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butterfly
12-16-2011, 02:58 PM
...because there will be times when you get upset or depressed and think you suck at everything, especially your writing, and will downward spiral into thoughts like "I can't write!" or "I'm not a very nice person" or "who cares anyway?". DON'T GO THERE!

I was feeling a bit bluesy and decided to not take it out on my writing but pulled out some file folders that I keep on inspiration - mag articles, snippets of things to think about, articles I've written that are funny and that I love - and after reading through all these immediately became happy. Just like that - instant happy.

I'm a good writer. I can say that. I'm good. No one can take that away from me. I may not always write great but no one always pitches a great game, do they?

Anyway, I wanted to post this on my blog but not many go there (sad, pathetic plea for blog attention) so I decided to put it here because I don't want you - meaning all of us - to ever think that when we get into a writing slump or relationship slump or find out your kid doesn't really like you or you get bit by the dog, it isn't inclusive. One sucky thing doesn't strengthen your life chain it just snaps one link. All you have to do is replace it. Look at all those you have left (pretend you have labeled them) and remember how great you are at writing, your job, your parenting skills (or your decision to not have kids), relationship skills, cooking, skiing, bungee jumping, animal training, or whatever all else you do in life.

Remember how good you are and when you forget that, at least with your writing, go back and read what you thought was brilliant and remind yourself that you are a good writer. Writing is hard and lonely and liberating and refreshing and we can do it!

Okay...have to leave for work. Have a great day!

Phaeal
12-16-2011, 05:04 PM
I always remember what a great writer I am. Except when I don't. Then I go into the plot bunny hutch and snuggle until one or more bunnies bite me, transmitting the infamous MUSE virus.

Then I go back to work.

heza
12-16-2011, 05:26 PM
You have a hutch for your plot bunnies? I have to get me one of those. Mine just run loose and chew on the furniture.

backslashbaby
12-16-2011, 05:30 PM
Aw, I love your post. It is nice to remember :) I've had a bad cold with a headache that makes me flaky and irritated, but I can read something I wrote that I like, at least :) It's been bugging me that I can't write recently (with the cold). I can read, though!

And hopefully I can make X-mas sweets well, too :D Soon! Hey, if it's chocolate, I'm good, so that's an easy one to list.

Filigree
12-16-2011, 06:02 PM
Another reason I love AW. Thanks for the uplifting post. We all need reminders of why we really write, on the days when rejections pile up and the words won't.

bearilou
12-16-2011, 06:17 PM
Another reason I love AW. Thanks for the uplifting post. We all need reminders of why we really write, on the days when rejections pile up and the words won't.

Indeed!

:Hug2:

LStein
12-16-2011, 09:55 PM
Yup. This was really nice to hear. I do get in moods like that where I feel like my writing sucks and therefore I suck as a person (I know, I know). But, in general, I do think I'm a good writer. I'm going to come back to this when I'm having one of those days.

Jamesaritchie
12-17-2011, 01:53 AM
Good advice, but not something I've ever worried about. I don't think it's my place to say or think I'm a good writer, or a lousy one. I just write. It's up to editors, and then readers, to judge what I write.

The trouble with thinking you're a good writer is that it often isn't true, but thinking it is true can mean you never get to be a really good writer. You have to know you aren't very good before you can really improve.

But as I said, I really don't worry about it because I can't control it. I can't control anything except how much and how often I write, how much and how often I submit, and the effort I put in. I can't control my level of talent, or my inability to recognize a lack of talent. Really bad writers constantly submit stories they believe are good, or the slush piles would be full of bad writing. I can't control what will and won't sell, what does or doesn't please the majority of readers.

I may be a good writer, but if so, it's not because I believe it or don't believe it, it's because what I write is judged favorably by editors and readers.

Most who try writing aren't very good, a great many are, in fact, bad, but even they can control how much and how often they write, how much and how often they submit, and hope that the time will come when editors and readers start loving their work.

I believe in worrying about the things I can control, and not letting the things I can't control bother me one way or the other.

Anyway, good or bad isn't up to me, and my opinion of my own writing just doesn't matter.

butterfly
12-17-2011, 06:22 AM
Thanks, everyone! I'm happy to have been able to cheer you because that makes me feel good!

James, I'm sorry but I disagree. You have to know what kind of writer you are because that is what keeps you going. To depend only on agents and editors to judge your words is nuts. How many agents rejected JK Rowling? Kathryn Stockett? Richard Russo? The reason they persevered was because they believed in themselves.

If I can read a piece that I write and that can make me happy, I'm a good writer. If those who read what I write laugh out loud or cry or ask to see more, I'm a good writer. If fellow posters say they will return to read my words to remind them they are good writers, I'm a good writer.

You sound very proper and play-by-the-rules is written between your lines. Maybe you should have some fun with your writing so it isn't such a chore. Lighten it up. Like what you write. If it doesn't make an impression on you it probably won't make an impression on many others. Sorry but I can't let you make me feel that by being in love with my own words I am doomed - that just isn't cool.

backslashbaby
12-17-2011, 06:23 AM
But James, do you enjoy reading some of your stories and just liking them? That's a nice feeling regardless of the rest of it, imho. At least the story brought a smile to my face, you know?

Jake.C
12-17-2011, 07:24 PM
What are the odds, if I say this to myself, that I'm wrong?

Wayne K
12-17-2011, 07:45 PM
I count on people to remind me when I forget.

Bushrat
12-17-2011, 08:16 PM
That's a great post, thanks :)
I have a rollercoaster relationship with my writing, endlessly circling between "it's all terrible crap, who would want to read this dribble anyway?" and "wow, that idea is dynamite, this will be an absolutely amazing story".
Sometimes I get stuck at the bottom of that cycle. I've created a file folder with positive feedback from editors, my agent, publishers, and readers, and spoonfeed the contents to myself to get unstuck. At the back of my mind, there continues to be the feeling that they must be delusional, but at least I can take on the attitude "hey, it seems to work for them, so what the heck" and move on :D

Mackenzie
12-17-2011, 08:26 PM
All my life I've been told I'm a good writer, but I read other people's work and feel so inadequate. My mantra isn't I'm a good writer; it's more: if I keep trying, keep improving, I will get there.

butterfly
12-18-2011, 01:59 AM
All my life I've been told I'm a good writer, but I read other people's work and feel so inadequate. My mantra isn't I'm a good writer; it's more: if I keep trying, keep improving, I will get there.

In these notes I was going through I found one that said when my novel is ready to send out find the best agent that represents that genre and send in the first five pages. At least if she tells me it sucks I'll hear it from one of the best and can move on from there. She may be the best for one but not for me.

There's power in that statement. How cool is that?

blacbird
12-18-2011, 09:22 AM
I've been trying to avoid that thought. You just ruined my whole day.

caw

D.M.Drake
12-18-2011, 09:47 AM
Thank you for this post! It really makes my... night :)

S. Martin
12-18-2011, 10:34 AM
It is definitely very easy to doubt your talent when there are so many great writers out there. Thanks for the inspirational post.

Susan Littlefield
12-18-2011, 10:48 AM
Very uplifting post. It's always good to believe in yourself. Realism is good too. I agree with James that, in the end, other people decide whether we are good writers. The important thing is to just write and enjoy it. :)

French Maiden
12-18-2011, 01:25 PM
Love, Love, Love this.

I';ve been feeling really down in hte dumps with all the chaos that is my life with 2 small children, birthday parties, hospital appointments, new dog, and now a migraine and the lead up to Christmas.

This has really made my night.
I've always loved to write, and been told I had a gift, but to take what friends and family say seriously has always been hard for me. I guess it all boils down to a confidence and compliment accepting thing.

I am a good writer and when my sons go to bed tonight, I'm going to come back on and continue with chapter 7 of my WIP.

Thanks again.
Maiden xx

Crayonz
12-18-2011, 09:37 PM
This made my insides feel all fuzzy and warm. :)

Thank you.

leahzero
12-18-2011, 11:00 PM
If you don't believe that what you're doing is good, why would you keep doing it? That's not to say you think you're the best, or even as good as you can be. But you have to believe there's something redeeming in your work, or why would you keep at it?

People who say they don't have an opinion on their own work sound like they're trying to reassure themselves that they're detached. They sound defensive. We have to believe in ourselves, at least a little bit, to persevere. Humility does not mean not believing in yourself. Confidence and humility can peacefully coexist.

+1 OP.

KTC
12-19-2011, 05:26 AM
If I start thinking I'm a good writer, I'm doomed. I feel comfortable thinking my writing sucks, thanks.

KTC
12-19-2011, 05:28 AM
If you don't believe that what you're doing is good, why would you keep doing it?


Because you like doing it. That's why.

Why does there have to be a reason for things? It bugs me, the opinions I sometimes hear from other people. I will write until I'm dead...even though I think it sucks shit. Who cares. I love doing it. I don't need a bottom line.

Kitty27
12-19-2011, 05:57 AM
I believe in myself and writing ability 100%. Can't tell me nothing*Kanye voice*

You should always big up yourself. Suffocate others with the force of your unholy arrogance,people. I tell y'all that my fits of egomania are EPIC. Of course,this doesn't mean ignore constructive criticism and sound advice from people who know what they are talking about. You take those two things and use them to make your work even better.

Being positive about your writing means that when you sit down to write,there is to be none of the following:
A) Downing your work and comparing yourself to famous writers
B)Treating your book like a halfwit by comparing it to classic works.
C)Going HAM and giving up on your book because you keep thinking that it isn't good.

When you sit down to work,you should always think of yourself as the next Tolkien or whatever great writer is known in your genre. Hell,you are better!

We all have moments of self-pity,hair pulling,and fits of utter insanity as we try to perfect the query and its demonic kin,the synopsis.

Or is that just me?

The trick is not to make these moments a habit. Keep it pushing with regards to your writing and ability.

veinglory
12-19-2011, 06:56 AM
Sometimes I'm a terrible writer. On those days I don't let myself have a cookie.

Storm Surge
12-19-2011, 05:34 PM
Because you like doing it. That's why.

Why does there have to be a reason for things? It bugs me, the opinions I sometimes hear from other people. I will write until I'm dead...even though I think it sucks shit. Who cares. I love doing it. I don't need a bottom line.

This. This is exactly how I feel.

I don't have to believe in myself; I just have to enjoy doing it.

scarletpeaches
12-19-2011, 05:42 PM
This is why I think Kitty's posts are the shiznit:
I believe in myself and writing ability 100%. Can't tell me nothing*Kanye voice*

You should always big up yourself. Suffocate others with the force of your unholy arrogance,people. I tell y'all that my fits of egomania are EPIC. Of course,this doesn't mean ignore constructive criticism and sound advice from people who know what they are talking about. You take those two things and use them to make your work even better.

Being positive about your writing means that when you sit down to write,there is to be none of the following:
A) Downing your work and comparing yourself to famous writers
B)Treating your book like a halfwit by comparing it to classic works.
C)Going HAM and giving up on your book because you keep thinking that it isn't good.

When you sit down to work,you should always think of yourself as the next Tolkien or whatever great writer is known in your genre. Hell,you are better!

We all have moments of self-pity,hair pulling,and fits of utter insanity as we try to perfect the query and its demonic kin,the synopsis.

Or is that just me?

The trick is not to make these moments a habit. Keep it pushing with regards to your writing and ability.I can't say I've ever doubted my ability to write something worthy of publication.

Have I ever come down on myself, hard? Well...yes.

With specific regard to writing? No.

This is all I've ever wanted to do. The only thing I've ever been much good at.

Self-confidence =/= arrogance.

Of course I believe I'm a good writer. I can back it up with contracts, royalties and readers. That doesn't make me arrogant. It means I set out to do something and achieved it.

PS: You need to quit the KanYe nonsense though. He's an idiot. Sorry, just is. :D

CaroGirl
12-19-2011, 05:59 PM
For me, I don't have to believe I'm a good writer in order to write. I write because I have a story to tell and I LOVE to do it.

The time I have to believe in myself is when I submit. If I didn't think it was good enough to be published, I'd be paralyzed. There's no way I could muster the courage to hit Send or chuck it through the snail-mail slot. I don't have to believe I'm brilliant, I just have to believe I'm good enough.

seun
12-19-2011, 06:37 PM
The first person to read my stuff is...

me.

And if I don't think it's any good, then I'll work on it until I do so. I'm not going to waste anyone's time with something that I don't think is worth reading.

Kado
12-19-2011, 06:47 PM
Yeah, have to say I'm one of the 'believers'. If I didn't believe in my ability to write a good yarn and write it well I don't know why I'd bother. I wouldn't 'enjoy' writing if I thought I sucked at it. But you know, everyone has a different approach to writing.

I do suffer a crisis of confidence just about every day but I somehow manage to get over it.

Shadow_Ferret
12-19-2011, 08:40 PM
Kind of hard to remember something you've never quite believed in the first place.

Silver-Midnight
12-20-2011, 06:52 AM
I don't tell myself I'm a good writer per se. I just try to tell myself that I've improved from where I was before, and that everyday, I probably make a little bit more progress. It won't be perfect; I know that. I also know that I'm not going to write like a lot of my inspiration/"mentor" writers; I'm going to write like me. Can I still use their books as inspiration? Yes, as long as I do not commit copyright infringement obviously. However, does that mean I'm going to be completely 110% like my favorite writers? Of course not.


But if I can keep working and writing, I can get to a place where my writing is good.

Ken
12-20-2011, 07:26 AM
... instead of saying, "I'm a good writer," I think writers would be better off being more specific. "Six months ago I couldn't convey character as much as I can at present." That would still make a writer feel good about themselves and their writing and it'd be backed by concrete facts. By viewing things this way, one also doesn't risk the pitfall James mentioned about seeing no need for further improvement.

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
12-21-2011, 05:38 PM
This thread is fab.

I do OK. I had an English teacher in high school tell me I wrote like Eudora Welty. I loved that man.

Never really did much with it until 2 years ago when I first came here. Now, I see how far I've come in over 2 years. I can look back over something I've written and say, "That's pretty good." Or the last thing I wrote and say, "That's even better."

Not arrogance, but confidence. And when I compare it to some of the stuff I hear in my writers' group or that I see that's been published, I think I'm doing alright.

buz
12-21-2011, 08:29 PM
Hip-Hop-a-potamus.

Your internet name makes me so happy.

I don't think I'm a good writer, but I also don't think I'm a good anything, so it's hard for me to be an accurate judge.

Well, that's not true. I do think I'm better at driving than all the bastards I'm always getting stuck behind. Who drives ten miles an hour below the speed limit and brakes every time the road curves? Douchebags. Douchebags who enjoy driving in front of me for all eternity. I imagine that's what the first circle of hell is like.

SOME OF US HAVE TO GET PLACES

...Anyway, I don't necessarily need to think of myself as a good writer, or a good anything, although it would make life a whole lot easier and less fraught with anxiety and self-loathing. Thing is, I like writing, and I'mma do it regardless. Always have. I never considered trying to make anything publishable until I challenged myself to write a full-length draft of a novel to see if I could do it, and then thought it would be a shame not to try to whittle a sculpture outta that turd. Nothing to lose, yeah? (Well, dignity, but I don't have much of that left. I tend to smash my face into things in public.)

And my command of spelling and grammar is marginally better than many other folks (not here on this board, but In Life), so that's something I can cling to. Y'know, feeling all superior when you drive past a Hooters billboard that says "Kid's Eat Free". Fuck you, Hooters. My kid's will NOT be eating free until you learn APOSTROPHES, bitches.

Kitty27
12-22-2011, 12:11 PM
This is why I think Kitty's posts are the shiznit:I can't say I've ever doubted my ability to write something worthy of publication.

Have I ever come down on myself, hard? Well...yes.

With specific regard to writing? No.

This is all I've ever wanted to do. The only thing I've ever been much good at.

Self-confidence =/= arrogance.

Of course I believe I'm a good writer. I can back it up with contracts, royalties and readers. That doesn't make me arrogant. It means I set out to do something and achieved it.

PS: You need to quit the KanYe nonsense though. He's an idiot. Sorry, just is. :D

I wuv your crazy behind.

And Ye,too! I can't help it!

blacbird
12-22-2011, 12:19 PM
I don't need a bottom line.

Terrific for you. I do. It isn't money. It's respect from readers who don't know me. That would be a sign that what I do has validity, value, something beyond a fantasy ego-stroke of my own invention. I can fantasize all I want about how fab a writer I am and how good my stuff is, but if nobody else agrees, what the hell good is that?

caw

NeuroFizz
12-22-2011, 05:35 PM
I applaud the original post for the positive note it has sent throughout the thread. Writing is a personal endeavor, and in the early (learning) stages, comes with few back pats.

I do have a caution to mention, and that has to do with combining ego with writing. It can create a slippery slope if it is allowed to stray too far from the confines of self-confidence. Some people have egos that extend well beyond their demonstrated competence, and this is an important point for us all. I would rather not state to the world that I'm a great writer. What I am is a devoted writer, which means I am working hard to not only establish my competence in writing, but to constantly increase that competence, to constantly challenge myself to improve in the craft and in storytelling. This also means always setting new goals, sometimes experimenting (even though some experiments fail), and always paying attention to how my work turns out and how it is received. So where does ego/self-confidence work into this? Both should come from more than just a singular activity like writing. What we do outside of writing is just as important in both ego and self-confidence formation as what we do with our writing. For many of us, our personal self-image was formed long before we put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and it's not likely writing, in its early stages, will do much to alter that in one giant swoop. We can tell ourselves that we are great writers, but I'd rather ask myself what I've done lately to work toward being a better writer. If the answer is a shoulder shrug, I'm not a great writer. If the answer to my question is that I'm trying to improve in the following ways (include personal list), I can say I am working to be a better writer. And if I can look back at my earlier writing and see how my current writing is better, I have that sense of accomplishment that gives way more than lip service to my desire to be a better writer. It shows I am doing it. That builds self-confidence in my writing world without letting my ego get ahead of my accomplishments.

Personally, I will never tell myself I'm a great writer. I'm satisfied to say I'm showing improvement in my writing because this addresses realistic short-term goals. First drafts are getting closer and closer to final drafts. My writing toolbox is expanding. I'm trying new things, even if they fall flat. I'm having more fun with my writing, and getting that sense of creative accomplishment when I work through the tough spots and sticking points in my stories.

goldmund
12-23-2011, 04:46 AM
So, everyone who reads the title of your thread is a good writer?

I would put it this way:
Always remember how good a writer you are... provided you're not a shitty one.

butterfly
12-23-2011, 04:11 PM
I applaud the original post for the positive note it has sent throughout the thread.

Thank you!

Some people have egos that extend well beyond their demonstrated competence, and this is an important point for us all.

Not a lot of ego here, just confidence and determination.

I would rather not state to the world that I'm a great writer. What I am is a devoted writer, which means I am working hard to not only establish my competence in writing, but to constantly increase that competence, to constantly challenge myself to improve in the craft and in storytelling.

Yes! Determination!

For many of us, our personal self-image was formed long before we put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and it's not likely writing, in its early stages, will do much to alter that in one giant swoop.

sigh...so true...haunts from the past

And if I can look back at my earlier writing and see how my current writing is better, I have that sense of accomplishment that gives way more than lip service to my desire to be a better writer. It shows I am doing it. That builds self-confidence in my writing world without letting my ego get ahead of my accomplishments.

Exactly! This is you appreciating your own writing. I believe when you fall in love with your writing it's because you are discovering that finally, it's your voice coming through those words. You are letting go of those whose writing you wanted to emulate and are confident to now buy a new pen and write from your heart.

Personally, I will never tell myself I'm a great writer. I'm satisfied to say I'm showing improvement in my writing because this addresses realistic short-term goals. First drafts are getting closer and closer to final drafts. My writing toolbox is expanding. I'm trying new things, even if they fall flat. I'm having more fun with my writing, and getting that sense of creative accomplishment when I work through the tough spots and sticking points in my stories.

If you tell yourself you're a great writer then to your point, your ego has taken over and your writing will not be as strong. You should always carry a nugget of self-doubt to assure you will put all you possibly can into your writing.


So, everyone who reads the title of your thread is a good writer?

I would put it this way:
Always remember how good a writer you are... provided you're not a shitty one.

I debated on this being humorous but now it has me thinking. I think when saying "good writer" it should be taken to it's lowest common denominator - to write to make at least one other non-related person to laugh, cry, think, hope, or change their perspective because of what they read that you wrote. It doesn't have to be a blockbuster or a best seller or an instant internet sensation, it just has to make a difference in the moment of someone else's life.

I can read an 800 page book that is good but then come along a great sentence and will copy it into my Great Sentences notebook and think about it for hours. That one sentence will do it. To me, that is great writing. To be able to write that one sentence using words we all know but how we put them together, and for that one person, resonated with them to the extent they were able to think of one thing completely different from how they had thought of it before.

You can't deny the power in that, you just can't.

King Wenclas
12-24-2011, 08:05 PM
Great thread. My opinion on this is that a writer needs to be a split personality, being of two minds.

First, you need a fanatic belief in your own ability. If you're not a true believer in your talent, who else will be? The author, after all, in some way is presenting himself to the reader as an authoritative voice.

At the same time, of course, the writer needs to be able to step back and ruthlessly criticize his work and himself-- to be able to tear apart that work like a mechanic examining and rebuilding a car. How are the characters? Does it have a compelling plot? Pace? Hooks? Ideas??

Writers are a curious breed. By the nature of the work-- (I'm looking at a link on the previous post as I type this)-- the writer, at least on occasion, is an introvert. But what happens when it comes time to sell that work, and the personality behind it? I used to promote writers-- it was a unique experience. Almost every writer I've known, beneath any modesty, had a large ego-- yet not all were willing to test that ego or leverage it. It was a quiet thing.

I used with them the analogy of a fur trapper, out in the wilderness by himself-- but eventually has to bring his product to civilization.

Just some stray thoughts. Merry Christmas!

(Where are the great unknown writers?)

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