Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IWSG: Good Enough?


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I've read some great stories lately - The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, just to name two. As a reader, I love when I'm on a roll, reading great books - different authors, different genres - one right after the other. As a writer, though, my thoughts turn bleak - will I ever write a novel as compelling as some of my favorites? As entertaining? As creepy? As moving? As memorable? Doubt swirls in, followed by hulking hopelessness. I can usually talk my way through it, but it's sometimes rough going there for awhile.

Do you all ever feel like your own work will never be as good as that of your favorite novels? That you're not as talented as your favorite authors? If so, how do you handle those thoughts? What do you do to feel better, to keep writing, to stay motivated? 

60 comments:

  1. I think we will always hold our favorite of anything to a standard that we see as unattainable, even if that's not the case :)

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  2. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm not as good as my favorite author. But I'll keep trying to maybe get close some day.

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  3. I think we all feel that way from time to time, but it's important to try to look at our favorite books as inspiration rather than something that keeps us from writing because we don't think we'll ever be as good.

    February IWSG Co-host

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    1. I usually manage to think of my favorites as inspiration, but every once in awhile I fall into that "not good enough" funk.

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  4. I do this all the time. I even do it when I read something I don't like! I still keep thinking "I'll never be this good" while I read even when I don't even think the writing is good. I am hopeless LOL.

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    1. Oh, Julie, maybe you are hopeless! (Just kidding, of course!) :)

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  5. Yes! I used to feel that way all the time. Still do.

    Just keep pushing yourself to write and read and learn. You'll get there. And, don't forget, your writing is never as bad as you think it is. ;)

    IWSG #143 until Alex culls the list again.

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    1. Continuing to push myself to write and read and learn is excellent advice, Melissa. It's all about the journey. :)

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  6. I'll bet all those authors you love so much had the same doubts.

    My favorite books aren't in the genre that I write---maybe because I alerady know I can't measure up to them so I don't event try.

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    1. Maybe so!

      I read across genres, but I do tend to read a lot of historical fiction and mystery/thriller/suspense - none of which I write. Interesting....

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  7. YES! And then I analyze what it is I love specifically about their writing and practice imitating those aspects in my WIP. I think one of the biggest challenges for us is being patient with ourselves. We're always developing and growing, and one day we will wake up and realize how far we've come. =)

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    1. Unfortunately, patience - in general, never mind with myself! - has never been one of my virtues. But I'm working on it. :)

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  8. I feel this way with almost every book I read. There will always be something in that book that is better than what I can do. What do I do? I don't read while I'm drafting, lol. Why are we so hard on ourselves?

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    1. Not reading while drafting is probably a good idea but not one I think I could handle. If I don't read, I get cranky. :)

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  9. I know I'm not! I just finished Joe Abercrombie's trilogy and wow, wish I could write that well.

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    1. How can something like wonderful books both inspire us AND bring us down?! Sigh.

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  10. I think all writers feel like that sometimes! I try to look at why I loved reading a particular story and apply those lessons to my own work. It's important to look at our own writing strengths, too!

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    1. Great point, Emma. Figuring out WHY I loved a particular novel will help me put something similar into my own stories, in my own way.

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  11. Yes, I feel that all the time. But I try my very best not to compare myself to them. Try being the keyword lol. I've avoided reading during this set of revisions because I didn't want to feel inadequate as a writer. Sure it can be inspiring . . . but that depends on my mood at the moment, I figured best not to tempt it lol

    Great post! :D

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    1. Good luck with those revisions! And I hear you about it all depending on our moods at the moment. :)

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  12. Ahh, yes! That's how I'm feeling right now actually, and it stinks. Sigh. I don't know how to combat it but I hope I start to feel more confident soon. I hope there's a tender mercy out there that will give me the boost of confidence I need. If you think of something, let me know...

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    1. I will, Kristin, don't worry. All the comments on this post are definitely helping me feel better and not so crazy. :)

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  13. I love reading books that are so compelling, but then I always question my own writing. It's a give and take thing. I guess it's normal for all writers to envy other writer's talents and wonder if ours is good enough.

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  14. I have to push those thoughts to the wayside. They're always going to be there, so I have to keep telling myself I'm good and somebody is waiting for a writer like me. :)

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    1. I love the idea of thinking that there are readers out there waiting for OUR words, OUR stories!

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  15. I try not to worry about holding myself up to my favorite authors. Not because I don't think I can, but because it will only distract me from writing and becoming as skilled as they are.

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    1. Good point about the comparison becoming a distraction from our own improving in the craft.

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  16. It really depends what genre I am reading. I would LOVE to be able to do some of the stuff I see in fantasy or horror, but fear I never will. I sometimes think I measure up on mystery, but other times not so much... it may be that it is an easier genre to publish in so the quality is less consistent.

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    1. I hear you. I'd love to write mystery/suspense/thriller but I'm not sure my mind works that way in terms of plotting, etc. But you never know, right? :)

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  17. Yes! My favorite novel is Atonement by Ian McEwan, though I wouldn't necessarily call him my favorite author. Love that book, but then, I'm not so literary fiction-inclined in my writing, so while I love it, I'm certainly not going to compare my stuff with that book. I'm me and I'm writing my stories.

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  18. I know, I know. I recently read a really good fantasy novel and it made me feel pretty insecure compared to my own fantasy novels. I just keep going and doing the best I can.

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    1. I think that's the trick - keep going and doing the best we can. Quitting is NOT an option. :)

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  19. I know that feeling. Though I also feel that most people who invest deeply in their writing can nurture their writing style and voice into something great too.

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    1. Investing deeply in our writing, nurturing it is so incredibly important. That's how we become better, become OUR best.

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  20. I know that if it isn't good enough (meaning you haven't done your best) then it's not done yet. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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  21. I frequently have that moment, usually about a specific thing. I'll never be able to form words together as beautifully as this person. Or I'll never be able to make my characters as well drawn as this person. So on and so forth. There are some writers that blow me away, and I know I can aspire to it, but I'll probably never reach the level they've reached with that particular element that caught me. But maybe I'll do something else better? Who knows.

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    1. I love that idea of possibly doing something else better. :)

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  22. Yep, I feel it all the time, but I love writing and storytelling so I keep going.

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  23. Hi Madeline, did you read my mind while writing this post? Because I always have that panic moment when I read a brilliant book, then I worry if I will ever write like that and have my so called doubts troubling me. It takes me some time to shake the doubts and worries off.

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    1. I think as long as we do manage to shake off those doubts, we'll be okay.

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  24. If I start to think like that, I mentally slap myself. I've always read interviews with some of my favourite authors who allude to their own insecurities. So if they feel like that, it must be normal, and it must be helpful in making yourself try even harder!

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    1. Great comment, Annalisa! I'm going to mentally slap myself the next time I start giving in to those fears. :)

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  25. I struggle with that, too. To get over it, I either just start writing and hoping it will get better, or . . . in the case of one author I like, I happen to have one of his first books that isn't as brilliant, and I remind myself that his writing became better with each book, so mine can too. :)
    Best wishes with your writing, Madeline!

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    1. Great attitude, Tyrean! Seeing how our favorite authors' work grew and improved is definitely inspiring.

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  26. Yes, all the time. I sometimes think I can't write and go searching for complements. I know....vanity, vanity. Dare I want to write like the greats, the ones I admire? Why not? My husband is usually a reliable source for complements. He knows when I need one, but he's also honest with me too. Sometimes you need to know when the writing fails. (Really want to read The Girl on the Train) Thanks for the encouragement at my blog!

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    1. My husband is the same way. :)

      I totally recommend THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN!

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  27. I have my favorite authors and after reading something so awesome, I feel a little sick about my own attempts at story making.

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    1. It appears we're not alone in having that sick feeling. Sigh.

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  28. I do get those feelings from time to time. And then I reread my book, and find I'm still entertained by it. It uplifts my spirits and that's what counts, right?

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  29. i say we're all just different! i will never be literary, i write adventures that warm the heart! theyre quick reads, but that seems to be what some folks need these days. we all have a niche to build fans from =)

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    1. Really good point about niches and building a fan base. :)

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  30. I do feel that way. Elizabeth Berg is a perfect example. The woman could make a used tissue sound like the most beautiful thing in the world.

    The way I get past these feelings of inadequacy is to remind myself that I have my own voice and my own talents. I don't necessarily make the ordinary extraordinary, as Elizabeth does, but I bet she's never given anyone nightmares with one of her stories. ;)

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    1. You're absolutely right about us all having our own voices and talents, and we should focus on those as much as possible.

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