10 preoccupations writers can do without….

Add up all your writing worries and you could, maybe, fill a 1,000 page novel with angst.

Writer’s worry about many things: When to write, what to write, where to write, why the hell they are writing. The list goes on. Is this character the right one to take on that character? Should he be a boy or a girl? Should I base the story in this town or that city? Have I killed off that shady character too soon?

Don’t sweat so much.

What’s my word count?

We all play this game. We have it in the corner of our PC and we glance at it far too often. We writers like word counts. As if it means anything. Words joined together make a sentence to mean stuff. Volume of words doesn’t mean spit.

My first draft sucks

Breaking news: Most first drafts suck. That’s why they’re first drafts. They’re usually followed by a second or third. No one has ever had a first draft professionally published. If they say they have, they’re lying. Check their work for plagiarism. Or just go at them with a fork.

Am I a plotter or a pantser?
I hate this question. Sometimes I plot, sometimes I just write what comes into my head and have a happy hope it leads somewhere nice. Those who are pro plotting say it stops your plot from getting out of hand. Pro Pantsers say that just letting fly makes their writing more inspired. Which ever one you chose, or if you want to chose both, do me a favour, be happy in your choice.

Spelling and grandma

Who cares if you can’t spell or only have the rudiments of grammar? That’s why god invented spell checkers and editors. Personally, I hate apostrophes. If I had a gun and I could see an apostrophe, I’d shoot the damn thing. People who sweat about spelling and grammar should get out more. What matters is your idea. What matters is your gift for transmitting that idea.

Writers write

I hate this dumb comment. It immediately makes me want to stop writing. It’s supposed to make things simple but all it does when a writer sees it is make them think about why they can’t write and then it makes them go and get a coffee and have sex with a badger. Saying writers write to a writer is like saying you can’t write, give up now.

Can I be an overnight writing success?

No, you can’t. Live with it. Self-publishing, Indie, the whole social media thing. It all takes time. Make the effort to learn all sides of your craft/business. Build slow. Gather knowledge. Think about what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can do it while you’re writing that great novel. It’s easy. You just have to connect. Don’t sweat, it’s not that difficult.

The muse. WTF is she playing at?

You sit at your PC, waiting for the words to come. You type, delete, type, delete. For two hours you try to encourage the muse. Then, when you’re in bed, she flits in and throws an idea or two into your head. The muse is a bitch. If I had a gun…yeah, yeah, yeah….

So your question for today is this: The muse does this because….answers on a postcard.

Is my novel really any good?

The $64,000 question. Unfortunately, it’s not for you to decide. Your peers decide. Those people out there. And they don’t care much about your feelings. You’re just as likely to get a good review as a bad review…you know why, because people are like that. If they were all the same, you wouldn’t need writers to explore the human condition.

My advice: Have the courage of your convictions and don’t get hung up on the reviews. Don’t get over excited by the good ones, and don’t sink into the pit of despond by the bad ones. Remain on even ground. After all, it’s only a book.

No, is it really, really any good?

Yeah, you may have inadvertently written a classic. It might even, in years to come, be used in schools like To Kill a Muckybird or Lord of the Fleas. Listen up: It’s beyond your control. Don’t sweat. Get on with the next book. If you’ve written a classic, when you’re dead they’ll engrave something on your tombstone about it.

And finally: Why am I doing this?

Because you’re a writer. And didn’t you know…writers write…

Got any neuroses you’d like to share with the Feckless Goblin. As usual, scamper over to the comments section and let us all know…

10 thoughts on “10 preoccupations writers can do without….

  1. Another of my favourites: what’s everybody else doing? And then getting so immersed in that I end up forgetting what I *wanted* to do!

  2. Yes I worry I’ll turn into Robert Jordan without the benefit of having my work published.It gnaws.

  3. “But I can’t write this idea that won’t leave me alone, it’s the wrong genre!”For pity’s sake, just write whatever comes into your head and hang genre.

  4. I’m guilty of saying ‘writers write’ to writers, but that’s only because too many people are ASPIRING writers and not WORKING writers. Great post!

  5. I have FINALLY twigged that #1 is correct. So now the story is done when the story is done, and not when I’ve hit so many words.Except when I’m working to a submission call…

  6. Hi Feckless Goblin,Great post, however, I respectfully disagree with you on a couple of items.#1 -Word count. Without volume of words, there is not much on a page to mean anything. Maybe I am taking you too literally, but I think you need a barometer to gauge progress. Perhaps a seasoned author can work 8 hours/day and feel good about one brilliant paragraph, but I cannot. Even if half the words are pure shite, I know I have at least worked some ideas out of my head on paper with the intent to move the m/s along.#4 – Spelling and GrandmaI definitely need to get out more often! I do sweat spelling and grammar even though I think I am pretty good at both. Sure, ideas are what matters, but if a reader cannot understand what the writer is saying because it is a struggle to wade through the misspelled words and poor grammar, then it says a lot about the writer. As a reader, I would think:A: The writer does not care, so why should I?B: This takes too much effort – I cannot follow the storyC: I think there is a good story here, but I am constantly distracted by the mistakes Great ideas are fine, but the foundation on which they sit has to be strong enough to get the message across.Lastly, I like apostrophes, but I proofed my comment and purposely removed all of them just for you.Eden

  7. Word count as a pre-occupation is bad, that doesn’t mean having a word count goal is bad. That’s how I see it.

  8. Thank you for this!!! There sseems to be so many rules out there it’s suffocating. I especially love the point about word count. I’ve learned that for me, it’s about “getting a good session in”, not the actual word count. I loved the “plotter vs. pantser” point too. So you figure out what type or blend of types you are — it still doesn’t tell you if you’re any good!

  9. Hi Feckless,You’ve got my vote for the best damn blog out there for writers. I’ve often worried that I might die before I publish all my books and the ones still in my head and that thought, at times, has weighed me down. But then I get back into it, knowing that I can only do so much and when I’m dead i won’t care about writing anyway. Sad, but true. Thanks again for another great post. You da’ man!

  10. HunterValleyYabby2 February 4, 2011 — 9:19 am

    Serious wine-blurtage and hopeless giggling at this one. Wonderful! Rapidly becoming one of my fastest-clicked-on blog-updates.

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