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It's healthy to be able to critique our work honestly, but if we lack confidence completely maybe then it's not so healthy.
Have you (Niteowl, Mitch) received critiques? Have you found a group/mirror to shine your stuff into and get some feedback? Would that help you see where you stand?
If I were to reword those questions, what I would really ask is this: is your fear founded in reality? If so, you can do something: study the craft and improve your work. If the fear is founded in something else you can also do something: take the steps needed (therapy, voodoo, mountain climbing--whatever works for you) to improve your outlook.
One doesn't have to live in the fear that one's beloved work isn't good enough. My two cents on the subject.
I suggest taking Jim's advice: find the works of authors you admire, and retype their chapters/stories/whatever. And listen with your writer's ear. We absorb style and writing tastes from what we read and which resonates with us; by retyping and internalizing, it's a more immersive form of reading.
It's what I'm doing to relearn all that I lost (and learn more on top of that). Helps confidence too.
It's also a good warm-up into 250 words per day.
And yes, it helps you be a better typer. (If you like, you can also find typing lessons and take those. It will help you feel less frustrated in all walks of writing later.)
Last edited by Ava Jarvis; 08-30-2007 at 05:25 AM.
Last edited by Ken Schneider; 09-03-2007 at 05:03 PM.
J.D. Salinger told The New York Times in 1974. "Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure."
My favorite warm-up is this new collaborative novel-writing site I just found, where they gather a bunch of writers to work on a single project (which the company publishes once the given book is finished).
There's an extensive outline for each project, broken down page-by-page, so it's not just willy-nilly exquisite corpse-style writing. They give you a synopsis for a given page and then four or five writers try their hand at writing 800-1000 words to flesh out that synopsis. The pages are rated and the best one winds up in the published book (with some editing on the back-end to make it all work together). A few of my MFA buddies are doing it too, so sometimes we play games with each other -- like, extra points for whoever can include the weirdest sandwich in their given page.
It's a young site, but it's been by far my most helpful "throat-clearing" warm up to do in the mornings before I get to my own personal work -- especially because there's a deadline and people are waiting for my work. Gets the cobwebs out and then I can dive in. Plus, it's another low-stress shot at publication. I love it.
In addition to this, I am also percieved as a walking dictionary. Lately I've started saying what my mom always told me as a kid, "Oh, go look it up yourself."You are now the foremost authority on the English language. At least, this is what all your friends/relatives who do not write will assume, and they will treat you like their personal diction consultant. While you are at work, you will receive phone calls from Florida, where your aunt wants to know about a comma she's considering for the church bulletin.
How peculiar. I love being dictionary-man.
I has a beard.
I got involved with this pretty early, but I will check to see if they're looking for new writers.
Last edited by NemoBook; 09-09-2007 at 01:29 AM.
I've been alpha testing for these guys for a few months, and it's a nice way to get the literary juices flowing in the morning. I'm not sure what they're looking for now, but I've made some extra $$ and been able to mess around with lots of genres (literary fiction, but also mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, childrens, etc.). Totally worth it. There's info on the site, but PM me if you have any questions.
I finished a writing my WIP. I've been pretty proud of this particular WIP and eagerly crawled into reading the first few chapters. I couldn't edit it. I read it, but I just couldn't get to "fixing" it.
Instead of thinking it would make Stephen King jealous, I wasn't sure who the audience was. I couldn't tell if there was a reason for reading it, or whether the book showed any value. It was either the best story I've ever written or the worst. I teetered on the brink of deleting it.
I knew the book was rough to the point of being raw. I knew some people would find it offensive. But I couldn't tell if what I had done was unique or crap.
I asked two trusted betas to read it. One thought it brilliant. The other couldn't finish five pages. To break the tie, I burned my mystery beta and asked her to read some pages. Her comments were more of the "I'd finish it, but only to find out why the guy was killing people."
Ever have one of these weeks? I see the book completely different from all the others and even I can't tell if it is my best work to date or some bird cage liner ready for publication through Dorrance.
Give it three months in your desk drawer while you write something else.
Since I'm still fairly new here this suggestion might seem completely crazy, but...
Why don't we have an Uncle Jim forum rather than a thread? 256 pages of thread is a little much.
Am I nuts? I don't think I'm nuts.