Fragile Ego

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The writer’s ego is an interesting thing.  We are literally gods to do as we please to our world and our characters [see: The episode of Friends where Joey was dropped down an elevator shaft for disgruntling a Writer.], and we can write you out as fast as we wrote you in, no matter how much our readers may love you.

But the writer’s ego is a fragile thing too. It’s a bubble that’s made of sugar glass and the least bit of pressure it pops and sends us into a spiral.  It takes time to trust in that spun gossamer webbing that surrounds us.  For me, it’s taken a lifetime.

This past week I’ve stumbled onto one of my ego poppers, and now I’m having to learn to ignore it.   Write this into the column of what NOT to say to a writer, new or experienced. “You’re so lucky you can write.”  “I wish I could write too.”  “I’ve given up on being able to do that too.”

Those three sentences, and other variations on that theme, are manipulators.  You may very well be jealous of someone who’s able to push out the wordage.  God knows I am, and I’ve been guilty of saying such things to other writer friends. [I hereby apologize. Sincerely.]  But those type of phrases are guilt makers, at least to me.  Deep down inside, I’m a facilitator.  I want you to be able to do what you love too and if I can help, I will.  But these phrases make me feel guilty that I’m doing something you can’t.  These phrases serve to put me back into the closet of writer’s block, out of fear I will hurt your ego by expressing mine.  The roots of this tendency of mine extend way back into childhood and others trying to be helpful in encouraging things I could do, away from things they didn’t believe I could manage.  I’m learning to shake free of those shackles, but phrases like this, gentle reader, make me cringe.

So jealous though you may be of someone stretching out their wings and crowing over writing being done, encourage, and let their success be encouragement to you too.  Writing is 90% determination, 10% talent.  Cliche, because it’s true. Harness your determination and then we’ll be jealous of you.

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Watching Jules & Julia again and it reminded me I had started a blog *cough* weeks ago and haven’t updated since.

Other than making me hungry and reminding myself that I’m a horrible cook, I love this movie because I consider it a writing movie.  The character Jules has to face some of her own personal demons as she writes her blog and that is something I’m all too familiar with, writing demons.

Recently I found me a shield to protect myself from those demons, in the form of a book.  I picked up “Around the Writer’s Block” by Rosanne Bane as an impulse buy at my favorite bookstore.  Then when my free time exploded due to lack of work a month or so later, I picked it back up to read again.  Like most writers, I have a round dozen books on writing [ Jason Ridler is not a normal writer, therefore he has several dozens], but this one resonated with me because she used cognitive research and therapy techniques in her advice on how to deal with your own personal block.

A lot of mine centers around this one little thought:  My friends don’t even want to read my stuff, so why bother?

That right there froze five years of writing potential out of me.  Five years I’ll never get back.

I had gotten used to instant feedback from the fanfic community.  You posted it, they didn’t care if it wasn’t exactly publishable or that it had plot holes and more typos than a third grade essay, it was something about characters they already loved and they also loved to tell you about it.  When I switched to writing my own fiction, all those comments dried up.

So now my intent is to rely on just my First Reader.  She’s already read the first chapter of my new novel and has given her approval to keep going.  And she likes my title!  [Titles are harder than endings for me, I swear.]  And here’s the kicker: No one else is allowed to read it until I finish.   And damned if I’m not just, well if not flying along, I’m faster than not writing at all!

Not every writer has the same process, and not everything that works for me will work for you. That’s why there’s so many writing books out there, and why people keep writing more.  What works for you is what works for you, and may work for someone else. But if you really want to write, and you can’t stop thinking of stories to write, you WILL find a way.  Never stop trying, never give up.