Seven Writing Sins: Pride

I’ve backed up more miles than you’ve driven forward.

This is one of my DH’s favorite phrases.  Admittedly, he’s put in his time behind the wheel.  However, the other day he did something while driving that almost made me wet myself. 

We were driving by my house (business, not separate residence) to see how the new floor was coming along.  The flooring guys were on the front porch cutting a piece of subfloor.  DH rubbernecked to the point that he ran into the curb. 

Note to self: driving tons of miles doth not mean perfection behind the wheel.

THE SIN: PRIDE

Riding in the passenger seat with envy is pride.  Often, we justify our lack of perfection in one area by boasting about our abilities in another.  Even if we keep our boasts to ourselves, they can be just as damaging when it comes to writing.

  1. Do not read a book and say, “If Author Moron Badwriter got published so can I.”  Obviously AMB has worked hard at doing something right, and the only way we can follow in his footsteps is to also do something right.  Like write a good book.
  2. Do not read a book and say, “Author Moron Badwriter’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Book sold through, therefore my novel will need a double print run.”  The market is fickle.  What appeals to some will not appeal to others.  The more we brag, the harder it will be when we don’t succeed.
  3. Do not read a book and proclaim your writing better.  While you may be right, this does not automatically induct you into the published crowd.  There is sooooo much that goes into the publication of a book that “better writing” may not always win out. 
  4. Don’t forget that publishing is full of variables.  Writing, market, reader tastes, movie trends, moral shifts, moons aligning, rubbernecking…. 

When we get sidetracked from our goal by checking out the scenery (comparing our work to others and deeming it superior), we are in serious danger of hitting the curb.

Note to writers: agents and editors hate writers who are full of themselves.  Confident, yes.  Prideful, no.  At least that’s what I’ve been hearing around town.

What kinds of things make you feel prideful in your work?  What kinds of things humble you?  Have you ever hit the curb?  If so, how did you get back on track?

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17 responses to “Seven Writing Sins: Pride

  1. I tend to be fairly critical of published books but I don’t think of my writing as better. I’m aware of my own weaknesses as a writer and that I have a lot to learn. That said, I’ll probably continue to declare books absolute rubbish and be critical of clunky prose and poor description. Certainly wooden characters will always draw my critical eye.
    As far as humbling moments, and this one I was waiting for and expecting, I think being told there were two typos in the final copy of my book kind of did it for me. Even after all of the editing processes, there they were.

    • Yikes. It happens and even the best editors will miss typos after reading and rereading.

      It is a great lesson for us on the other end. Judge not, lest we be judged ourselves.

      I’m sure your book is amazing even with two tiny little typos.

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  3. “I’ve back up more miles than you’ve driven forward.” Lol, I’ve never heard anyone say that before, but it sounds like such a guy thing to say.

    Pride…I’m really fickle about this, I have picked up books and thrown down in frustration at how bad they are…but I’ve also almost come to tears at how bad I think my own writing is. My boyfriend has told me I am always in internal conflict with myself and my writing is no exception. While one side of me says you can do it, the other part is saying this isn’t even as good as author moron badwriter. A little pride is fine, but too much is just as detrimental as not having any.

    Oh, I’m going to laughing about the quote for the rest of the day. So thanks for starting my day with a smile ;p

  4. See my post on envy. Just kidding. I do find that there are books whose authors I love and want to grow up to be like, moreso than thinking I’m better than so and so. I figure that so and so is a published author, so they are obviously doing something right. My time will come, if I hang in there with it and persist. 🙂

    • Lisa,

      I’m with you on the “when I grow up” thing. If I could be Suzanne Collins’ little sister I would!

      You will hang in there. Even if I have to pin you to the clothes line!

  5. I am humbled by it all! No matter what book I read, I view it as a learning experience. What worked? How did the author hold my interest? I have so much to learn…

    • Julie,

      Thanks so much for joining us here. More so for commenting. It is humbling when we know how much goes into a printed copy of a book.

      And don’t fret. We all have tons to learn. Even experienced writers should be learning every day.

      Because when we quit learning, we have learned to quit living.

      Hugs and I’ll check out your site when I get back!

  6. I love this post! So many people read a book and say, “I can do better, darn it!” And then when you sit down to try, you see how hard it is. Most books are an author’s best effort after criticism and critique at every level of publishing. Just remembering just how much sweat goes into a manuscript helps you have a healthy respect for for each published (and unpublished) word you read.

    Thank you for the reminder. Wonderful post.

    • Kate, great point. We do need to remember that our efforts are no more or no less valid than someone else’s. They are simply ours and we need to give credit for the work an author put into their work. Because until we are published and out there, we are still not to their level yet.

      hugs

  7. We can emulate others, but comparison is a killer. We always have to be unique, or what’s the point really? It’s like cheating with homework.

    I followed a twitter link from Julie Musil. I’m just saying hi.

    • Simon, you are the master of a perfect quote here. “It’s like cheating with homework.” What is the point if we cheat ourselves out of an experience?

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ll check out your blog when I get back home. I always appreciate new faces and new friends. Take care.

  8. I think it’s easy to be prideful when you finish your first manuscript, because you’re excited to have actually written a novel, but you don’t know enough to realize how much work it still needs.

    I was so ignorant about publishing when writing my first MS that I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a query letter. I figured there was a process to pursue publishing, but wanted to finish the book before I started jumping into all that. I’m glad that I waited, actually, because if I’d known when writing it that the odds of getting published were so terrible, it might have discouraged me.

    • Layinda,

      The odds definitely do not engender motivation! We were/are all ignorant to the writing business. Just some less so than others in regards to certain things at certain moments.

      In other words, you’re not alone in your boat. The good news is that together, we can paddle somewhere amazing!

  9. Hmmm, this is an interesting question! I feel proud when I reach my daily and weekly writing goals. I feel proud when I compare a story I wrote last year with one I wrote this year and see a definite improvement. I feel proud when someone asks me to edit or proofread something for them.

    Things that humble me: rejection letters/emails. If that doesn’t humble a writer, nothing will! With every rejection, I know I must keep plugging along and practice my writing.

    • Laura,

      The whole writing process is filled with moments of pride and joy interspersed with moments of humble rejection.

      That’s part of the journey that I love. It is never the same two days in a row.

      Thanks for the great input!

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