Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Guest Blog Week: The Unsung Villains of Writing

By: Regina Milton, who asks that you check out her favorite charity, Mocha Club

The Art of Writing would not be what it is without a few miscreants...the unbelievers, haters, extortionists, the untalented, the naysayers and those who consider themselves unofficial beacons of negativity. Instead of bringing you (true artists) down, these people challenge you to step up your game, frustrate you into action, or inspire you to not "do ordinary" but to reach for something more meaningful. We have all come to know one/some of these at one point. They are discontented people who at first seem to be enemies of art, but instead are catalysts to our creativity. I thank you scoundrels, but this post (and subsequently Nathan's entire blog) is not for you.

There are many of you out there who speak with a true voice and who posses God given creativity that shows in what you say, how you move and what you make. I salute you, you are artists. You have a vision and a voice. You are not afraid of the hard work it takes to start something. You are not taken down by the rejections and criticism that challenge you as you present a finished product to the world. You are art. You sow hard work and originality; you reap beauty...and hopefully the satisfaction of someone else out there "getting" you. You politely (in your head) laugh at those who rudely (out loud) laugh at you, claiming that your job as a writer is not a real job and is not actually difficult. They feel that they "really work" and that writing (slaving away on a computer writing thousands of words per day) is an utter joke, and is something that they could do in their sleep...with the flu.

It can be a blow to morale to run into the people and forces that are in motion to stop you from being who you are called to be. It sucks to turn on the radio and hear music that makes you feel like you are losing brain cells when you know what you have to say has meaning. It is discouraging to read a book that you feel was a sad waste of the recycled paper it was printed on. I'm not one of those people who consider mainstream products as evil things created by wily people that are akin to Gollum (yes, it is important to reference The Lord of the Rings on all blog posts). Sure there are crafty individuals in the industries that fill our music stores, book stores and movie theaters with "mediocre mania" just so they can make a buck (actually a few hundred thousand), but art is not dead. Note: many mainstream things are so because they are quality and they appeal to a large audience. Don't give up hope or adopt a sour attitude if you encounter mediocrity that you think should have never been published.

Art is alive, and while I'll not deny that it is being attacked by sources outside of your control ("The Man") I'd like to argue that the biggest enemies of your work, the unsung villains that actually stop you, are inside of you. They take on the following guises:

complacency - that thing that stops us from rewriting a bad chapter one last time
doubt - the voice that says "your book will never be good enough, why even finish?"
pride - the force that convinces us to not take any more writing classes or attend any more seminars, because we've already "arrived"
fear - fear of failure, fear of success, fear of agents, fear of being misunderstood, fear that we are wasting our time, fear of hard work
writer's fatigue - yes, it takes a long time to make things perfect
procrastination - not making the effort until the last moment (sure this sometimes produces brilliant work, but it often results in shoddy writing)

All these things are rooted in a general laziness and lack of trust in self. Confidence and consistent effort show in our work. We need to combat these things that are intrinsic to our nature by learning all we can, writing all we can, and believing all we can about ourselves. If we are prone to bouts of sluggishness, we should seek out an accountability partner and set deadlines for ourselves. By now we should know our own nature. We should pinpoint problem areas and make plans to work through them, even if it means asking for help (I know it is a horrible word, not to be used by professionals, but let's be serious...we all need it sometime). That being said, what are the unsung villains of your work and what tricks have you learned to you combat them?


Thermocline said...

The fears my writing isn’t good enough take on a sharper edge with each agent rejection. It was easy to be blithe about wondering whether any agents would like my MS. Now I know.

I fight back with, “Well, the first book Dr. Seuss wrote got rejected something like 27 times and look how it turned out for him.” That’s working so far.

But I haven’t hit 27 rejections yet.

RW said...

Jane Smiley in her book Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Novel makes a related point that has been very helpful to me. She says that when a writer is experiencing boredom or fear enough to make them disinclined to work, those are symptoms of a flaw in the book that the writer hasn't grappled with yet. Some little spot of improbability or structural weakness or deadened motivation. Spot the problem, and the boredom and fear usually resolve themselves and you're off and running again.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

we are always our own worst critics.

I think it's good because it keeps us grounded and keeps our ego's in check. I also like it when people are harsh with me, criticizing my works and challenging me to become a BETTER writer.

Girl 7 said...

Perfectionism. Privacy. Persistence.

The 3 P's for me.

I'm private which is incredibly hard for a writer because I need to share in order to get better. I need to be persistent to get better. I need to let go of a piece eventually and not let perfectionism keep me up at night. Life must go on. The next project must begin. I can be wrong (sometimes) and let that not be the death of me.

JStantonChandler said...

My worst villian would be fear: fear of not being good enough, fear of success, fear of failure. Can you really be afraid of not making it and making it at the same time? You betcha. I battle both regularly. Couple that with a severe leaning towards procrastination and you've got one heck of a villian!

Wesley said...

I'm a huge fan of keeping "it" (the story, words, etc) bottled up in my head til it's ready to burst onto paper.

There's an urge that builds up to share this idea but usually once I've told it verbally then it has satisfied that story-telling need and becomes difficult to write.

Therefore, I keep to a minimum the number of people I share with and let it only be people who can help further the story.

Deidre said...

Thanks for your insight Regina. Found your article very helpful... It is true, we can't always blame the "haters"... sometimes it takes looking inside. Food for thought, for sure.

Anonymous said...

the "God given" thing is really out of place here - not everyone believes in a monotheistic entity and to introduce, even in a slight way, belief or faith or whatever underlying religiosity made me want to vomit. given what a disaster "faith based" politics & policies have done to this country (disaster much?) I really could have done without the tone and specifics of this post.

Rick Daley said...

This post was precious (get it? It's a Gollum reference. Ha!)

And to continue that thought, here is my greatest villain:

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

My tricks to combat this villain:
Slow the earth's rotation. WIP.

Deniz Kuypers said...

Doubt and procrastination are probably my worst enemies, the former usually leading to the latter. But the good thing about doubt (for me) is that I keep tweaking my work, making it as good as it can be (hopefully). It pushes me to continue to set the bar higher. Oftentimes I think of a comment Simon Cowell made on "American Idol" (how's that for a mass media reference that some people hate and others love?), who said, "Why be good when you can be great?"

CKHB said...

And Rick ups the ante with a Hobbit reference on top of LoTR...

Procrastination in deadly for me. In fact, I'm going to go offline right now!

Oh, the charity looks really worthwhile, thank you!

Mercy Loomis said...

For me the worst is procrastination. It's so easy to put writing off because I don't feel like it today, or because I'm researching and that's much more interesting than tearing the words one by one out of my brain because they just aren't flowing right now.

The other thing I have a hard time with is feedback. I really want feedback. I do. I love good constructive no-holds-barred feedback. But my first response is always to get defensive, even though I KNOW they have a point. It's taking my poor husband awhile to figure out that when he gives me feedback and I just nod with a totally blank face, I'm not angry. I just can't respond until I've let things simmer in the back of my head for a day, or I'll get all RAR IT'S FINE YOU JUST DON"T GET IT! Hehe.

Anonymous said...

Some readers just can't leave off finding a flaw or two in any written work. This is a subset to the "half full, half empty" theory magnified to an atom's particle view.

Your assessment of writer villains leads us to reflect on how writers sometimes are their own worst enemies.

Mary Jo

D. G. Hudson said...

Most writers that I know consider their writing to be an intrinsic part of themselves, so it takes a bit of time to recover from the shock of rejection. (i.e., denial, frustration, grudging acceptance)

After that, your advice is perfect for getting us out of the slag heap of procrastination.

Enjoyed your posting, a mid-week motivator.

Amber said...

Whenever I get down about my writing, I remember Baum, whose tales of Oz began as stories for his children. Even if nobody knows them but me and those I am close to, I have stories I can share, and the characters are alive in my imagination whether or not a successfully publish their stories. But I owe it to them to at least write them down.

My greatest villain is time. When eight hours of my day is filled with school, then another five or six with work, I feel like I don't have the energy to do any writing that day. I know I need to work on my mindset and put in at least an hour or two, even on those days.

Thank you for sharing this with us, and thank you Nathan, for allowing it!

Ash D. said...

Excellent post! It was very thought-provoking and inspiring.

My biggest villains are probably fear and self-doubt.

I don't always believe that I'm good enough to "make it" and so, from time to time, several months will pass when I write very little (if any at all).

But then I remember that it doesn't really matter if I "make it" or not because writing is something that I enjoy doing, even if my words are never read by anyone else. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Regina. This was a message I really needed to hear today.

Dara said...

I know I'm the one who definitely suffers from being a huge procrastinator...and making excuses about why I shouldn't write. Self doubt is a close second.

Thanks for the inspiration! :)

Marsha Sigman said...

I think my villains would be Fear and Doubt. I have always loved to read so much and when I read something really good, the fear and doubt in me says 'You will never be this good, why are you even trying?'.

I have to battle those villains every day. In my head they look exactly like twin Gollums. I knew I could fit in a LOTR reference.

So far I am just trying to ignore them as best I can. I don't want to look back on my life and say I didn't try because I was afraid or lazy.

bethanyintexas said...

I waited so long to even try to publish because of fear of rejection or fear of not being good enough. But now I've said to myself "I don't want to wonder if I can do it, I'm just going to do it." I still get plagued by doubts, but I have to push them aside and say that my wanting to write and put myself out there is more important than my doubts.

This post rocks was fabulous! Thank you so much! And I liked the "God given talent" reference and the Gollum reference was great. Good reminders.

bethanyintexas said...

P.S. I haven't been published, yet, but I plan on putting myself out there!

Just Me said...

What a great post - and timely for me. I'm about to send out my first queries today - unless I procrastinate :)

Fear is a HUGE block for me. Shy, surrounded by linear, left-brained folks (whom I love!), I'm terrified of sending that query. But, like Frodo, I will persevere!

Mira said...

Wonderful topic, Regina, thanks.

Lately, I've realized my biggest internal enemy is my tendency to distract myself from what's my top priority.

I get into battles that I shouldn't, because there are other, more important things I should focus on. I worry too much about the end result of my writing - getting published - instead of just focusing on the writing itself. I get involved in personalities in writing groups, etc. that have nothing to do with my writing.

I don't know if this is my biggest internal villian, but it's the one that's coming to my attention right now, and it's a big one!

Now that I've identified it, though, I'm hopeful that I can work with it.

Thanks again for your post and your thoughts, Regina - appreciate it.

~Aimee States said...

Fear, doubt, procrastination, yep, I suffer all those things. And I realized I suffered them because I wrote three novels without learning how to write them first. There is something to be said for taking a big step back and getting all your ducks in a row before you start throwing manuscripts at agents in random drive-by emails. That's what gets you there, learning and then learning more. A commitment to excellence works in all things.

Matilda McCloud said...

Thanks for your post. I sure needed this one! I'd say doubt is my biggest villain.

I think it's important to ride the waves of doubt, fear of failure, etc. but not drown in them. So some weeks I'll feel gloomy, but then a week or two later I'll feel more hopeful (maybe I thought of a new scene to add to my novel, tweaked my query letter, etc).

Regan Leigh said...

A friend of mine just made a comment on my blog that I found interesting. I was having an Am I Crazy meltdown day. :) (My villain by far is self doubt.) She's an artist and mentioned a book called "Art and Fear". She said it views art as a verb, not a noun, and that it’s the making, not the finished product that is most important. The creative act of writing is the point, not necessarily the finished product, because we can't completely control what the reader is going to take from it. We just have to be proud of the work and creativity that went into it, as well as being personally content with the finished product.

Nice post. Thanks!

Newbee said...

I'd say my "villains" are just getting started after stopping the writing process for days or weeks due to "life". The funny thing is, if I make myself start up again and get off Facebook,I don't want to stop writing. Anything that interupts me after that just bugs me and I tell them to go away...I'm busy!

Karen Beeching said...

What I do to combat writing villains:

1. Butt in chair
2. Write

Newbee said...


Do you know if there are still openings for your workshop?


Kristi said...

Oh Regina - what a great post. It's so true that most people's "enemies" are themselves. I've heard people complain about some of what's published but I think there are other issues. e.g. While there are Stephanie Meyer bashers out there, I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats and that any author who brings people to books (yes, even Lauren Congrad)is a positive thing (although I like to think a different sort of people would buy my book :)

My twin villains are perfectionism and procrastination. My lovely group of critique partners helps with those though, so it's better than it was. Thanks for this!

Mira said...

Jen - hope it's okay if I answer you. Nathan's away this week.

If you go to the post where he announced it, there's a link to the bookstore. You could contact them to ask.

Sarah from Hawthorne said...

My biggest villain: the allure of the new.

Every time I get a decent chunk of the way into a new project, once the novelty has worn off and I'm realizing just how much work it's gonna take to get from outline to finished product, that's about the time I get a new idea. For a new project. That surely would be so much better and require so much less effort...

Marla Warren said...

Procrastination is especially a problem for writers who do not have deadlines. (That was the great thing about Nathan's guest blog contest; it gave many of us a deadline and spurred us to write. And I was pleased with myself for having submitted something by the deadline. Though now I am glad that I will have time to revise and expand what I wrote.)

When you are writing something that no one is waiting for but you hope to get published someday, then the burden is on you to set deadlines for yourself and be productive.

I don't want to grow old and die wondering what might have happened if I had finished and submitted more of my writing.

PurpleClover said...

My Facebook addiction. And it doesn't help that other writers, bloggers, editors, and agents ALSO use Facebook.

The first step is admittance. I haven't gotten to the second step yet. I'll let you know how it goes. ;)

Anna said...

I love this!!! Thanks heaps... :)))

SM Blooding said...

Rick, you're too funny!

My biggest*thinking really, really hard. Um, it depends on the day. *nods* I have to keep the entire bag of tricks ready at a moments notice to combat the doubt, the fear, the characters fighting in my head.

Complacency? Not so much. More a lack of time.

Pride? *snort* Don't I wish!

Procrastination? You know? For a procrastinator--and I AM--I get an awful lot done! I didn't realize that until I started making "lists".

Writer's fatigue? That one is huge! Eventually, Starbucks stops being effective.

Newbee said...

Sweet! Mira...thanks. I've been away myself! :)

Marilyn Peake said...

WOW. That is a really powerful Guest Blog! I think every writer should read it; I’m sure I’ll revisit it in the future. I agree with everything you’ve said, Regina. There are many people and forces that, as you say, "... at first seem to be enemies of art, but instead are catalysts to our creativity." That’s a really positive way of looking at things. Being a writer isn’t easy. It’s hard work, often including long periods of exhaustion, not to mention physical side effects like migraine headaches and back pain, and then there are "... the unbelievers, haters, extortionists, the untalented, the naysayers and those who consider themselves unofficial beacons of negativity." If a writer allows such people and forces to get them down for too long, their writing career is over: it becomes too hard to continue. And, if a writer spends too much time and energy being angry about the unfairness of it all, that saps their creative energy and the energy needed to improve their craft. It’s important to find ways to love the creative process of writing, no matter what. I mean, what if the hobbits, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, had given up as soon as their mission became too difficult? (I also agree that it’s "... important to reference The Lord of the Rings on all blog posts.")

Marilyn Peake said...

Forgot to answer the wonderful question at the end of the Guest Blog. In the spring, exhaustion was definitely my worst problem. I had spent so many hours editing other authors’ books while writing my own novel, I got burned out, even losing my peripheral vision several times due to migraine headaches. I took the entire summer off from writing. I’m now feeling wonderful and can’t wait to return to writing in the fall. I expect to complete my new sci fi novel around October. :)


A big thank you for unveiling again, that I am my own Saboteur.
Severe as it is, it is true.
I am the only one that trips me up.

Love the Dr. Seuss survival story, and I have since found the movie of "Mrs. Potter"...Beatrix Potter, a subtle story with a strong current the carries out to larger picture, straight from the center core.

And, since my writing tends move towards the juvenile set, I have those two survival stories set along my GPS route, just in case.

Horserider said...

"I fight back with, “Well, the first book Dr. Seuss wrote got rejected something like 27 times and look how it turned out for him.” That’s working so far."

I think it was actually 72 times.

I have wonderful writer friends that tell me that I don't suck when I'm down and help me brainstorm when I'm stuck. It's great to have writer friends so you can share criticism, help, and news -- both good and bad.

T. Anne said...

Brilliant post.

The demon that most haunts me is lack of time and his evil twin self doubt. I find stealing time to write occurs best at unnatural hours. And unlike Rick Daley I lack the superpower to slow the Earth's rotation thus I must rise before the sun and pound the keyboard until I pump out a satisfactory word count or someone demands breakfast, whichever comes first. The self doubt arises with the steady stream of rejections that (mistakingly) find their way into my inbox. Although oddly, they make me feel connected to the industry. Go figure.

Kerrie said...

What an insightful post. Thanks. My biggest problems are procrastination and putting too much energy into talking about what I am going to write, instead of just writing it.

For procrastination, I find I am the most productive when I plan out my day ahead of time (minute by minute).

Eric Blair jr. said...

My art uses the common weapons to combat writing villians: hella blunts, lots of sex, and the occasion shot of bourbon-oh and cigarettes, lots of cigarettes.

Joann said...

Awesome post - thank you! The common themes appearing in the comments are tremendously reassuring. Whew - not crazy after all.

Like many others, my personal villain is self-doubt, but with a bit of a twist: some days I think I've written my magnum opus and other days I see first draft material with no hope of ever publishing. It's been long enough now that I know a magnum opus day will always be followed by a first draft day. Unfortunately, the opposite does not hold true. Today is a first draft day and it's taken me much longer to write this paragraph than is reasonable.

Pressing PUBLISH....

Mira said...

Sure Jen. :-)

The one that always impresses me is Chicken Soup for the Soul. It was turned down 140 times, AND their first agent dropped them.

Can you imagine? By the 139th rejection, they had to have been going on pure chutpah. But it seemed to have worked out for them!

Emily C. said...

I'd like to add another to the list: perfectionism. So often I go back and revise and revise and revise instead of making any progress.
"Perfect never finishes." --Holly Lisle

ryan field said...

This was a nice post.

Regina Milton said...

I love us writer people...we're all so honest. It does give you the assurance that you are not crazy or alone when you know so many others struggle with the same enemies. I write articles so my main challenge is moving from the thrill of getting one accepted to writing the next. It is nice to have our work selected, to have an agent love us, or to have lots of positive attention on our current book, but it is the niceness of that feeling that makes it easy to forget that we still have a career! Ugh.

Marla Warren- you hit it. We must set deadlines for ourselves.
...and Mira- thanks for the info. about Chicken Soup, I only hope to have that kind of fortitude.
Anonymous #1- I respect that you have different feelings than mine. Some people feel strongly about certain things (as is evident by the tone that you perceived in the post) and you disagree, feeling strongly about other things. I'm glad all writers don't think the same. Thanks for sharing.

In general I like to learn from other writers and try to encourage artists when I can...if they care to listen.

Rick Daley said...

For the record, I have not succeeded in slowing the earth's rotation. You will know if I do, because you will need to reinvest in all of your clocks and watches.

The last attempt I made actually decreased the length of a day by 2.68 microseconds, and it resulted in a massive earthquake and tsunami. I am still harboring a tremendous amount of guilt over that incident, so it may be a while before I try again.

Marilyn Peake said...

Wow, Rick, you ARE dedicated. I thought maybe your Guest Blog on Friday might be about how you slowed the Earth's rotation. But you only slowed it by 2.68 microseconds AND it caused a massive earthquake and tsunami? Wow, you better get back to work. We're counting on you for those much-needed extra hours in the day. :)

Jane Spradling said...

This is a timely post for me. Someone sent me an e-mail recently that inspired me: "As I unclutter my life, I free myself to answer the true callings of my soul." The true calling for me is to write--not caring whether it is ever published, just for the pure joy of expressing my life insights. This post inspires me to write...unclutter...write...unclutter. Thanks for the prodding.

Reesha said...

Thank you. This is exactly what I needed today.

One villain of mine is doubt. Doubting that I will ever be able or am even meant to write a book that gets published.

How I combat this is I call up my writer friend and cousin, who is absolutely awesome, and ask her what the heck is wrong with me. She usually tells me that everything is wrong with me and that's why I will make such a great writer. We laugh, then we write 3k words together over the phone or in a coffee shop, and then I feel better.

Jil said...

My villain is time. No time to look up agents. No time to write another query letter. No time to send something out or ponder the mysterious actions of my computer.

My time should be spent writing I tell myself - inwardly knowing I am really only pandering to what I enjoy most.

Robin said...

Time. My villain is time. Sometimes fear rears its head. But mainly it's time.

Laura Martone said...

I'm with Kristi. Perfectionism and procrastination are my two biggest issues. Self-doubt is up there, too. And I haven't figured out how to overcome any of them yet.

In fact, I find it serendipitous that this should be today's guest post. Just this morning, my husband and I were having a discussion about my future as a writer. We're poor little church mice (like many people at the moment) - so I sometimes think that I have a responsibility to work on paying jobs and put my novel aside (again). But Dan keeps pushing me to stop worrying about the logistics of life and concentrate on editing my novel. And while I appreciate his support, I find his plan of attack easier said than done - after all, I'm rarely at my best creatively when real-life worries are weighing me down.

So, thanks, Regina, for this post. Like many others here, I needed to hear it today.


Vacuum Queen said...

TOTALLY my thoughts, but I couldn't have put it this well. Nice entry. :)

marco's blog said...

Great post!
working on my first graphic novel, which adds a whole new batch of enemies who ask where are the capes? why is it not in color? etc...
and my favorite, why do you have to write anything, can't you just draw it?

thanks for the motivation/inspiration...

Ink said...

My villain is Batman. Always interfering in my plans. Dastardly fellow.

Ink said...

(And the Gotham publishers. They're in cahoots.)

susiej said...

Great post Regina! Thanks for the motivation. It's an oft repeated saying (I know I repeat it to myself regularly) and it's true- there's a word for those who don't give up: published.

And Rick- very good one! But even if there were more hours in the day, my brain would still be tired at the end of it.

Beck said...

Thank you so much for posting this and here's to you Regina, for writing it.

Bravo - I really needed this right about now! =]

mkcbunny said...

This is a great post. Thank you, Regina.

I think that fear of success is a point that's not often covered. Fear of failure is probably more common, but sometimes they come together. Fear of any kind just loves company. Don't listen. (I can say that, but it doesn't prevent fear from being my worst enemy.

That and a sense of always being behind. I guess it's just a different kind of fear. I feel like time is running out, the clock's ticking, and I HAVE to finish, or ... or what? I don't know. It'll be "too late." That sense of urgency always nags at me when I am trying to be thorough and just go through my final checklist of edits.

Kristin Tubb said...

Re naysayers: When I told my senior high school English teacher that I wanted to be a writer, he responded, "Why? All the good stories have been told already."

*gnashes teeth and gets back to work*

mkcbunny said...

RW, that was a great comment up front. That is certainly true for me. Sometimes, I know what it is, but I don't know how to fix it. In that case, I tackle easier fixes first and work up to the big one. Then, I've gained fix-it momentum for the larger issue, and often the stewing time helps to solve the problem.

Where I get really frustrated is looking at the monster problem, with no solution in mind, and just staring at it. I need to move on and keep busy, or I just get depressed.

Etiquette Bitch said...

in addition to the all-too-familiar villains you listed, mine are are the sneers I make at crappy writers who got published. (really? millions of people bought your book about you laying on the couch watching Bravo? really?) but then I look at my PC wallpaper, which displays a quote from Werner Herzog, written to a wannabe filmmaker who was griping about how no one was patronizing or supporting his films. In short: "quit whining and get to work."

great post, and a good kick in the ass. thanks.

Writeaholic said...

My biggest unsung villain is self-doubt -- fear that my novel isn't good enough, will never be polished enough, my query not ready for prime time, etc.

How do I get past this self-doubt?

I don't know - I haven't started querying yet, although I have participated at Miss Snark's First Victim's Agent Contests in which my query or 250-word excerpt was read by a "secret agent". Needless to say I haven't won yet, but it has been very helpful. I think I'm almost ready.

Etiquette Bitch said...

hey, i want to say thanks to everyone who's posted in response to Regina's guest blog. reading your fears & such makes me feel not so alone. Esp. the mention of "always being behind."

Thank you all for sharing.

Donna Hole said...

Well at least I'm not alone with all my "crazies". Self doubt and procrastination seem to have a hey-day in here, and my misery is finding lots of company to feed itself.

Thanks for the pep-talk Regina, I needed that also.

Mira: I was also wondering if Nathan's workshop is full, but I haven't been able to get anywhere on the wordplay link. I have a problem with my pop-server(?) on outlook. Is there something I'm not doing correctly? Once I realized the workshop was on a Sunday I've been wild to go, but can't figure out how to get a reservation.

And Rick: You most certainly did slow time today. It must have taken at least sixteen hours to get from 4:30 to 5pm. And not a single natural disaster to rescue me from my desk!!

Marla Warren said...

Kristin Tubb wrote:

Re naysayers: When I told my senior high school English teacher that I wanted to be a writer, he responded, "Why? All the good stories have been told already."

That reminds me of the story about the head of the US Patent Office in the 1890s. He said the office should be shut down because everything that could be invented had already been invented.

Like your English teacher, a person with no imagination.

DG said...

Wesley, 6th entry in, said it best for me. Yes, a part of the story I need to tell, dies whenever I try to test it verbally with someone.

Resisting that urge to let some ideas leak out, strengthens my creativity, increases my excitement, and ultimately looks better to me on the page.

Mira said...

Donna - So the link from last Friday won't work for you?

Hmmm. I guess I'd google Books Inc. It's the one on Opera Plaza. If you click on the Wordplay section, it should take you right there. It doesn't say it's full, so I'm guessing that it's not yet.

Here's the phone number and address if you can't get to the website:

Books Inc. Opera Plaza
601 Van Ness Ave, SF
(415) 776-1111

I'm sure you could just call and take care of it over the phone.

Oh, the irony since I can't go myself. But you can tell me all about how wonderful Nathan was. :)

Terresa said...

Having young kids (4 of them ages 7 and under) doesn't help a writer any. That said, ironically, they are the soil, the compost pile of rich thoughts from which much of my writing comes.

While noise and constant distractions are my enemy, irony is my friend (as well as my children).

Brenda said...

Praise is my enemy.

It feels so good to read an enthusiastic comment about my work; the first time, the tenth time, the ten thousandth time.

I should be writing.

Terry said...

Good post. What is it about writers, particularly fiction writers?

Having written non-fiction, I can say I never suffered the fears that fiction writing conjures up in me.

Pervectionism. No time for it in journalism. That's what editors are for.

Fear of success. In journalism it's only today. Yesterday's front page story has gone bye-bye. What's next?

The need for privacy. As a news reporter, it's just your words on the page and your by-line. You can still go to the supermarket and no one knows you. A successful fiction writer must get out and sell him/herself.

So now I'm riddled with fears and tics I thought I was too sensible to ever have.

Lydia Sharp said...

Excellent post.

doug said...

Excellent post. Doubt's a big one for me. Every time I hear that voice saying it's not worth trying I have to remind myself I can't be sure unless I actually make the attempt. The more I attempt, the more I accomplish and soon that voice quiets down.

Thomas Burchfield said...

Same on the self-doubt--my own shy reclusive nature; my powerful (and loud) Inner Nihilist; my somewhat hyper-sensitivity to certain *styles* of criticism; the feeling that what I'm doing is either not that good (or worse), or not that important in the larger scheme of things.

You may find my post at the Red Room this week--a humorous rant about the frustration of trying to get a book published--somewhat related and maybe enlightening.

Terry said...

Thomas B. I love humor and wanted to read your post on Red Room but I'm unfamiliar with the site and couldn't find you.

Would you leave a link or help me to connect. Thanks.

Also RW, Thanks for the Jane Smiley quote. Good food for thought.

sally apokedak said...

beautiful post! Thanks!

Thomas Burchfield said...

Hi Terry: clicking on my name here should take you to my page; if not:

Terry said...

Hi Thomas, I'm laughing so hard my eyes are tearing up.

The Tweet stuff, all of it. Thanks for linking me!

I'll have to keep up with that Red site. Let me know if you post any more. I love humour, especially if it's a bit dry and sarcastic and on target.

Do you have a book published yet?

caboozie said...

I'm in the midst of revisions on my first novel and I was feeling all of the six "enemies" you delineated. Thanks for the timely post. It was encouraging!

Megan said...

Wonderful piece Regina!

I have several villains which take turns torturing me. The first is writer's fatigue. I have this thing about word choice. The more specific the topic the more obsessed I become with choosing the BEST word. It's exhausting!

Then comes procrastination because I'm tired. Then comes fear because nothing is being written, I have a deadline, and it's going to be "shoddy"!

This is my nature. What is my help? Usually after talking negatively about myself to someone compassionately critical, I keep writing!

Lindsay Price said...

Wow, here's a post that has really struck a nerve! The villain in ourselves are always going to be bigger, scarier and meaner than any goofball who thinks writing is easy.

My villains are related to the writing, but to everything else that is required to get the work out there. Creating connections, keeping in touch with a community of writers, being seen and known.

I write in a niche market, which is great but can be isolating. I also have other works not in the niche that sit patiently in a drawer waiting for me to conquer my villain...

Beth Terrell said...

Great post, and one we can almost all relate to.

Thank you.

Carmen said...

My worst villain would by laziness and fear.

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