#IWSG – What if It’s Not as Bad (or as Good) as You Think?


For my first post for the IWSG, I’ll talk about 2 problems amateur writers face pretty much always:

#1 – What if it sucks?

It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? You’ve spent hours upon hours on a piece, but you’re afraid to share. It doesn’t much matter how often you’ve written, how many pieces you’ve published. What if it sucks donkey gonads? What if everyone says my writing reeks like rotting carcasses? 

#2 – My friends like it, that’s enough, isn’t it?

Insecure writers know #1 all to well. But wait, there’s more! The flip-side – you’ve got a good story you’ve just finished. You’ve had some friends read it, and they liked it! What more do I need? I like it, somebody else likes it, it’s great! No more changes – time to GET IT OUT THERE!

I’ve talked before about the need to share, share, share that drives me, and how I always wonder if I’ve done enough revision before the first release to the public. I started this blog by saying “Screw problem #1 – I’m just going to share!” Very little of the writing I first posted was peer-reviewed. You can tell, if you dare to click through my archives…

A lot of what I share and submit now shows signs of #2 – stories that I’ve run past a few close people, but really just wanted to shoot out there. I need feedback from readers on the net, after all. As I’m discovering, the problem with giving in to #2 is I end up with stories that very few people comment on or even acknowledge.

So when is a story good enough? How do I know it doesn’t suck?

Here are my own ideas, based on my admittedly limited experience and understanding:

1. Trial and error is better than sitting on stories too long.

One bad piece isn’t going to kill a writing career. Far from it – Bradbury submitted a bazillion works, and he didn’t worry too much about quality at the start. He also pointed out that anybody who writes 52 works a year pretty much HAS TO produce something good among that much output. No way will I get out 52 pieces a year, but 12 is very doable. It’ll be slower, but I won’t be neglecting family and job obligations either.

2. Review and critique regularly.

You must review and critique, especially in the genres of stories you like to write. This has the side effect of ensuring that you are READING, and it gets you thinking about the analysis and synthesis required for story-crafting.

3. Set nasty deadlines and hold yourself to them.

If you blog (and writers should, these days), hold yourself to one post a week, at least. Decide which day of the week. Post a notice in big letters at the top of your blog – “UPDATES EVERY WEDNESDAY”or whatever day you decide. There. You are obliged. People will be ANGRY and storm your e-mail inbox with cyber-torches and pitchforks if you don’t post!

Set a due date for your writing – I know I can’t do one story per week, but I CAN do one every month. The last day of the month is my big scary due date – I have to finish a piece of flash fiction or a short story, show it to people, revise it, AND submit, all BEFORE the end of the month! I give myself 2 weeks to write, 1 week to share, 1 week to revise, and then it’s out there, either as a blog post or as a submission to a short fiction publisher.

I go through this no matter how badly I think the story sucks. I go through this even if my ego is acting up and is absolutely convinced the story is the next freaking Shakespeare sonnet. Do I still have stories that suck? Oh hells yes. Do I still overestimate the quality of my work? Shyeah, my ego can get abnormally huge when I’ve fallen head-over-heals for a story idea. But holding myself to the steps and the schedule seems to be helping. I’m but an egg, so time will tell!


Okay, time for your hints. How do you make sure you don’t underestimate or overestimate your stories’ qualities?

5 comments on “#IWSG – What if It’s Not as Bad (or as Good) as You Think?

  1. Elizabeth Seckman says:

    Welcome to the IWSG!!! I think you’ve got a pretty good process set up. What can I add you haven’t covered? Just don’t give up. Ignore the naysayers. Only the quitters fail.

  2. Hi there and welcome to IWSG 😀 Sorry for commenting through FB, but WordPress doesn’t play well in the sandbox with Blogger. So, my blog is cfitewrite.blogspot.com if your curious.

    Even though it makes me anxious, getting my work critiqued is the best way to know if it sucks or not. I always love my writing. But often I’m too close to the story. I miss things or don’t give enough detail. I need others to read it and tell me where it lacks luster. Honest beta readers are the best. 🙂

  3. Excellent first post for IWSG. Welcome aboard!

  4. Pat Hatt says:

    Never fear if it sucks, even the crappiest thing ever will have fans and the best thing ever will have haters, write for you and things will come due

  5. Birgit says:

    I don’t consider myself a writer although I have written poems and short stories but I mainly write a little snippet about what I think or saw or did plus I create cards:) Fear can be the worst inhibitor of creativity as we hate rejection and people also can smell fear and bully which doesn’t help. Rise above and you will write and get things published. The story of Kubla Khan(spelling??) was written after a drug addled dream and it is amazing. Good luck to the dream diary too. I did this but had to stop as it was changing my sleep so much that I could not get a good sleep. Weird but true. Lucid dreaming, bright lights and all that jazz. My proff(many moons ago) told me to stop as it was affecting me too much(Altered States of being class)

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