Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group: It's Never as Good as You Remember

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG is a monthly bloghop where writers can share their doubts, fears and insecurities. In supporting each other, we can then see that we're really not alone. 

You're welcome to join. All you have to do is click here for more info and to sign up.

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As I've been mentioning lately, I'm busy updating (and in a lot of ways, upgrading) my first two books in The War of Six Crowns. Since I'm a bit of a perfectionist, I couldn't leave things at changing the covers and fonts. Oh no, I decided to give the books another proofreading pass. 

After all, it's a well-known fact that mistakes slip through the finest of nets. So it couldn't hurt, right? 

Well. 

I finished reading through The Vanished Knight yesterday with a growing sense of insecurity. Not because it was bad, but because it was good. The characters' voices sing in this story. There's a sort of poetry to the way it's written. 

It's just... amazing. 

Almost to the point where it's shocking to think that I wrote it. 

And Book 3... just isn't on that level. 

And that got me down. 

But then I gave myself a mental slap. 

See, I first published The Vanished Knight in 2013. And before that, I spent two years struggling to get through writing it and the sequel. In fact, it was such a pain in my ass that I almost quit writing altogether. Gasp! I know it's hard to think that I'd seriously contemplate quitting. 

But The Vanished Knight and The Heir's Choice were so hard to write that it damn near convinced me I couldn't write for shit. 

Fortunately, I had a lot of awesome blogging buddies (including you guys in the IWSG) who could talk me down, and I didn't give up. 

After that, The Vanished Knight alone when through over 30 (count them. THIRTY) revision and editing rounds to get it into the shape it's in now. 

And I guess I forgot about all that because one doesn't remember pain. 

But the history is there. 

The struggle was there. 

And expecting myself to draft out the sequel to the books that almost made me quit while expecting it to look like The Vanished Knight looks now is lunacy. 

So this is a reminder.

Don't ever compare your drafts to books that have been published. (Be they your own or someone else's.) 

Those books look so good because of a huge amount of work that went into polishing them. Work that you still need to do, but that you can't do if you're crippled by the idea that you're a bad writer. 

So. 

Stop moping because a book is soooooo much better than yours, and just write yours. Who knows? The book you're working on right now might just be good enough to send someone else moping later. 

Do you get down when comparing the quality of your writing to published works? 

Before you go, the Mni Wiconi Bloghop in support of Standing Rock has been extended to 7 January, if you'd still like to sign up. There are prizes to be won too, so check it out. :-)


13 comments:

The Cynical Sailor said...

Thanks for sharing Misha. Great advice not to judge your drafts against your own finished work or that of others. I'm all to guilty of this at times :-) Cheers - Ellen

Annalisa Crawford said...

Good advice, Misha. My early drafts are terrible - I work hard to make them less so :-)

Chrys Fey said...

Great lesson. Sometimes we do forget all that we went through and put into writing a previous story when we're working on a current WIP. Revising, revising, and revising is how our books become great. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

While my first book needed another round of editing, my later books were better. Funny what hearing them on audio will reveal.
Don't be discouraged. You know there's work to be done and then the third will shine.
Happy 2017!

M.J. Fifield said...

"The book you're working on right now might just be good enough to send someone else moping later." <--- Love that. It made me smile.

I know I've forgotten a lot of the struggle I went through with my first book, and now I'm remembering it while struggling with the second book. It makes me wonder how I'll ever manage a third book, but I will (eventually, some day) because I'll forget.

Hang in there...I know you'll get Book Three where it needs to be.

Crystal Collier said...

Excellent advice. My goal is to make each book better than the last, and so far, it sounds like it's working...but I worry. Will I be able to top the last one? Or am I doomed to crash?

So enough of that. It's a beautiful new year, and we're going to take the world by storm, eh?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Fortunately enough time has passed since my first fiction books that I wouldn't get depressed if I read them. Unless it's depressed by how low the quality compared to what I can do now.

Mark Noce said...

Yes, mental slaps can be very good for all of us:) No one can write the book you're writing, just as no one else can writer the great books we've read on the shelves at the store. All unique, all wonderful...in my humble opinion:)

Juneta Key said...

I agree with many others, good advice. Yeah I always feel my stuff does not live up to expectation especially in comparisons.
Wishing you the best,
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Chemist Ken said...

Hmmm... I like the idea of one of my books sending another writer to moping. Er, wait, that doesn't sound good. I'll just be happy if my story makes me proud that I wrote it.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

The author of Fifty Shades of Grey didn't try to mimic Shakespeare (at least from what I've heard, never read the series myself) and you Misha need to focus on writing and editing your work. Copying the essence of every previous book will drive any writer insane. Glad you're moving forward and all the best.

QueendSheena
2017 IWSG January Co-Host

Loni Townsend said...

I'm totally there with you, or, perhaps, a bit behind you. As I work on my current draft of my book, I wince at my repetitive sentence structure and all around roughness, but that's what editing is for, right?

Ellie Garratt said...

Awesome advice. Early drafts suck compared to finished stories. Keep reminding yourself how amazing you are as a writer!