C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

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Don’t listen to writers too much

The phrase that pays.

Image by pirateyjoe via Flickr

When I first graduated from massage school, I visited new massage therapists all the time. Too often, I didn’t enjoy the experience much. I was too evaluative of each therapist to just lay back and receive the treatment in the spirit in which it was given. I wasn’t concentrating on the feeling of the massage, but on the mechanics. It took me some time to get past that mindset.

You see the same thing with editors sometimes, too. A bad editor jumps straight to corrections too fast without reading for story first. Typos are the last thing you correct in the story construction process. You need to look at the big blocks in the structure first to see how it holds together. Developmental editing always happens before detailed copy editing.

You shouldn’t listen too much to other writers for similar reasons. They see your work through a prism that doesn’t necessarily match ordinary reader expectations.

Writers are great people, but they usually aren’t your market. We sometimes forget that there are a lot of people in the world who have no literary ambitions. They don’t want to write a book. They just want to read a good story.

Writers are readers, but they aren’t typical readers. Writers look at your work differently. Writers are not  the average reader.

Among writers, there is a higher percentage of people who will pick apart your mechanics. Any grammatical variation from what they expected (and there are variations) will provoke more irritation than may be warranted. They will be the readers who skip from irritation at your typos to outrage, indignation and threats to take away your writer’s license and livelihood. Some will want to burn down your house.

Writer friends and editors can help you develop your work, improve and self-publish. But because of the way we are wired, we might not enjoy your work as much as typical readers will.


I’m networked with a lot of great writers who help me a lot. I like them, appreciate them and thank them.

However, you’ll run into some writers who are so competitive, they do not wish you well.

Either through jealousy or the misconception that your success takes something away from them, they want you to fail.

Watch out for the hypercritical, the rabid grammarians, the perfectionists, the haters and snipers. They mistake their subjective taste for law all the time.

By the way, I wish you every success.

Filed under: publishing, Rant, Rejection, writing tips, , , , , , ,

5 Responses

  1. Jess says:

    I have to remind myself of this often, so thank you for this post. I find that I’m rather critical of every published piece of work I read but at one point in my life, I wasn’t! And many people aren’t. This pressure of being judged is a double-edged sword, because at some times, it makes me feel as if I’m not good enough, and at other times, it makes me strive to improve. Finding that in-between is easily said than done, though!

    And as for the bonus, I see that alot with any creative medium and thanks for giving a reason other than jealousy as to why they do this. It upsets me and reminds me of a recent article ( http://bit.ly/pJ19le ) I read about an author whose twitter follower led her on to believe she had been accepted by an agent and publisher. This twitter follower claimed it was all in good fun, but was it really?? I can’t understand the thoughts behind this kind of vicious undermining.

  2. Karen M says:

    Good post! Be careful of the well meaning critic that will always find fault in everything as well. THe ones that can’t celebrate your successes because there is some little detail that you haven’t taken into account. Not that they have done any better!

  3. Chazz says:

    Good points Karen and Jess, and thanks for reading. I think it was Zoe Winter who said some critics get so bent out of shape about the odd typo that she can’t figure out how they get any pleasure from reading at all.

    Or perhaps feeling superior to others, the doers, is the pleasure they find in reading.

    I think I just had an aha moment.

  4. Reena Jacobs says:

    Wonderful post! I know when I first started reviewing as a writer, I wore the exact same hat you mentioned above. In fact, I couldn’t understand how some writers managed to get publish or even make it to the best sellers list with all the telling and flat prose. 🙂 A lot of nerve, right? You’ll see that mentality in my early blog posts.

    It took me a while to allow myself to get lost in a story again. Even so, I’m not the same reader I was before I started writing, and at times, miss the old reader.

    I’m also glad I didn’t let my reading fall to the wayside after taking up writing. I think if I had, I might have continued with the same narrow-minded view I had before, never accepting that readers love stories because of where the book takes them rather than the rigid rules some writers say to follow or else.

    Excellent, EXCELLENT post, Chaz. Very insightful and motivational to writers whom feel closed in by the box other writers try to put them in.

  5. […] Don’t listen to writers too much (chazzwrites.wordpress.com) […]

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