Dead End Follies, where he likes to talk about writing, reading, movies and pop culture in general. He lives in Montreal, Canada. Thanks, Ben, for writing today’s post:
Let me guess. You follow a hundred, maybe two hundred blogs on your Google Reads and most of them are about writing? You’ve read the books Donald Maass, Ray Bradbury and Lawrence Block wrote on the subject. You have critique partners and attend several workshops. You have faith that you can write a book, but every day, somebody makes you doubt your decision and makes you feel like starting over again.
I’m sorry if this breaks your heart, but none of these people care about your novel. In fact, nobody does. Nobody but you. Until your book is out and published, you’re your biggest fan. I’m not looking to discourage you here. Just to make you realize something. Writing advice will only get you so far. Writing your guts off will make you go the extra mile and reach publication.
Making distance between you, advisors and critics is vital. These are a necessary part of the process, but they don’t control your work. If you feel that something works, despite what the others think, keep it. Take novelist Josh Stallings, for example. The bad guys in his novel BEAUTIFUL, NAKED & DEAD are somewhat cardboardish. They don’t have a strong identity. It’s a big no-no in the writing playbook, but in Stallings’ novel, it works. Because his novel is driven by his famous character, Moses McGuire. It’s about him, his inner demons and his journey to a better life that forever eludes him.
You have to cultivate your inner critic. You will know in your gut if what’s on the page works or not. It’s your story after all. Be your own editor. If you care to make your prose tight and your storytelling fluid, people will start enjoying your stories. Editors will notice you, because you make their lives easier. Let go of the playbook. You’ve read it over and over again. Reading it another time will make you fall into the hell of second guessing. Step up and take responsibility for your work. Until it’s under press, you’re the only one who cares.
Do you find it easy or difficult to trust your own judgement when it comes to your writing? How do you decide who to listen to?
Thanks again, Ben, for a wonderful post on a topic that’s close to my heart.
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