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View Full Version : When you write to compete with published authors. Is that good motivation?



BlueLucario
05-02-2008, 08:54 PM
I do have an author in mind that I want to beat. Maybe two. Anyways, those best selling authors out there, I want to match them. I want my talents and skills to level with theirs. But that's the idea that just motivated me into writing the book. I'm going to beat this one author, and not for the money. Would that make a good motivation? Even if the chances of making the best selling list are the same as winning the lottery.

Sorry for posting. I just had something to say.

Storm Dream
05-02-2008, 09:06 PM
No.

I don't think there's anything wrong with one day hoping your skills are equal to a particular author. But setting out to right just so you can pass them? I dunno -- that sounds almost like writing just for the money to me.

Isn't writing the book motivation enough? Getting the story out of your head and onto paper?

Well, whatever works for you, I guess. I don't quite feel it, though.

BlueLucario
05-02-2008, 09:10 PM
Not always. Because I've heard excuses around here like "I don't have time to write."(worst ever.)

ishtar'sgate
05-02-2008, 09:19 PM
Sure, wanting to be a better writer than your favorite author or make a lot of money are good motivators. But they don't mean a whole lot when you sit down to do the actual writing. If you don't love your story, aren't engrossed in your characters and plot, your writing will stink. Fame and money cannot be the sole motivators. Writing is hard work and you have to be motivated by a love of words and storytelling in order to attain any kind of success.
Linnea

maestrowork
05-02-2008, 09:25 PM
That's what inspired me at first, but then I found out, no, it really isn't a good motivation.

Blue, stop trying to imitate or beat best-selling authors. Write you story the BlueLucario's way.

BlueLucario
05-02-2008, 09:26 PM
That's what inspired me at first, but then I found out, no, it really isn't a good motivation.

Blue, stop trying to imitate or beat best-selling authors. Write you story the BlueLucario's way.

I am, just pushing my limits. :) No imitating.

Shadow_Ferret
05-02-2008, 09:30 PM
I try to beat myself.

Um. I mean I write to beat myself.

Hmm.

My motivation is to write better than I did the day before.

mscelina
05-02-2008, 09:34 PM
there is no way to 'beat' a best-selling author. "beat" implies a contest--what kind of contest is it? To write better than them? Readers are subjective. To write more than them? How can you tell how much they've written? To make more money than them? After a certain point, who cares? If you "beat" them on one level, they "beat" you on another.

*shrug*

I realize that you are very young, so I'm going to try this one more time Blue. Just frigging write. It doesn't matter WHY you write--but, in the long run if you're not writing for the sheer joy of writing you won't last as a writer.

Your motivation for writing should be simple: I write because I HAVE to write.

Anything else is bunk, and the establishment of an excuse for when you quit. "I quit writing because I'll never 'beat' J.K. Rowling."

Hop to it.

CaroGirl
05-02-2008, 09:35 PM
I disagree that "I don't have time to write" is the worst excuse ever. I can think of lots of excuses worse than that, while I go to my full-time job, take care of my two school-age kids and a couple of dogs (for now, anyway) and maintain a house and garden, all while my husband travels intermittently for work.

However, "I don't have time" means that I don't write as much or as quickly as I'd like. It doesn't mean I don't write at all.

I envy great writers whose work occasionally looks so darn effortless. Of course I'd love to write as well as them, but I know I won't write LIKE them. I can only write like me.

maestrowork
05-02-2008, 09:38 PM
Oh, I try not to compare myself with other writers either, including best-sellers. All my life I've been subjected to comparisons (so and so is a better student.... so and so has better grades... so and so is an engineer at Boeing...) and I did the same thing to myself. I'm trying very hard not to compare. I'm my own person and I write to my own tune, thank you very much.

mscelina
05-02-2008, 09:40 PM
Ray writes to his own tune; I write to my own karaoke. *shrug* It all works in the end.

stormie
05-02-2008, 09:43 PM
Sorry for posting. I just had something to say.
You don't have to apologize for posting. You have every right to start a thread.


Because I've heard excuses around here like "I don't have time to write."
I dunno. I've been here at AW even before Feb. '05. I don't really remember anyone saying they didn't have time to write. A person might ask "How do you find the time to write," or try to get ideas of how to fit it in their day. (Then again, I do miss out on certain posts somehow....)

I think what it comes down to, blue, is that you want to write a really great book, a book that people will say is better than *****. Maybe you will. Just write and keep writing and don't give up.

Phaeal
05-03-2008, 12:06 AM
How would you decide you'd beaten them? Made more money? Spent more time on the NY Times Bestsellers list? Won more prizes? Had more fanficcers? Sight of your new book caused a greater production of saliva in lab subjects?

I have problems with the "gotta beat 'em" mindset. Part of it is the Objectivist in me. When you're obsessed with outdoing others, you are letting them dictate the terms of your life. Bad, bad, bad.

A bestselling author whose work I don't like means nothing to me. A writer whose work I love, bestselling or not, that's someone I want to emulate, not to beat. That's someone I'd have for a colleague and fellow traveller, not a defeated rival.

DWSTXS
05-03-2008, 12:16 AM
Not always. Because I've heard excuses around here like "I don't have time to write."(worst ever.)

Blue, the 'excuse' that someone may not have time to write may, in fact, be very true, and very valid for that person.
What if a single mother (or father) wants very much to write, and they try, but because they are working 2 jobs to take care of their family, they literally do not have time? That there are literally not enough minutes in the day for them to have the luxury to sit down and write. I seriously bet that I have more writing time available to me that almost any single working parent, and also more than any stay at home parent, because that IS a tough job.
So, that "I don't have time to write' reason doesn't make them lazy, and it doesn't make their reason an 'excuse'.

This is why a lot of people on AW keep telling YOU to just WRITE. One of these days you will be out there in the work force, making a living, and you will sorely regret every wasted minute now.

I think the 'worst ever' excuse for not writing, is just NOT writing.

rugcat
05-03-2008, 01:05 AM
That's what inspired me at first, but then I found out, no, it really isn't a good motivation.I was motivated in part by some awful books I read. I thought, maybe I'll never be as good as so and so, but I know for a fact I can write something better than this drivel.

Not the most noble of motivations, I admit.

Also, I couldn't find the exact type of book I wanted to read, so I tried to write it.

BlueLucario
05-03-2008, 01:14 AM
However, "I don't have time" means that I don't write as much or as quickly as I'd like. It doesn't mean I don't write at all.

.

I could be wrong on that.

You know, maybe it's not a good idea. :(

Melenka
05-03-2008, 02:37 AM
I was motivated in part by some awful books I read. I thought, maybe I'll never be as good as so and so, but I know for a fact I can write something better than this drivel.

I'll cop to that, though it was more like "if THIS can get published, there's hope for me yet." We'll see if that's true. I guess I don't see it so much as competition as motivation to write a better book than the one I just read.

I agree that writing the book you want to read is great motivation. Sometimes, that's all that keeps me going.

akiwiguy
05-03-2008, 05:03 AM
Oh, I try not to compare myself with other writers either, including best-sellers. All my life I've been subjected to comparisons (so and so is a better student.... so and so has better grades... so and so is an engineer at Boeing...) and I did the same thing to myself. I'm trying very hard not to compare. I'm my own person and I write to my own tune, thank you very much.

Absolutely with you on this one Maestro.

To me, "quality" of any arts is almost an abstract concept. And the danger with trying to supercede or even emulate another is that there's a definite kind of line that you're trying to reach in the distance. I see it more that every creative person, at what ever level, has their own unique skills, talents, experiences, what ever. Today we are creating something. Might be crap, might be every good. Either way it has to stand on its own two feet.

Studying and appreciating others is different, that helps us learn. I have no idea, but perhaps Pink Floyd musicians studied Beethoven's music at some point. But did they try to "better him"? No, Beethoven is Beethoven, Pink Floyd is Pink Floyd. How could you possibly compare them, yet both brilliant?

maestrowork
05-03-2008, 05:45 AM
That's why I don't enter in writing contests anymore, so I won't subject myself into this whole "who is better than whom" mindset. Besides, pitting one writer against another trying to determine who is better is just rather silly to me.
Then you may ask: what about auditions? What about trying to get published? Aren't you competing with other actors or writers?

To me, that's not really competition as in trying to determine who is a better actor/writer. You're competing for others for a "slot" -- yes, that's true. But in the end, it's all about whether you "fit" or not. Sometimes the "better" person actually loses because he or she doesn't fit what the producer or publisher wants. "Right for the role" gets thrown around in the movie business all the time, and it's true. They're not looking for the "best actor" but the "right" actor for the role. Same with publishing. They're looking for the right manuscript -- a polished, sellable, marketable product.

Cathy C
05-03-2008, 06:02 AM
Sure. Why not? With our first book, we wanted to make it to "such-and-such" place on a bestseller list, because that's what a friend had done with HER first book. We didn't make it. But we did with the THIRD book. Now we compare books shipped and books returned for the friendly competition. :D

See, the thing with writers is there ISN'T competition. Books aren't like soap brands. Readers read what they like, so really---the only competition is with yourself. It's like the lottery. You buy your ticket, sit in front of the television as the balls fwoop into place and allow the excitement to build. Doesn't hurt a thing so long as you don't mind losing. It doesn't harm anyone to shrug, sigh, rip up the ticket and go on with your life. But, to quote one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite poets (bonus rep points for identifying the poet and the poem!) :

"But to fight and to fight, when hope's out of sight
Why, that's the best game of them all!"

Feel free to plot and plan and have your competition as your motivation. It's the best game of them all!

:D

Brutal Mustang
05-03-2008, 06:07 AM
I dunno -- that sounds almost like writing just for the money to me.

And what's wrong with that, if you enjoy it?

JoNightshade
05-03-2008, 06:20 AM
Also, I couldn't find the exact type of book I wanted to read, so I tried to write it.

This is one of my major motivations, aside from the fact that I just love to write. The books I write are the books I would like to read, but haven't found. Often I'll have ideas that I think would be cool, but before I write it I go see if I can find someone else who has already done it. If they have, and if they have done it well, I just buy the book and move on. :)

Anyway, Blue, there's really no such thing as "beating" other writers. That implies that there's some sort of scale. But there's not.

Let's take JK Rowling as a super-successful writer. As far as money and fame, you could say that she has "beaten" everyone.

But does that mean JK Rowling is the best author in the world? Er, no. In fact, I don't like her stuff. I know a lot of people who don't. We like to read other stuff.

It's impossible to beat another writer because there is NO SCALE.

Birol
05-03-2008, 09:07 AM
Would that make a good motivation?

Blue, you seem to spend an awful lot of time looking for reasons to write, and trying to figure out what the best reason to write is. Not how to write, not what to write, although you have done those things to, but why to write.

Let me ask you this, what was that moment when you said, "I want to be a writer." What led you to that place? Why did you, Blue, decide you want to be a writer? Not why anyone else did. Not why do you think they did. Why did YOU decide you wanted to be a writer?

The answer to these questions is the only reason you should write.


I am, just pushing my limits. :) No imitating.

How? Other than talking about pushing your limits or reading about pushing your limits, what have you actually done to push your limits, Blue?

I know this is a harsh question, but it's also an honest one. It's one that you need to really think about, Blue. You need to be honest and truthful with yourself.

What does 'pushing your limits' mean to you?


This is why a lot of people on AW keep telling YOU to just WRITE. One of these days you will be out there in the work force, making a living, and you will sorely regret every wasted minute now.

I think the 'worst ever' excuse for not writing, is just NOT writing.

Amen.

Exir
05-03-2008, 03:51 PM
Amen to all of the above.

As a writer, first and foremost, you have to write because you just like it. No other motivation, just because you like writing, in itself. Okay, sometimes I do fantasize. (My imagination runs away) I imagine my books all over the bookshelves, and the New York Times giving me praise of the superlative degree, and becoming the first teen to win the Newbery Honor, and becoming cover boy for Times, and etc...

But that's it. Some great imaginative fun, but it is never my motivation. When the BIC time comes, and I sit in the chair and face the manuscript, I forget all of that. I write because I love what I write. I don't write to beat anyone in a race. I just write, for fun, for the sheer love of it.

Any energy spent thinking about the motivation to write will subtract from the energy spent writing. So write to write.

If you cannot write without a motivation other than the love of writing, I suggest you drop writing entirely. Harsh, but true.

The fact that you cannot seem to settle on just writing, or at least asking more about how to improve your craft, seems to show that you don't really love writing that much. I may be wrong, but it is time for you to rethink all of this.

Sorry about the harsh words. (And sleep-deprivation, so I may not be too articulate.)

WittyandorIronic
05-03-2008, 04:36 PM
I was motivated in part by some awful books I read. I thought, maybe I'll never be as good as so and so, but I know for a fact I can write something better than this drivel.

Not the most noble of motivations, I admit.

Also, I couldn't find the exact type of book I wanted to read, so I tried to write it.

Quoted for truth!

There were several times that I started writing (again/more/faster/with renewed purpose) because page 1 (which I read in the store) was good, but page 4-350 sucked so bad that I wanted to slap the author. How can you start so well and mess up so badly? As a reader, it is frustrating, lol.

DragonHeart
05-03-2008, 08:52 PM
I've found from personal experience that looking for motivation to write is exactly the same as looking for reasons to not write. It's an avoidance tactic in the guise of productivity. You don't want to write so you spend time searching for a reason that would justify putting the hard work in. I used to do it when I was younger and now that I'm out of school I really do regret not using all that valuable time when I had it.

The bottom line is, if you don't want to write, then don't. No one is forcing you to.

On the other hand, if you have a story to tell, then put the work in and get your words down on the page. Don't worry about the future of your story until after you've written it. If there's no story you can't get it published, so all these discussions will be moot.

It may sound a bit harsh, but that's how reality goes. Write first, worry about everything else after you've written "the end".

~DragonHeart~

Dale Emery
05-03-2008, 11:19 PM
I'm going to beat this one author, and not for the money. Would that make a good motivation?

If it motivates you, it's a fine motivation.

Dale

BlueLucario
05-04-2008, 12:11 AM
I have another idea, and please don't hiss at me for this.

Type with your monitor screen off. It hurts a lot because I feel that I'm killing my story. Oh well, it's supposed to stink the first time right?

scope
05-04-2008, 12:14 AM
Blue, you have to write because you want to write, because it's an essential part of your life, because you cannot go through life without writing, because you want your writing to make a difference, because you hope your writing will be part of your everlasting legacy. Those are but some of the reasons why I write. Of course I want to make lots of money from my writing and hopefully obtain some degree of popularity (most of us do), but I have little control over those things.

I hate to be harsh, but I find all the motivations you describe as lacking valuable meaning. I guess there's nothing wrong in wanting to be better than another in your field, but to use that as your primary motivation sounds like a very bad formula. Do your own thing, why be consumed about others? Let your writing do your speaking for you.

Marian Perera
05-04-2008, 12:33 AM
Type with your monitor screen off.

I'm at a loss as to what this will achieve. I like to be able to see what I'm typing, to know if I've made mistakes and to check that the story flows naturally from one paragraph to another.

If you're typing with the screen off, what if you accidentally move the cursor up a page and then hit the Insert key? You could lose a lot of your work.


It hurts a lot because I feel that I'm killing my story. Oh well, it's supposed to stink the first time right?

Just because a story can be bad the first time doesn't mean you should bend over backwards to make it as bad as possible. There's a difference between "bad is permissible" and "bad should be done".

BlueLucario
05-04-2008, 12:44 AM
I'm at a loss as to what this will achieve. I like to be able to see what I'm typing, to know if I've made mistakes and to check that the story flows naturally from one paragraph to another.

If you're typing with the screen off, what if you accidentally move the cursor up a page and then hit the Insert key? You could lose a lot of your work.

".

Not being concerned about what you're typing, so I don't have to go back and fix everything. Not being concerned about perfection.

Dale Emery
05-04-2008, 12:50 AM
Type with your monitor screen off.

Yeah, that's a common technique for freewriting. For me, just writing by hand is enough to keep me from editing. I'm slowly learning to dump a first draft onscreen without editing.

Dale

Bubastes
05-04-2008, 12:54 AM
I write my first drafts by hand too.

Marian Perera
05-04-2008, 03:09 AM
I write my first drafts by hand too.

I've done that for a few manuscripts too. Great way to write without the temptation to surf the web, and it seems safer to me than turning the screen off. At least there's no chance of losing the first draft.

Birol
05-04-2008, 03:39 AM
I'm at a loss as to what this will achieve. I like to be able to see what I'm typing, to know if I've made mistakes and to check that the story flows naturally from one paragraph to another.

I've heard of others doing this. It's a technique used to turn off the internal editor.

Cathy C
05-04-2008, 05:15 AM
Blue, you have to write because you want to write, because it's an essential part of your life, because you cannot go through life without writing, because you want your writing to make a difference, because you hope your writing will be part of your everlasting legacy.

Hmm... not so much for me. Different strokes for different folks, but to say "YOU HAVE TO" implies that any other reason is somehow less meaningful.

Money is a powerful motivator, and it inspires me to do my absolute best work. I feel no shame that it's why I write. But I really could quit tomorrow and never write again. It's not an essential part of my life at all. :Shrug:

Use whatever motivation inspires you, Blue. What works for you will work. All we can do is suggest options. :)