Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

True or False? ~ If You Think You’re A Good Writer, You’re Not…


I saw a tweet the other day that said something similar to the title of this post and I got a chuckle out of it.

But right on the heels of the chuckle came doubt…

I do feel some of my writing is good. I also feel some of my writing isn’t as good as I sometimes think it is.

There’s a fairly common cycle of feeling that infects authors’ minds—I’m Great/I Suck/I’m Great/I Suck…

I think the middle portions of the wave, not the peaks and troughs, are where some truth can be garnered.

My dear, departed father instilled in my tender nature a feature of character that I’ve spent many decades trying to root-out—Perfectionism.

To be fair, I also got a large portion of respect for discipline from him.

A perfectionist needs discipline if they want to continue on the road toward the impossible destination—Perfection.

I’m a firm believer that anything I write can be better, even if I reach a decision that it’s near enough to “perfection” to publish.

“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.”
Paul Valery

I’m also a firm believer that discipline can be used to punish yourself when you feel you’re not good enough—pushing your efforts past the point of rest and reflection…

So, if you think you’re a good writer; but, you don’t think your writing is perfect, you just might be a good writer…

If you think you’re a good writer and also that your writing is perfect, think again………

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I really don’t imagine you feel your writing is perfect but I do suspect you find the I’m Great/I Suck cycle a somewhat familiar visitor. Care to share? :-)
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15 responses to “True or False? ~ If You Think You’re A Good Writer, You’re Not…

  1. Karla Telega January 22, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve read so many people saying that you just know when you’re finished editing and your work is as good as it can be. I made the unforgivable mistake of telling a multi-published author that my finished book could be better. I’ve learned so much since I wrote it. Editors and agents who’ve critiqued it have raved about it. Two agents have said that once I build up more of a following, call them.

    I’m going to give it another look once I finish the current work in progress. I don’t think I’m being too hard on myself, because I really feel positive about going over it again and making it fantastic. So am I a poor judge of my writing abilities and what’s good enough?

    I’m currently doing my first foray into mystery writing, so there’s plenty of I’m Great / I suck. Maybe once I’ve published a couple hundred books, I’ll get over it. Maybe.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm

      “I’ve read so many people saying that you just know when you’re finished editing and your work is as good as it can be.”

      I said that with every chapter I wrote for my WIP. Said it again after I did a full revision to prep for the editor. Probably will say it after my final revisions… Without hitting the extremes of I’m Great/ISuck, I think, as I prepare to abandon the manuscript to its published state, I’m climbing a set of editing steps: pretty good, better, even better, best-for-now, publish…

      “I made the unforgivable mistake of telling a multi-published author that my finished book could be better.” Why was it “unforgivable”? What did they say??

      “So am I a poor judge of my writing abilities and what’s good enough?” Probably not :-)

      “Maybe once I’ve published a couple hundred books, I’ll get over it.”

      Naw. Probably only take fifty…

      Like

  2. cmmarcum January 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I confess, I too go through this cycle and I wonder if I’m wasting my time. That’s when my alter ego, affectionately named Lu, says, “What would you rather be doing?”
    “Nothing,” I say. “I have no other desires.”
    “There you go,” Lu smirks. “Write on.”

    Like

  3. Simone Benedict January 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    It’s true. I’m always a bit humbled when what I write that in my mind is great doesn’t get published. The pieces I think are quite mediocre are what gets published. Does anyone else have that experience?

    Like

  4. Lindsay January 24, 2011 at 1:43 am

    It’s good to be self-aware, and I suspect most people who think they’re just da bomb probably live in a state of delusion. :P That said, there’s definitely such a thing as being too critical of one’s work. I probably fall more into that camp. I think there are some things I do well as a writer, but I’m a little lazy in some areas, and I know there’s room for improvement!

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 24, 2011 at 3:01 am

      Hey ! Great to see ya here !!

      I fall into the mostly self-critical camp with spells of “Damn-that’s-good-stuff” :-)

      But, so far, I’ve avoided the I’m Great/I Suck Cycle…

      Again, Lindsay, good to see you here :-)
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      Hey folks, go visit Lindsay’s Blog

      Like

  5. HaleyWhitehall January 26, 2011 at 4:14 am

    My cycle isn’t I’m Great/I Suck is is more like I’m an Awesome Writer/I need to Find a Different Career. Writing takes a lot of time and persistence. Some days I wonder why I’m torturing myself. Then, like cmmarcum said, I realize that there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. At the moment, I have no more desires so I keep going. I’m never fully satisfied with my work and I’ve come to accept that. I just do the best I can. I’m always surprised when someone tells me how great a piece of my writing is. I’m so hard on myself most of the time I don’t see it.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 26, 2011 at 4:39 am

      Haley,

      I’m glad you can accept that you’re never “fully satisfied” with your work. As long as that doesn’t slide into “never satisfied at all” your safe.

      Thank God you have people telling you your writing is good. Please, let yourself believe they know what they’re talking about :-)

      Like

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