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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The delicate psyche of the aspiring writer

I went to a writing workshop last weekend. It's how my wife and I spent our anniversary, in fact. Yeah, I know, we're nerds. We've made our peace with it.

It was a one-day version of Todd A. Stone's Writer's Boot Camp. I definitely learned a few useful things, but the day had an effect on me that surprised me. I normally eat this sort of stuff up. I like learning about writing. I have at least a dozen books on fiction-writing, and I read a lot of writers' blogs to see what useful tips I can glean. I look forward to conference sessions and hope they'll be time well spent.

But this time I found my spirits getting down. Maybe it's the timing. A lot of times books on writing and workshops spark my creativity. This time, though, I kept hearing these great ideas on character development and thinking, "I didn't do that. My characters suck." And then these great ideas on plotting, and thinking, "I didn't do that. My plotting sucks." And then these great ideas on revision and thinking, "I didn't do that. My book sucks."


It was hard not to come out feeling as if I'd been set back.

Ultimately, I had to compartmentalize a lot of what I learned, as great ideas for the next book, because it's too crippling at this point to think I need to tear my book apart and rewrite it.


rebecca said...


I don't have to go to a workshop to play havoc with my psyche. All I have to do is sometimes pick up a really great book and it screams it at me! I suck, my writing sucks, my life sucks...suck, suck, suck.

*sigh* And then because I am blessed with the retention span of a goldfish, I forget about it and continue with my own deluded quest (isn't this a problem with you? Because I know it is with me...the intimidation factor of it all). Intimidation is so crippling, yet it seems to part and parcel of this journey. At least for me.

And, I doubt sincerely you suck...have you seen your writing? You write well, my friend.


Joe Iriarte said...

Oh I totally get that intimidated feeling. I used to get it when I read the mini book reviews on Locus--their plots seemed so intricate, mine felt pedestrian by comparison. So I stopped reading those. ;) I also feel that way when I read a particularly good paragraph in a story, but I haven't found a solution for that yet!

Thanks for the kind words! :)