The Ego of the Writer

The writer is like a delicate elf mixed with an ogre. So… a tiny orc then, right? Or a goblin? Like those little ones in Lord of The Rings? (Nerd note: Those are called snaga by the bigger orcs)

Pictured Above: Every Writer Ever

Okay, but really, what am I talking about? I’m talking about that delicate balance every writer has to find between confidence and crushing self-doubt.

A writer has to have confidence in their own work; they have to believe in what they are writing whole heartedly. However, with that confidence has to come the understanding that sometimes you are going to write crap. You need to be able to call yourself on the crap sections, while realizing that not everything you write is terrible. See the dilemma?

Then the balance gets trickier. You have to be to listen to the critiques, evaluate them, and determine which ones work best for you without giving in to over-confidence or self-doubt. If you really think that Billy’s head has to explode EXACTLY like a pumpkin and there is no other way you want to describe it, then you are going to disregard someone else’s advice that perhaps his head not explode. Or maybe you decide that the entire story is horrible because of one bad review. But are you doing that because of your ego or because it’s best for the story?

You have to be confident in your writing, but also be willing to edit, chop and maim your words without doubting yourself, which isn’t to say the doubt ever goes away. I think that finding that balance is one of the most difficult things about writing, and is still something I struggle with.

It’s like being a swing set, one minute you’re in the air, totally confident about everything you’re writing and then the next minute it’s overwhelming self-doubt. Critiques are a lot like whatever is pushing you on that swing. Someone sends you an awesome review and you are going to be soaring in the air. But if someone tears up your work and spits it out bleeding with red ink you’re going to be wallowing in sadness.

The trick is to stop swinging and try to stay on level ground. Yes, get excited if someone really likes your work, and yes, take notice if someone has serious issue with your work, but regardless of who is saying what you need to be confident and steady in your work.

What ways have you fought with/overcome your own ego with writing?

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5 Comments »

  1. Laura W. Said:

    On one hand, having a crushing ego is a good thing—it helps you revise. 🙂 On the other hand, a crushing ego will always assume something is wrong with YOU. Not wrong with the story or with your grammar or even with the reviewer/critiquer, but with YOU. An oversensitive ego takes any criticism to your work as a criticism to you personally. Normal people with this problem have anger management issues. Writers with this problem just get depressed.

    • Oh yes, not taking critiques or bad reviews personally is a big skill to have! Just because someone doesn’t like your work doesn’t mean you have failed as a person. Haha, I love that. Writers do get depression and not rage like most other people!

  2. Chrysoula Said:

    I’m trying combining a crushing ego with a defiant desire to win. I DO take critiques personally (if I decide they’re relevant and indicate a significant flaw), but I’m determined to do better next time!

    Admittedly, ‘fix-it tickets’, where I can make a quick fix and it’s done, just slide off my back.

    • It’s a hard, long process to find that balance. I know I still don’t have it! Someone says something negative and I either get crushed or defensive. I’m improving, but it’s a slow going process.

  3. randallweiss Said:

    Thank God for booze.


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