Lesson 1: Get Over It

Lesson 1: Get Over It

A Lesson by J.S. Wayne

So you want to be the best writer you can be? It doesn't happen overnight...


So you finally made that terrifying, wnderful leap.  You've decided that you're a writer, d****t, and the world should know about it.  Good on you.  Despite what certain naysayers and sour-grape purveyors may say, there is still plenty of room on the average bookshelf for one more stirring new voice.

But now that you've decided to do that, HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

The first lesson is the simplest, but the hardest: You have to get over your fear of failure.

What fear?  You may ask.  I don't have any fear.

Folks, I like my Anglo-Saxon nouns, verbs, and adjectives, so be clear on that right now...or get somewhere else.  I tell you that to answer the question you just posed.


I'm afraid to fail.  You're afraid to fail.  We're both equally afraid that our work will languish in a dusty notebook or a hard drive somewhere until Hell holds High Mass.  And we're writers, to boot, which means that for all our bluff and bluster, and all bullshit aside, the skin around our egos is about one hydrogen atom thick.  The smallest kind word elevates us to Heaven; the vaguest hint of criticism condemns us to a Plutonian funk for days at a time.

So how do we combat it?

The first rule is, put yourself out there.  Find every writing site you can and put your work out; ASK for critique.  Tell people you DO NOT want glowing reviews; tell them you want the brutal truth.  If the results send you scrambling for a bottle of Scotch and thence under your covers with thoughts of slitting your wrists, take a breath.

Then take a look at your keyboard.  Chances are it's a regular QWERTY configuration.  If not, it's probably Dvorak.  You will notice the letters A-Z, the numbers 1-0, and a confounding array of little squiggles, icons, symbols, and master keys such as Escape and the F-series keys. 

Do you see the Poe key?  The Hemingway key?  The King key?


That's because they aren't there!!!

You have only a finite amount of letters, numbers, and symbols with which to get your point across.  How you combine those elements are your straw, from which you will form the bricks of your letters.  From the bricks, you will then build cities, in the form of poems, stories, and even full novels.  But every book you've ever read, bought, or thought about acquiring started with those elements and nothing more. 

It's up to you to put them together in a pleasing way.  It's your job as a writer to construct a story people will want to read.  If YOU want to read it, odds are that someone else out there will too.  But you can't please everyone.

GET OVER IT!  Take the positive and enjoy it; take the negative and put it aside.  Imagine the putrid looks on the faces of the naysayers when you're at the top of the NYT Bestseller List, winning the Stoker Award, or gleefully accepting the Hugo. 

Is it easy?  Certainly not.  Is it worth it?  Yes. 

You're not going to please everyone; not every person who reads your story, poem, or manuscript will be a fan.  So what?  Do you like every single thing you ever read?  Probably not, and if you do, your library is almost certainly fairly limited.  The idea is to write what YOU like, in a way that will make others want to read it too.  More on that later.  But the first step is to understand that negative criticism has its place too.






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Posted 6 Years Ago

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Posted 8 Years Ago

=D A great start to a course. Well written, clear, to the point and honest! You've given a starting step onto a very difficult path that we choose to attempt. I can't remember the exact numbers but if I remember correctly Steven King was rejected by 16 agents. I swore Pratchett and Tolkein were rejected by a good number too. You just have to dig your heels in and remember dreams are worth fighting for.
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Added on January 25, 2011
Last Updated on January 25, 2011

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J.S. Wayne
J.S. Wayne


J. S. Wayne has lived, worked, or traveled in approximately two thirds of the United States, and has amassed a resume that could kindly be described as “eclectic.” He currently resides in ..