How Serious Are You About Being A Writer?

Isn’t it funny when people ask you for feedback on something they’ve written? I wouldn’t consider myself to be a professional, far from it. I know good writing when I see it but I’m not always entirely sure why it’s good. So telling other people what’s wrong with their stories is often challenging.

Not so long ago I posted about giving feedback to someone close to you. It really can be easier dealing with people you don’t know because you don’t know what their final goal is, what their measure of success is. They might just be writing for fun or they might be preparing a manuscript for a big publisher. It doesn’t really matter; you just want to help each other.

However when you know the person well there’s a good chance you know what their motivations are. Which can make things frustrating because you know all they need to do is practise and work their way up like everyone else. Which they don’t necessarily want to do; they want to get it right now and they’re going to send it off to a publisher who will love it and they will be rich and famous.

And when they don’t get it right the first time they will give up and say it can’t be done. They don’t realise how much you have to work at it even though if it was a different profession like, say accounting, they would be willing to put in the time. 

It’s annoying when you see people effectively making a mockery of what you want to do. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve always taken it seriously, enough to be realistic about my chances of success and how much effort I will need to put in. And it’s even more frustrating when you know that person could be good if they did work at it.

I didn’t say any of this in my feedback. I wanted to encourage them as much as possible so I told them to put the book away for a few months, ignore it completely and work on other things. When they come back to it they will see the mistakes for themselves.

The best advice I could give them, from one amateur to another, was just to write.

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2 thoughts on “How Serious Are You About Being A Writer?

  1. Do you think sometimes not telling someone your honest thoughts on a piece of work can also be harmful? Being able to take criticism and react to it positively is something that will make you a better writer so holding back on crit might not be helpful in the long run. It’s not easy though of course, we’re all really protective of our work. Excellent post by the way.

    • Absolutely, you should always be honest. But this particular person is quite sensitive so a bit more tact is required than usual! I was a bit more elaborate in my feedback than what I’ve posted here and I stressed the point about practicing (probably to the point where they’re thinking “shut up already!”). But I need to encourage them; if I am brutally honest they are likely to either give up or ignore me completely. It’s a delicate situation!
      Thanks for commenting, glad you liked the post!

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