Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

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Writing—So Easy a Caveman Can Do It

Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea
Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea

Recently a Facebook friend shared a post with me regarding Indie Musicians versus Indie Authors. It appears our culture has a fascination and reverence for the Indie Musician whereas Indie Authors face an immediate stigma. We authors have to continually prove ourselves, whereas musicians don’t (at least not in the same way). My friend seemed perplexed, but to me it’s very simple.

We’re not even going to address the flood of “bad” books. Many writers rush to publish before they’re ready, don’t secure proper editing, etc. But I feel the issue is deeper and it reflects one of the many challenges authors face and always will.

People give automatic respect to a musician because not everyone can play an instrument or sing. Simple. It’s clear that artist can do something many cannot.

As writers, we have an insidious enemy. People believe what we do is easy. If we are good writers, we make it look effortless. I recall being a kid watching the Olympics. The gymnasts made those handsprings look like nothing. Being four years old, I dove in…and broke my arm…twice (because I’m an overachiever that way).

The blunt truth is everyone has a story to tell. They do. Every life can be fascinating in the hands of a skilled author. Every idea can be masterful in the hands of a wordsmith. Ah, but the general public assumption is that the only thing standing between them and being J.K. Rowling is merely sitting down and finishing the story. Many believe that, because they’re literate and have command of their native language that they can do what we do.

Geiko Caveman.
Geiko Caveman.

Of course, this isn’t the case (as we know all too well). A trained author draws the reader into a world of magic where the audience doesn’t notice the wires and mirrors, only the floating woman. We blend plot arc and character arc to drive tension.

We must develop layered, dimensional “people” and blend in setting and world-building where it’s so integrated it’s probably unnoticed. In fact, if people do notice, likely that section needs edit. Great dialogue is a skill. Subtext, theme, and on and on.

Readers generally don’t appreciate how we’ve done this, they only know we’ve created this magic when they get lost in the book, when they can find no “good” place for a bookmark. This is one of the reasons I strongly caution novelists starting “writing blogs.”

Readers don’t care about structure, POV, word echoes, verb issues, or formatting unless we screw them up. Only other writers care about how we use our tools. Readers care about the finished product.

Why Do I Mention This?

Most of us will face mass opposition when making the decision to write for a living. People see so much writing all around them, they take it for granted.

Many years ago, I got my start as a technical writer and copy writer/editor. I remember an acquaintance making a snarky comment about how there was no money in writing and essentially it was all foolishness (he was a stock broker). I’d finally grown enough of a spine that I stood up to him.

Me: You watch movies and television I assume.

Jerk: Of course.

Me: And when you’re learning a software program, I assume you use the Help tools.

Jerk: Yes *strange face*

Me: And magazines? Articles? The news? I assume you enjoy those too.

Jerk: *getting quiet*

Me: Then there are commercials, textbooks and the Internet. I’d wager you use Google.

Jerk: What are you saying?

Me: Last I checked, the Internet involved a lot of words. No writing, and the Internet is just a super expensive picture book. And, perhaps I’m out of line, but I’d imagine someone wrote the screenplays to the shows and movies you enjoy. I can’t see Hollywood paying a hundred million dollars for actors to just “riff.” Someone wrote the instructions to put together your computer desk and wrote those textbooks you used to train you for your career. And I’d even go so far as to say someone wrote those novels you enjoy and the magazine and news articles you consume regularly. 

Jerk: *silence*

Humans have been so spoiled with writing for so many centuries, they frequently dismiss it. Centuries ago there was far more reverence for the writer, but this was in the days when most people were illiterate. Only a handful of special people had the time, money, education to write (or read).

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht

The wonderful side of public education and widespread literacy is this means more readers. Yes, those early authors were legends, but most of us would cry if we had the same book sales. There was no such thing as selling millions of books.

Of course the dark side is that humans have a tendency to take things for granted. We all do it. We assume if we paid our bill, we’ll have power. If we call 911, someone will answer. If the roads are a mess, someone will repair them. And writing? Everyone can do that.

It’s easy.

Stand Firm to the Truth

We know what we do is anything but easy, but we must be vigilant against this widespread perception or it will lead to self-doubt, giving up, being hypercritical of our own work, or seeking to please everyone with our story.

Those of you who’ve followed this blog know I have a thing for little “sayings.” Often I put them on Post-It Notes to remind me. One of my go-to phrases is, If you cannot defeat them, distract them. 

I’ve been in writing groups where the writer took every last comment/criticism as if it were gospel. When we are new, most of us lack confidence. This can lead to the Book-By-Committee. We keep changing the plot, the characters, the dialogue because one person frowned (and we didn’t realize they merely had gas).

I’m 20,000 words into Book Two of a trilogy. I sent the first book out to trusted beta readers. Every beta reader loved the book…save one. Characters all the other readers enjoyed, the one beta despised. The main group loved the description, the human flaws, the layers of complex plot. The critical beta recommended tearing down and starting over.

Now, in “The Old Days” I would have ignored what nine people said to please ONE. I’d have cried and indulged in gratuitous self-pity and believed I could never write a novel. Woe is me. I’d have trashed the book and started over.

Now? Pfft. I have rhino skin. I’m beyond the point where I need hand-holding and ego-stroking (blogging will beat that out of you).

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Paul Hudson
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Paul Hudson

Are all this one beta’s comments bad or utterly misguided? Not at all. I took the detailed notes the beta gave and sent them to those who loved the book. I genuinely wanted the truth. “Hey, did you guys feel/see any of these things? Is a total rewrite something I should consider? I think many of the ‘problems’ can be fixed with a handful of sentences. But, if I need a complete tear-down, now is the time to tell me.”

I’ve written the Book-By-Committee and it is an ugly beast that pleases no one.

I recently picked up a piece of my early writing that was slayed by a well-meaning critique group. As a more mature writer and editor, I saw that they’d benevolently edited the life out of my work. They were injecting their genre, preferences, and voice onto my work. And I eagerly gobbled it down and rendered a solid piece of writing a soulless Frankenstein mess.

I used to be a pretty good novella.
I used to be a pretty good novella.

Critique and editing are critical, but we must handle with care. First, we need thick skin. Professionals should not have to be coddled and handheld. We can offer a thoughtful, articulated defense as to why we made certain decisions, but this is different from being defensive. One is the product of confidence and the other is the Goo of Doubt.

If all ten beta readers saw the same thing? Houston, we have a problem. One? I still should listen, but with care. If I don’t, I risk overworking a book trying to attain the unattainable—perfection.

I actually found it funny how this experience elucidated points I’ve been making lately. We can NEVER write a book everyone loves. We can’t. It was almost laughable looking at my edits. Lines of dialogue the others highlighted with “LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!” were the same lines the critical beta advised I delete.

But, this is why we must stand firm and remain true. I could cry and go back and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and I will still have at least one person (likely more) who doesn’t like final product. This is why we must learn to keep pressing forward and ship.

Learn the Art of Discernment

Being a professional author cannot be a democracy where everyone has an equal vote (unless you just want to go crazy). In ways, we have to be more of a benevolent dictatorship. Learn to say, “I hear your concerns and I’ll take them under advisement.” Why? Because everyone has opinions and advice, but only we will live with the consequences.

Remember, If you cannot defeat them, distract them. Trying to write the book that all demographics will love is a fruitless endeavor. It’s a distraction which will lead to defeat. Keep writing. Failure isn’t bad, it’s the tuition we pay for success. Understand that the world can believe what we do is easy, but they have a right to be wrong. We know better. Choose which voices to listen to. Part of maturity is learning the art of discernment.

Be brave enough to hand your work to someone who might hate it. The one beta who didn’t like my book? Doesn’t read this genre, hates description and has vastly different preferences than I do for pleasure reading. I knew I’d get my literary @$$ handed to me when I passed it over. BUT, this beta picked up on things the others missed 😉 .

Maybe I’m unwilling to completely burn the book to the ground and start over, but that doesn’t mean this beta didn’t point out areas that people who LOVE the genre missed. Areas that WILL make a far stronger book. Surrounding ourselves with yes-men doesn’t inspire growth. This is why rhino skin is SO valuable.

We can hand our work to someone we suspect will HATE it. But then we can sift through all the commentary and search for diamonds. If we’re too sensitive, we might miss that ONE comment that takes the book to a whole new level. Okay, this beta reader wanted to shoot 330 pages out of 331 in the face, BUT on Page 287? That’s a great point.

***And I am being hyperbolic. We should seek out those who will give our book the trial of fire, but we don’t have to hand it to people who will destroy our will to ever write again.***

Learn to select what applies and leave the rest on the table. Criticism, opinions and advice are like a giant buffet. We select what to put on our plate, then later we choose what we gobble down or throw away. This is true in writing and in life.

People might believe writers are all starving, broke deadbeats chain-smoking outside of coffee bars when they aren’t writing bad poetry. They have the right to be wrong. People can believe what we do is easy. Hey, it means we are doing our jobs well. Others will criticize, but we choose whether that drives us or distracts us.

And a BONUS FRIDAY FUNNY. Since we were talking about how humans naturally take so many things for granted, I hope you’ll take three minutes to reach out and help a person suffering with FWP:

What are your thoughts? Do you find that public perception that what we do is “easy” infects your attitude? Maybe it makes you insecure or overly self-critical? Have you struggled with critique, found yourself trying to please everyone? Did you make a mess out of your art? Have you learned discernment? Which voices to ignore? Are you brave enough to hand your book to someone you know will hate it in hope you can harvest that one good point? Or do you want to be a world-famous writer….so long as no one knows your real name and what you look like? 😀

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less)

For a LONG-TERM plan for a fit, healthy platform, please check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World

321 thoughts on “Writing—So Easy a Caveman Can Do It”

  1. Michalea MooreMichalea Moore

    Excellent post. By profession (as in how I make a lot money), I am a technical writer. So many people (developers, testers, managers) tell us that technical writing is easy BECAUSE anybody can write if they just have the time. I have been known to show them examples of what they wrote that no one can understand 🙂

    Having this experience in my background has helped me develop rhino skin. If I hear something only from one person, I’ll take it under consideration if it’s not totally off the wall. If I hear it from 3 people, there IS a problem, maybe not the problem they point out, but definitely a problem.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      I can always tell technical writing done by an engineer *head desk*. When I used to interview for contracts, they’d ask why they should hire me. My answer was, “I speak fluent ‘Engineer’ and can translate.” LOL

  2. Tam FrancisTam Francis

    My husband and I were talking about this the other day. He thought the process of self-producing an album similar to self-publishing. He cited several band who he’d found online and sent them a check for a self-produced CD, then a couple years later they’d made it big. Not all of them do, just like not all of the self-pub authors do, but I thought it an optimistic analagy.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with your approach to beta readers. If the majority point out the same things, it’s a flaw and needs to be fixed, if Goober McMonstersauce doesn’t like the world choice, that’s just him 🙂 I loved this post on so many levels. Thanks for giving me confidence that I’m on the right path!

  3. TomTom

    Writing’s easy? (raises hand meekly) I keep the first “novel” I wrote to remind me of how difficult it really is. When you’re 30k into your WIP and you realize that not even you would read it, you start to figure it out. It’s a craft that requires dedication to learning.

    And I loved the FWP video!

  4. CKoeppCKoepp

    So /many/ good points here. When I first joined a critique group, I hung on every word and whatever they said needed changing I changed. When I went to publish, my editors were not always amused.

  5. Alan TuckerAlan Tucker

    So wonderful when someone echoes things I’ve been saying for years 😉 The indie musician vs indie writer conundrum is spot on. Singing and writing, however, are relatively similar. I know a LOT of people who think they can sing and don’t understand why people cover their ears and run the other direction when they open their mouths. There are many writers out there like this too.

    Be aware of your surroundings. As you point out in the post, if one in ten betas has issues with something you wrote, examine it carefully, but don’t feel bad if you end up ignoring the advice. But four, five, or six in ten? You better take a long hard look at what they have to say.

    Wonderful post!

  6. Ruth Hartman BergeRuth Hartman Berge

    Great post and so true!

    I belong to a critique group led by a professional editor and author of 25 published books. I’m fortunate to have this woman as a mentor. Early in our relationship I told her not to spare my feelings, that I was here to learn the craft and even if she felt a criticism was brutal, lay it on me. She’s done that–but always in the kindest way possible. In the two years I’ve been working with her, my writing has improved immensely and I’ve just received my first contract on my first book from the first publisher I sent it to.

    For the new members in our critique group, I ALWAYS explain my preference before the critiques start and let them know that I’ve ASKED for the brutal truth because I wanted to be a published, professional author. I listen to all of the critiques and take everything in, but the final decision is mine. I’m the only one who writes with my voice and whatever changes they suggest are run through the gauntlet before the change appears in the manuscript.

    I’m proud of the rhino skin and I highly recommend it!

  7. cynthiagrstaceycynthiagrstacey

    I think I have a baby rhino’s skin. Tough but not quite oblivious to the negative. It’s getting there though. Awesome post Kristen and just what I needed today. Can’t please everyone.
    Will reblog this post to inspire others. 🙂

  8. Elke FeuerElke Feuer

    Excellent post, Kristen! Most people I meet think what I do is easy, and tell me they have a story they’d like to write or that they’ve written. It’s amazing how their stories change when I invite them to my writing group and offer to give them helpful resources.

    Occasionally I get readers who truly appreciate, understand, and love what writers do. I live for those moments.

    Shifting through the feedback can be challenging, both from beta readers and editors, and keeping true to your voice and story.

  9. Charlie SheldonCharlie Sheldon

    Scares me to be commenting in such distinguished company, but as a newbie to all this blog and comment stuff – http://charliesheldon2.wordpress.com/ – and a recent attendee to the AWP conference in my home town of Seattle, this anti-social dinosaur has reluctantly started to try to enter the modern age and find a writer’s community near and or far for criticism, support, and understanding. My thought on your subject is that there is a contradiction going on, here. On the one hand it seems writing has, for everyone, begun to lose rules of style and grammar, yet at the same time with the Internet it has become so easy for people to write. It used to be when I was in school, long ago, typing was a rare skill once out of school classes, yet now everyone does it to blog, post, IM. So there are millions more writers, millions more books and with self publishing more words out there than ever before. It’s now easy to write stuff, publish stuff, so of course people will think writing is easy. Of course it is not. At least for me, it is not.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Everyone can write, but it soon becomes clear not everyone does it well. If we write a great blog/book, whatever, we can gain quite a loyal following because we can be the island of awesome in a sea of inadequate.

      • Charlie SheldonCharlie Sheldon

        Thanks for answering! I will do my best – my blog is four days old so I am just starting out, and hoping to get some good discussions going. I agree with you, totally, and I am trying to do it well, using subjects of interest to me and hopefully others, but we shall see. Let’s see I have sea stories, the Olympic Peninsula, human origins, dowsing, and, oh, that’s right. Writing….

  10. saosao

    Well, I have to admit I started out writing a Harlequin because I figured it would be easy. On the other hand, after getting rejected, I bought some books, joined a critique group and started to learn how to write. And I liked Harlequins, unlike some people who figure they can write a better one because they are smart and HQNs are dumb.

    I had a few critiques by people who didn’t understand my sense of humor and edited out any irony or sarcasm, leaving my snarky MC sounding so bland she bored me. And I had critiques that suggested that my vocabulary was too advanced — not for the critiquer, who understood every word, but for the presumed reader. (Now that’s a nice attitude to have, we writers are smart, but you readers are of limited education and intellect).

    I’ve come to the conclusion that picking over language is not all that helpful. Yes, if you struggle to understand what’s being said, you need to note it, but if you’re just refining phrasing, DON’T. What matters more is plot and characterization.

    • Janet Walden-WestJanet Walden-West

      Wow. I think we had the same crit group. Any level of sarcasm was a no-no and I got a note about it being “unnecessary to show off with large words”. To be clear, there was one technical term in twelve pages 🙂

      • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

        I once made a reference to “The Blob” and every member edited it out because “some people might not get the reference.” My attitude? Well, then they are STUPID people thus not my audience. COME ON! I am not writing for people who live under rocks.

  11. allensrepositoryofstuffallensrepositoryofstuff

    As a freelance editor I have seen plenty of clients that come to me after they have published a book (usually an e-book, but not always). Usually from the reviews, they realize that the book was not quite ready. Regrettably once the book is out there in some form fixing it and attempting to convince readers to give it a second chance is nearly impossible.

    I notice that a lot of the hopeful authors might have a favorite relative “edit” the book. They are amazed when I point out the errors. Most indie authors are not aware of the Chicago Manual of Style or any other guide book for publications.

    I spend a lot of time attempting to educate hopeful authors why professional editing is so important. My guild is a good source of professional editors. Another shocker for the hopeful author is the cost of professional editing. A guild member editor may cost more than a nonmember but your chance of getting a professional edit better.

    The best thing that an author can develop is a thick skin. Not everyone is going to love your book. Some people are going to make cruel and snide remarks about your writing and anything else they feel obliged to smear. A problem with the internet is the anonymity people believe it gives them to say things without repercussion.

    For the author, the reviews can be painful but they can also be quite frank and helpful. If you are able to get past your wounded pride, you can use even those awful reviews to inspire you to write better. I realized that I could not write dialogue, thanks to some flaming reviews, so I set out to write a story that had a lot of dialogue to improve my skill.

  12. ffflip2014ffflip2014

    You are amazing, I read devour blog as I do a great book. You truly do keep me inspired. In a world of self told time limits, and no alarm clocks, you keep me feeling motivated and fresh.
    Thank you Kristen!

  13. Rory Ni CoileainRory Ni Coileain

    I learned this lesson the VERY hard way. I graduated from college at the age of 19, over 30 years ago, with a newly-minted Creative Writing degree, and the first thing I did was send off a short story to an anthology series edited by an author I absolutely idolized. (I stopped short of the little shrine in the bedroom with a candle and flowers thing, but only just.) She sent it back with a rejection letter that was absolutely scathing. Among her other comments was the little gem that she couldn’t for the life of her understand why someone who wrote as badly as I did even wanted to think of herself as a writer. And at 19, I not only lacked rhino skin, I lacked any skin whatsoever. I limped away from my dream, and didn’t pick it up again until three years ago. Now, four novels and a novella to the good, I can thumb my nose at my long-ago nemesis’ ghost. But I can’t help but wonder, sometimes, what life would have been like if I’d been capable of picking myself up, dusting myself off, and moving on…

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      WOW. OUCH. What a jerk. I have been called The Death Star. But people who get my edits, I offer them a setting: STUN, BLAST or KILL. If they are new and need a bit more coddling, I do that, though I still am a tough cookie. But if they are ready to cut through the glitter and set that bad-boy on KILL? Bring it! But, you’ve lived a lot of life in between so you get Experience Points that will make your writing all the richer ((HUGS)) and KUDOS for returning to your dream.

    • Leigh W. SmithLeigh W. Smith

      Rory, I’m wondering your thoughts on whether she sent you the scathing letter to encourage you to not give up and to develop the elephant’s or rhino’s skin (kind of a reverse-psychology, tough-love kind of thing, I guess). Even if she didn’t and was genuinely mean–I hate to hear that; as a former little literary journal editor, I know I received some odd submissions, sometimes in crayon even, but I’m not the kind of person who’d dream of cutting down another human being like you’ve described here if they are a stranger and not expecting such raw, unvarnished advice, but that’s my 2 cents’ worth and my style–I’m so glad to hear you’ve persevered and picked up writing again. As the old saw goes, the cream rises to the top, doesn’t it?! For myself, I try my best to have no regrets about the time I spent not doing something that I now do (such as writing). Anyway, best wishes to you and your writing (said another way, writing is an ultramarathon, not a 100-meter dash)!

      • Rory Ni CoileainRory Ni Coileain

        Anything’s possible, I suppose, and even now I’d like to give someone I admired so much the benefit of the doubt! — but the personal tone of the letter makes me doubt that’s how it was meant. Regardless, it’s to my advantage now — I have a 30-year-deep well to draw from when I write! (And to be honest, I probably didn’t have nearly as much to say at 19 as I thought I did! 😉 )

  14. AftenAften

    I am happy to report as a newbie I have sought editing guides, structure knowledge and HIRED AN EDITOR! You want to know why? Because I read your blog. You give excellent advice and guidance on how to be better at what I love. I’m not one of those mind boggling talents that changes the world one well structured and insightful sentence at a time. I love writing- and will edit whether I like it or not. As always: guide on, Wise Kristen, guide on…

  15. Cindy HidayCindy Hiday

    Love, love, LOVE this blog! I’ve been seduced into creating a Frankenstein mess, so I totally relate to your message. FYI: The writer in me read the subject of the video as “First WORD Problems”! LOL 😀

  16. Rebecca DouglassRebecca Douglass

    Saw this from Chris the Story-Reading Ape’s reblog. You’ve got a lot in this post! I’ve long regretted the “professionalization” of music (so that ordinary mortals are afraid to open their mouths and sing, or pick up an instrument and play, because they aren’t “good enough.”). So it feels a little weird to be worrying about the “deprofessionalization” of writing! But the thing is, when you join in a group singing or playing at whatever your level, you aren’t expecting people to come and pay and listen. But when we write, most of us do want a paying audience. That’s the time to get professional! As long as I was writing stories for myself and no one else, I didn’t have to edit. Now? Beta readers and editors and revision after revision, until I’ve got a tight plot and removed all those excess words!

    Agree about the writer blogs, too. I am a writer, so I like a good writer blog! But I am writing my blog for (in the best of all possible worlds) my readers, and I’m trying to make it something that’s interesting for readers who aren’t writers. Sometimes that does mean talking about the writing process–we all like to get a little inside info on things we don’t ourselves do. But mostly I write reviews and flash fiction and put up a few pictures 🙂

    Sorry–I think I just wrote a blog post all over your comments!

    Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Don’t be sorry. I work my tail off to get thoughtful comments like this. Since I blog for free the least I can do is get “compensated” with your thoughts 😀 .

    • Gry RanfeltGry Ranfelt

      There are free places people can read original fiction. Fictionpress, for instance. I have flash fiction, short stories and even af 50.000 words story there. But it’s fictionpress. Everybody KNOWS it’s not published-book-quality.
      The truth of the matter also is that it’s easier to listen to music than to read a book. It doesn’t take long to figure out whether you like a piece of music while we’re often told to “wait 20 pages” before the book becomes good.
      20 pages?! It should grab my attention from first phrase!

  17. TymberDaltonTymberDalton

    THIS. Sooooo THIS.

    I have had reader reviews, about the SAME book, complain it was too long/too short, too much sex/not enough sex, sex started too soon/sex started too late.

    *head/desk*

    Fortunately, that was one of my earliest books, so I learned that lesson early on that I need to take all comments, even from my editors (who are also human) with a grain of salt. I’ve learned that when I go with my gut (honestly, and not out of ego) it’s usually right, positively or critically. If I read an editor’s comments and something in my stomach says, “Yeah, that’s spot-on,” I know to change it. If I read a comment and my initial reaction is, “WTF?” then I stop, go back, and try to look at that same passage again as someone NOT invested in the writing. If I then get a, “Yeah, I can see where I need to change that,” reaction, I revise. If it’s a “human error” where the editor might have missed something earlier (again, editors ARE human), I either leave it, or clarify the earlier section to strengthen it, if I feel the error was on my end in the writing.

    But I never take it personally. This is art, but it’s a business. I write for my niche, not for every reader out there. I know going into this that every reader isn’t going to like my books, and that’s okay, because there are lots of books out there I don’t like, either.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Yeah, the critical beta was afraid I’d alienate certain readers. Well, I am ALWAYS going to alienate certain readers. If I use profanity or don’t use it. Love scenes or no love scenes. Oh, my protagonist can’t have a gun, because the anti-gun people will be offended. Not hopping on that crazy train. Thanks.

  18. gerrymcculloughgerrymccullough

    I enjoyed this blog a lot, Kristen. You say a lot of wise things. I used the Rhino skin idea two years ago in a guest post on Mark Williams’s blog – it’s so true. It’s important to learn not to listen humbly to everyone. But, hey, please don’t draw my name out of your hat – I really don’t want the unvarnished truth about my writing from anyone, even you – I’ve grown a thick skin, but not that thick! I don’t want to cry myself to sleep any more nights – I’ve had enough of that! I’ve had some lovely comments about Belfast Girls and my other five books, and that keeps me going. I write what I enjoy writing these days – that makes it a pleasure, and something I can keep doing, instead of giving up!

  19. Sand in My Shoes ReviewsSand in My Shoes Reviews

    All I can say is … thank you so very much. This came at just the right time for me. You’ve reaffirmed the power of words. And made a difference, for me.

  20. MichelleMichelle

    I like that you send your manuscripts to beta readers who might “hate” the story, don’t care for the genre or may offer a harsh critique. It is a testament to writers who WANT to produce the best possible work, to open themselves up (and their “baby,” i.e., book, novella, etc.) and allow other people to judge it. Thick skin, indeed!

    All my favorite authors, indie and traditional, have one thing in common: they WANT to hear CONSTRUCTIVE comments about their work. This Summer, I sent an author a personal email letting her know I found numerous errors in her book. One of the characters was supposed to be a native Spanish speaker and the dialogue was wrong – from incorrect usage, to unknown idioms, to incomprehensible statements. I told the author I wanted to provide an honest review, but if the errors were not corrected, she would be be raked over the coals by readers for poor editing.

    Imagine my surprise when she pulled the book off Amazon, emailed me back with her thanks, sent me an Amazon credit for the book and asked if I would go through the manuscript with a critical eye. You see, I was not the only reader who had noticed the issues, but I was one of the only ones who brought them to her attention. She was working with another editor on corrections and wanted another beta reader. The final product was so much better and I was thrilled that she cared more about the final product, than possible hurt feelings and/or ego.

    • maryjoceemaryjocee

      Bravo for you! It’s a win-win situation when author and reader both want the same goal: a well-written book.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      WOW. AWESOME! That is a true artist professional. I seek out people who hate my genre to torture them. KIDDING! No, I think if we only give the work to people who love that genre, they give a lot more grace and might not SEE certain things. If I can convert someone who doesn’t like my genre to like my book? SCORE. But even if I don’t, they are already set up to be hyper-critical, so one can glean some of the most FANTASTIC feedback…but you gotta have armor-plated skin. You also have to take the ego out and sort what you agree with from the WTH? I’m not changing that!

  21. ontyrepassagesontyrepassages

    If people looked at musicians like they look at writers they’d expect them all to be the Beatles and would refuse to give anyone else respect. Instead, Joe and Fred down the street can play the local place on the weekends and everyone goes to enjoy their music. At the same time, those same people who only respect the top authors strangely think, as you say, that anyone can write a novel. I often get the comment, “Oh, you’re a writer. Yeah, I was going to write a novel, but I haven’t had the time.” Gee, thanks.

    Indie publishing, though, may ultimately change this equation. Better tools will surface for weeding out the wanna-be writers and the overall playing field will level. More niche writers and locals will be able to make a living as a writer and people’s perceptions will change. It’s going to take awhile, but it’s already happening. And you’re a big part of making it happen. Thank you.

    • Gry RanfeltGry Ranfelt

      I happen to live in a culture capital of Europe and there’s a lot of poetry slam. It’s cool to be able to go there and basically “jam” words. And people passing by stop to listen, intrigued.
      I think we need to embrace small writer-cafés again. They used to be big.

      • ontyrepassagesontyrepassages

        Yes, great point…and great news. That’s what I’m talking about: bringing it down to the more immediate level and out of the mass media’s obsession with the big names. We must not allow grassroots art to wither.

        • Gry RanfeltGry Ranfelt

          It also encourages more “artsy” writing which can be fun to play with now and then. Sometimes we get so caught up in plot that we can get TOO rigid, I think. At least that has happened for me – sometimes I think my style is bland. Poetry Slam helps loosen it up.

          • ontyrepassagesontyrepassages

            I’ve had the same issue and that’s why I write poetry. At one point my writing was becoming stilted and generic.

            • Gry RanfeltGry Ranfelt

              I really can’t write poetry, though. What I do instead is sort of rambling little stories with a rhythm in them.
              It’s interesting how important rhythm is to writing!

              • ontyrepassagesontyrepassages

                Oh, I’m no great poet. I do it so as to doodle in the more artistic side of writing. Oh, such a smile I have seeing your last comment (after a long night of sleep—finally). Rhythm is too often ignored. That’s why it’s essential to read our work aloud. It’s amazing how many refuse to do so even when they’re alone. When doing so it’s important to catch the errors, but it’s also important to hear the writing rhythm as if it were a song.

                • Gry RanfeltGry Ranfelt

                  Well, we can’t be good at all our hobbies. It’s good to do some things merely for the joy and not because we expect ourselves to be good at it x) Poetry I find is a particular form of writing that is often meant to be “for us”

                  • ontyrepassagesontyrepassages

                    Agreed. I don’t post more poems than I post. Those “other” hobbies help shape us into the unique writer we become. Whether we’re good at them or not they’re important. 🙂

                    • Gry RanfeltGry Ranfelt

                      Sometimes failing at one thing is what can make us good at other stuff xD Don’t make me find an example but surely there is one!

                      March 9, 2014
                    • ontyrepassagesontyrepassages

                      I’ve had many occupations that I disliked and left so I could be viewed as a failure in those occupations, BUT I walked away with knowledge that is serving me well now. Everything is valuable. 🙂

                      March 10, 2014
  22. CollineColline

    There are so many gems in your post. The most important one? You cannot please every reader (even Rowling has her critics). I enjoyed reading what you wrote and look forward to reading more.

  23. Mark MyersMark Myers

    There are some real pearls of wisdom in here. I think it boils down to an author figuring out what his or her goals are. If all you care about is making money, you will need to cater to some group and mold what you do around their tastes. I’ve got pretty thick skin. I realize not everyone is going to like what I do, so I don’t try to please them. I’m in this to tell my story. Sure I would like someone to listen and to see a direct deposit from Amazon that was more than the pitiful interest on the account. In time – marathon not sprint.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      And we are writing for the reader, not just to please ourselves. The key is learning we cannot write for EVERY reader. We must write for OUR readers.

  24. Cindy SampleCindy Sample

    Great post as usual. I have 20 beta readers, half published authors, half readers, and one engineer who calls himself Mr. Monk. The authors provide craft advice, the readers have different insight, and Mr. Monk discovers obscure details that no one else would notice, but why not fix it before the book is released. Mr. Monk also has a thousand plots swirling in his brain, which he loves to share. I’ve learned to analyze his comments but respectfully decline changing my plot for one of his!

  25. Sabrina FlynnSabrina Flynn

    Great post! Critical beta-readers are so valuable, especially the ones whose opinion you trust. I am always so appreciative of their honesty.

  26. symplysilentsymplysilent

    Hi Kristen; As always, your posts are awesome. People act like they think they can write. But…did they…ever? How did those English Comp weekly writing assignments work for them? Were those term papers in…say…History…such a snap? Maybe, not so much.

    And then there were those people who could sit down in the period before and dash out a weekly something and turn it in and get a B on it. And, we waited until the night before to write the term paper and got an A and didn’t even copy / paste “much” off the net. I guess those are the ones, right?

    Silent

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Well, I fit into the second group and still wrote the Novel That’s Name Not Be Spoken. So, even for the geeks, fiction is TOUGH. BLOODY. BRUTAL. HUMBLING.

  27. Kira MorganaKira Morgana

    Reblogged this on The World of The Teigr Princess and commented:
    My other half told me to get a real job when I announced I was going to write for a living… *snorts*… pot calling the kettle black, methinks – he’s an Illustrator / struggling Artist!

  28. pd workmanpd workman

    Great thoughts. I have had some of the same experiences with beta readers. One will love what another will hate. I have also taken the comments from one beta and given them to another beta reader, asking “does any of this resonate with you?”

    Negative comments can be more helpful than positive comments, if you are willing to take the time to examine them, re-read your writing, and shore up any issues. But some of them you will find are just differences in personal preferences. Sometimes the reader has missed the whole point of the book. Sometimes what they perceive as a weakness was an intentional device (improper grammar in a young child’s narrative, fragmentation in a mentally ill person’s POV, particular jargon or slang, etc.) You have to have that rhino skin and be willing to ignore what does not resonate.

    I had one recent beta reader suggest that maybe I should foreshadow/plant images of a particular plot twist, with a suggestion of what that might look like. Her particular suggestion didn’t work (as my two year old toddler could not read…) and when I did another rework of the novel, I found half a dozen places where I had foreshadowed that image. She just missed them or didn’t realize their significance.

    Sometimes you’ll get what you perceive as all negative feedback, but later in the conversation, you get an enthusiastic “I’ll definitely post a good review when it’s published!” Some people just tend to tell you what is wrong and not what is right. I tend to fall into that trap myself, and had one author I was reading for come back and ask me “I’m confused – did you like the story or not?” It’s easy to be helpful and point out everything that is wrong, assuming that the author will understand that everything else was great. But of course the author may assume you hated it!

  29. catherinelbyrnecatherinelbyrne

    Yes, this is true.
    I am part of a book group (I haven’t told them I have published novels, I don’t want to stand out, or have them think I’m showing off). Every week they lay into the work of some poor author, but last week, one said ‘I tried to write a novel once, I never got past page 3.’ Another said ‘I have a vague list of ideas I’d like to put into a novel but I know I’ll never get round to it.’
    I just smiled and nodded.

  30. Tiffany PittsTiffany Pitts

    “Here’s a bridge. Now get over it.”

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Thank you. I’m still laughing.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      “Here’s a straw. Now suck it up.” I need about a hundred of those kits, please. One for myself of course 😀

  31. christineardigochristineardigo

    I handed my first novel to 2 friends on Monday to look over, and just sent it off to 3 more people today. So far the first 2 love it but they are noticing different things. One didn’t get a scene while the other got it right away. One thought one scene happened a little too early but the other thought it was dead on.
    For me what helped the most was the scenes i had doubts about, they felt the same so i’m glad we are all working together to take it from a B+ to an A+. That’s all i could hope for. No one is being mean though and one woman, that’s an avid reader, keep saying to me “I really don’t know how you do it. It seems so overwhelming, I could never learn and do all this.”
    🙂

  32. Gretchen GuzmanGretchen Guzman

    Yes, that last thing you said. I’m finally coming to the realization that if I want people to read what I write, hiding isn’t going to work. I have the introvert writer’s dilemma. And since I’m a newbie (relatively), I have not grown rhino skin. I’m still pink and tender like a baby’s butt.

  33. Kelly ByrneKelly Byrne

    “Be an island of awesome in a sea of inadequate.” Love it. Working toward that end. Failing miserably most days, but still I try. You are what you preach, Kristen, thank you for that.

    I’m more sea slug, less rhino with regard to my writing right now, but I’ve been away from it and critiques for quite some time, so as I dive back in I’ll be working on generating that leathery hide.

    You bring up a good point (well, crikey, you bring up a million, but I don’t have all day and neither do you, and you’ve already mentioned them up there so need to reiterate here 😉 ) about giving your work to someone who will be reading out of genre, or someone who (may or may not) probably won’t like it for whatever reason.

    At first, my gut was saying, “but but but Kristen, of course they were going to tell you to burn it and write something they want to read because it’s not their genre” but then you mentioned that ONE THING, that one little jewel that everyone else missed, but this person did not, possibly because he/she was waiting anxiously for spontaneous combustion, but it makes sense. Wow! That was a ridiculously long sentence and I’m not even going to fix it. 😉

    If you know, going in, that what you’re giving a beta reader is not in their wheelhouse, (ie. they won’t even pretend to like it and don’t have to) then you can EXPECT that, which is far easier emotionally and skin-wise than being surprised by a brutal review. It sets you up to be objective and to search for that vital piece of pertinent advice or information that maybe everyone else missed because they were too busy drooling over how awesome your (my, our) work is.

    Great point and well taken. Thanks, as always, for your clever brain and helping us “think different.”

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Actually an older, wiser writer pointed that out to me when I was first in a critique group. We had members who felt we needed to split off by genre and this old doctor mentioned that point. That so long as the group was a wide mix of genres, we’d get a vibrant hybrid of feedback. That actually people who HATED our genre might even have better suggestions and when they point out something they like? They really LIKE it…because they are totally waiting to smoke our @$$.

  34. desertdweller29desertdweller29

    Why must writers be the Rodney Dangerfield of the art world? Too funny. Too true. So much packed into this post, it’s already due for a re-read (which beats a re-write). Cheers and many thanks for this.

  35. sharonhughsonsharonhughson

    Having been raked by Kristen’s critique on two separate occassions, I will agree that she’s tough to please. She is not, however, cruel. I’m not at all surprised she sent her novel to someone she expected to hate it.
    I’m almost to the beta reader stage for my first novel, and I hope I’ve got a diverse enough group that I will hear about the real flaws in my story and writing. Is it scary? Yes. Do I expect to cry if one or more of them hate it? No doubt. Will I take every suggestion to heart? Probably not.
    I’m still learning to have rhino skin, but I am secure enough in my own creative voice to keep from writing a novel by committee. I think.

  36. Laurie A WillLaurie A Will

    Interesting post. People are always concerned about what would happen if lost all our technology, lol! Well what good would technology do for us without words and someone to string them together? I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but I think you’re right. People do think writing is easy or at the least severely underestimate the work that goes into it. I notice when someone asks me about my writing and they find out how long it can take, they lose interest. More evidence of a society overloaded with technology. As far as accepting critiques. I’ve come along way. Years ago my first response always was they’re wrong. Then I stopped forming an opinion on the critique until I could think about it for a few days. Now, I can usually tell when I read it whether it is of help or not. But, still I still think about it for a few days. Because it’s like you said, if I can sift through a critique and find just one thing to make my story better, it’s worth it.

  37. Alison GreenAlison Green

    I am just starting out on my journey, after allowing self doubt and the attitudes of others turn me away from writing for a very long time. One of my first steps were to find writing/critiquing groups to join, looking for community, inspiration, guidance, and the occasional kick in the butt when I needed it. A lot of the groups I found I walked or ran away from quickly because many were filled with people not looking to critique or help, but instead, to tear down and annihilate. I love your blog, so often the things you write about are things I am tossing around in my mind at that very moment. So glad I found you.

  38. EnsisEnsis

    I have the opposite problem–my beta readers, when they do give me feedback, give me old, “Yeah, it was good. Wouldn’t change a thing.” That’s when I can get them to read it in the first place…
    I recently did a chapter swap with an acquaintance of mine–I read and thoroughly annotated her first chapter within seven days. Emailed her the feedback and found out she hadn’t even picked mine up. I sent a new version, since I’d revised it. That was three weeks ago and I haven’t heard anything.
    I had gave her positive and negative feedback, and I don’t FEEL like I was too negative, but I of course had to point out a few flaws that made the chapter a little dry.
    I phrased it nicely but I can’t help but feel she was upset. I wish more writers would grow a thick skin.

  39. andfreedandfreed

    This reminded me of someone I knew who would say things like. “I’ve written things!” I felt like saying, “Like what? Your grocery list?” Some people think anybody can be a writer; they just don’t get it. Thanks for your great tips.

  40. saralitchfieldsaralitchfield

    hahahaha you struck many chords today – especially since I got home at half 11 last night only to find that I had brought all the *cereal* home from my shop, but had left the *milk*!!!!!! I had cereal, but no fricking milk!!!!!!!! Yes, I did a little ‘justlostmyshit’ dance :p I could have used a straw.

    Also, my MS is out with 11 betas and the feedback is beginning… so far someone’s suggested cutting out a main character and 2 others have said he’s their favourite… What more proof that I need to tread carefully. Want to heed feedback and consider changes – but can obviously not heed both sides!!! Exciting times 😀 who knows what else will come in, I love it! You can feel something improve under your fingers, and where you don’t change something, you’ve reasoned why with yourself! I’ve also booked Marcy Kennedy in for a developmental edit once I’ve beta’d the book so I’m happyappyappy dancing… Enjoy this setting oneself up to succeed business – which is why I always read your blog!!!

  41. Jennifer ThompsonJennifer Thompson

    Thank you for posting these amazing, well-put thoughts, Kristen. I feel like I was just validated as a struggling writer. I will be posting a link back to your blog on my blog at jenniferthompsonbooks.blogspot.com because I believe many need to hear what you have to say. One of my favorites: ” Failure isn’t bad, it’s the tuition we pay for success.” Love it!!

  42. Deborah MakariosDeborah Makarios

    Hi Kristen!
    I’ve finally taken your advice to get rid of the pseudonym and stride out under my own name – as well as a few other changes brought about by reading Rise of the Machines.
    Writering up 🙂
    Thanks for all the good advice!
    Deborah Makarios (formerly known as Sinistra Inksteyne)

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Great to meet you Deborah! Pretty name, btw. Definitely memorable. Search engines will LOVE you.

      • Deborah MakariosDeborah Makarios

        Thanks! That’s half of why I changed my name when I got married – my maiden name was a) fairly common and b) frequently misspelled. At least now people ask 🙂

  43. JMVarnerBooksJMVarnerBooks

    I believe it was Louis Sachar who described his writing process as locking himself up with his WIP and not discussing it with anyone until it’s done. Kind of a contrast to the advice I’ve heard that says every chapter should be scrutinized by a writing group (i.e. Book-by-Committee).

    • Timothy L. CerepakaTimothy L. Cerepaka

      Book-by-Committee is a terrible way to go about writing a book because you can’t please everybody.

      Best to take Louis Sachar’s advice. I’ve never read any of his books (that I can remember, anyway), but he sounds like a wise man.

      -Tim

  44. Stephanie BittnerStephanie Bittner

    A great post, and the first of yours I’ve read. I’m always glad to find another writing blog to follow.
    I’ve had beta readers give me perfectly opposite advice before, especially about which characters they liked. I’ve had others suggest things that would cause me as a reader to throw a book across the room. And yet, one of the most useful critiques I’ve had was from someone who completely failed to get the point of my book. Though I had to ignore most of her advice, she still pinpointed a vital problem that my other readers had ignored. You never know who will have something useful to say.

  45. ravennewcastleravennewcastle

    Funny was just thinking about all this today then the universe put this in my path! It’s true can’t please everyone.

  46. Rebecca DouglassRebecca Douglass

    @JMvarnerbooks– I never could see getting feedback on each chapter, or even on the first draft. Nothing I write is worth reading until 2or 3 drafts have gone by. THEN I can ask someone to read it. Before that, it would be cruel,to them and me (since they would be sure to tell me not to quit my day job).

  47. Christopher Lee DeardsChristopher Lee Deards

    Kristen, I like your approach to social media. I started my website over a year ago and within six months I lost my appetite for it.
    I read the sample introduction to your latest book and it spoke to me. That’s how authors, and everyone frankly, should approach social media.
    Once I finish your book I plan to revamp my website and approach to the social media universe.
    Thanks.

  48. writingalewritingale

    Reblogged this on Radhika Meganathan and commented:
    Kristen Lamb talks about how “easy” writing is! I admit, I have had my share of the “you mean you are a writer and people actually pay for it?” baffled questions, and some have outright asked me to reveal them the secret of writing a book, because if I can do it, so can they.
    While it IS true, in a philosophical and “my life flashed before my eyes” kind of angle, each one of us do have a story inside us, the question is – do you have what it takes to be a writer? Anybody can write. But will they? Will they make writing a Top 3 priority in their life, spend time and money and sweat creating good literature, and gladly put themselves out there, for rejections and criticisms from professionals, editors and audience? Writing IS easy, I am glad to confess. It’s the part after you type THE END that is the toughest 🙂

  49. winterbaynewinterbayne

    Reblogged this on winterbayne and commented:
    Normally, I would link to this, but it deserves a reblog.

  50. winterbaynewinterbayne

    Reading your blog and the comments people have posted convinced me I need to read your book. Killer book cover. btw! I’m a sci fi fan. Thank you commenters!

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Thanks. I had few goals in life. I wanted to be a cyborg and yes that is me on the cover—though you get to guess which half….AND that joke NEVER gets old.

  51. M T McGuireM T McGuire

    I wrote corporate puff professionally and it was amazing how many clients paid one agency I subbed with for my work and then resented it, or thought they could do better (until they tried).

    I think one of the problems with book writing is that while it takes skill and time to learn to do it properly but if someone asked me how I make my characters believable I probably wouldn’t be able to tell them. Learning to write properly is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do but if anyone asked me how I do it I doubt I’d be able to tell them.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • Alison JusteAlison Juste

      Just wanted to answer, not just reblog.
      I do feel that public perception can affect us, but once you talk to other writers, you just KNOW it’s not easy, so it helps to have that support.

      I used to be a lot more insecure and highly self-critical of anything I did, but over the last few years I’ve grown a rhino skin, as you put it, and little by little I’m realizing what part of my writing has my *voice* that some people will always try to edit out. It’s a “try and see” kind of approach for me, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop listening to all the voices. It just takes time and practice to learn which ones to tune out.

      I would be brave enough to hand my book (or work in progress) to someone who could rip it apart, but they were reluctant because they didn’t want to use their normal “roughness” on my writing (and/or me).

      As for being a world-famous writer, I’m still debating the whole “pen name” issue, but probably won’t seriously commit until I have a finished first draft. 😉

  52. TraceyLynnTobinTraceyLynnTobin

    First I have to say that I’ve been strangely lucky when it comes to the attitudes I’ve come across concerning writers. While I do find myself forcing a smile back at the occasional person who has “an awesome idea for a book and I just have to find the time to start writing it”, most of the people I’ve met in my life thus far have considered writing to be an extremely difficult profession. They’ve seen how much time I spend writing and shudder, and they read things that I’ve written and readily admit that they could never do that. It’s EXTRAORDINARILY refreshing.

    That said, on the other side of things I’ve had my fair share of issues with beta readers and critique groups. I spent a bit of time on a particular website for people who critique each others’ work and I ended up having to leave because I was grinding my teeth into oblivion. While some people had excellent points and really helped me improve my work, there were tons of other people who were mean just for the sake of being mean, or who (as you mentioned above) tore the everliving hell out of my work because it happened to be in a genre they didn’t like, or a perspective they weren’t use to, or what-have-you.

    It took me a while to realize it, but I think that one of the most important things a writer can learn is to discern the difference between helpful or truthful comments, and the ones that are written by people who just want to express bad attitudes or make you upset.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Truth can hurt like hell. “Help” can be unicorn farts and not good for much of anything. I think we need to Writer Up and realize it’s a business. If we want our hands held, go visit Mom. We have to separate truth from sheer pettiness, enmity or even ignorance. People have the right to be wrong. Some people are just jerks. But they are great training for the public jerks we WILL get in the reviews when we publish. On Goodreads, I have one-star reviews from people hiding behind a moniker with a locked down profile. I KNOW they didn’t even pick up my book. They gave it one star for the sheer sake of being petty and mean. Had I not been trained in critique groups, I might have actually cared.

      • TraceyLynnTobinTraceyLynnTobin

        I couldn’t agree more. As writers we have to learn how to have thick skin and accept that what people say about our work can help us to produce BETTER work, but we also have to be aware that sometimes people say mean things for no reason, or because their personal opinions override their ability to be unbiased.

  53. Gry RanfeltGry Ranfelt

    I come to think of all the indie games, too. Many awesome games have only become possible in the new paradigm. World of Goo!!!

  54. Patty H.Patty H.

    As usual Kristen, your post speaks to me. I’ve entered my current novel in several contests in the last few months. My goal was to get feedback from someone other than my critique group–they are great but I wanted fresh eyes. The scoresheets have been really helpful and one positive I’ve heard many times is that my premise is ‘fun’ or ‘unique’. However, yesterday I read a score sheet that said my premise was ‘laughable’ (not in a good way). One of this judge’s many comments was “I’d better give the heroine a different job because she had ‘nothing’ to help the hero.” Just fyi, my heroine has a skilled trades job that is the keystone to the whole plot and my character’s arc. The comment sounded elitist to me. Maybe she just isn’t my audience.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Some judges are odd ducks. I once entered a short story in the category of Speculative Fiction. The judge RAZED me and said, “This story sounds like something we’d see on X-Files.” Ok, isn’t that….good?

  55. Glynis JollyGlynis Jolly

    I know this is probably way off the mark but I have a question, well… a few questions.
    I’m doing my first draft right now. This is my first attempt at a novel. The last thing published other than blog posts for me was back in the 1990s. I have a writing buddy via the Internet. I’m seriously thinking about giving her a slice of what I’ve written so far to critique. Would I be shooting myself in the foot if I did this? Should I wait until the last draft instead? Should I wait until I have my story edited?

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Press to finish. Never edit early. You can root out the best stuff. Also, pages out of context are really hard to edit. Is it a scene? A sequel? My recommendation is table it until you can revise it no more then back away.

  56. adstarrlingadstarrling

    I am an author and a part-time practicing doctor (see what I did there? I used to say I’m a doctor and part-time writer!). The differences between those two careers couldn’t be greater. I have been told so many times “But how can you compare medicine to writing? Medicine is a vocation where you can do so much good! You’re a great doctor! We can’t afford to lose someone like you!” And more comments like that, along the lines that medicine is a “serious” job, while writing is a self-indulgent hobby that I can just do, you know, whenever.

    The perception that by committing to writing, I’m taking the “easy” option as compared to medicine, is sometimes in the air, unspoken but readable on faces. And yes, the comments of “If you can write a book, then I should be able to write one too” abound.

    There are days when I feel guilty for chasing this dream. I feel I’m too privileged, that I’m getting to have my cake and eat it. But then I look at what I’ve had to do to get to where I am today and I think, ‘Hell no. This is not freakin’ easy! Not everyone can do this!”

    What we do ISN’T easy. What we do IS important. The written word has shaped human civilizations, societies, and cultures for millennia and will continue to do so in the future.

    Without the written word, the lights of the world would go out. No newspapers, no books, no films, no TV, no plays, no education. People would go eat, sleep, and work.

    We might as well go back to being monkeys.

  57. Jorgia JacobsJorgia Jacobs

    I’m a new reader but wanted to say thanks for the great advice about taking criticism! I am not a writer (I’m an enthusiastic reader who, even before reading your post, appreciates great writing) but I am a hobby seamstress/crafter in the throes of turning my passion into a business. I appreciate your discerning between constructive criticism, specific product (or in your case, genre) dis-interest, and just plain ol’ gas 🙂 Thanks for your time & great words! -jor.

  58. Ileandra YoungIleandra Young

    Ugh. If I have one more of my friends tell me ‘Oh yeah, I thought about writing a book one day.’ I might just go hide in a hole and never come out.
    For the first time I have words to describe why people seem to think it’s so simple and it makes me feel good to have that. But rubbish at the same time.

    No. Writing isn’t easy. It isn’t effortless and nobody should assume that.

    I don’t think people realise how insulting and damning it is when they say such flippant things to a writer. They think they’re being supporting and understanding. I wish we could do more to show the world what it really takes to do what we do and do it well.

  59. Chris Henderson-BauerChris Henderson-Bauer

    “Ah, but the general public assumption is that the only thing standing between them and being J.K. Rowling is merely sitting down and finishing the story. Many believe that, because they’re literate and have command of their native language that they can do what we do.”

    Sigh. Okay, writers. We’re all friends here. Time to fess up: who wrote the 80’s movie training montage about writing and convinced everyone that they, too, could be the next Steven King with a few jogs up the library steps and some inspirational music?

    😉

  60. miraprabhumiraprabhu

    Kristen — another amazingly helpful post — thank you! I am re-blogging it…you make good points — one being that while most of us can write, most of us humans can’t play an instrument or sing… and so the brilliant author gets lost in the ocean of mediocrity.

  61. miraprabhumiraprabhu

    Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    Greetings Fabulous Folk! I am re-blogging Kristen’s post on aspects of the writing life so you can set those wheels in your own bright heads turning….I took 20 years to complete my first novel, Whip of the Wild God — in actual time, perhaps 4 years — it also went through about 7 incarnations — and I can honestly say from personal experience that writing is rewriting — i can spend hours polishing a single paragraph — not at one stretch, but over the span of writing the book — or finding the perfect word to describe what i want to convey…everyone wants to be a writer today, but few know how difficult it is to stay the course…writing takes more than talent — it takes perseverance, meticulous attention to theme, character, dialogue, plot — most of all, when it comes to a novel, it takes being so passionately in love with your subject/s etcetera that you are willing to keep going and going…until you have a piece of art that truly works…if you are a serious writer, you KNOW what I mean….

  62. Cheryel HuttonCheryel Hutton

    Kristen, this is my favorite of you posts, so far anyway. Truth laced with humor and sarcasm. Yum, my favorite flavor 🙂

    Yes, everybody believes they can write. Sometimes they actually can, LOL. What people in general, and beginning writers, don’t get is the work that goes into writing a piece of anything. I’m just SOOOOO happy there wasn’t an easy way to self-publish when I wrote my first novel (may it stay forever hidden under the bed!). I would so hate to have that piece of $h*t out there in the world with my name on it. I shudder to think.

    Love your blog, and your books. Keep up the good work!

  63. Ernesto San GiacomoErnesto San Giacomo

    There’s the other problem. People write email, tweets, and text messages all the time. Therefore, they do not the magic involved.

  64. uninhibited~ladiuninhibited~ladi

    Reblogged this on ladim1 and commented:
    This article had me floored, because it had a lot of truth behind it!

  65. uninhibited~ladiuninhibited~ladi

    This article has me floored, because everything I have read today has this theme about writing in it and how to be confident. So much truth and beauty about the struggles and triumphs. Lovely read. Thanks for sharing!

  66. Linda Sharon ConnellyLinda Sharon Connelly

    Thank you for this advice! As I step out into the world of freelancing I’m grateful for you!

  67. Peppermint HoneyPeppermint Honey

    “We keep changing the plot, the characters, the dialogue because one person frowned (and we didn’t realize they merely had gas)”

    This (and the paragraph it is in) is something I need to remember and take on board. I still remember a comment from my sister about my writing from about 15 years ago. I have jellyfish skin, but with reading articles like this, it is slowly thickening up. 🙂

  68. David JarrettDavid Jarrett

    About a year ago I made the mistake of letting a couple beta readers read an unfinished WIP. Their comments were well-meaning, but they disturbed me and made me second-guess myself to the point that I made no more meaningful progress on the novel for months. The first draft is finished now and has been self-edited several times, and, in all truth, I did heed what the beta readers said. However, I think I would have been better served to wait until the first draft was complete before allowing anyone to read it.

  69. Pat GriffithPat Griffith

    Great article! I have often wondered about where the mystique about being an author came from and I think you nailed it with the idea that writing used to be a highly prized skill.

    Maybe it’s the city I live in, but people are always impressed when I say I write. When I tell them wrote a whole book they congratulate me. Even if they don’t realize how much work (and money) editing and the rewriting that follows is, they do recognize to write something worth reading is not something they can do or are willing to do.

    Again, thanks for sharing. Cheers.

  70. Patrick TimmPatrick Timm

    Oh so true Kristen! Thank you for composing your words to remind all of us writers why we write and to be perhaps be just a little thick skinned. I like your comment above about technical writing and engineers. I was a technical copy editor for 15 years reviewing instruction manuals written by engineers. Yes, you must be a good translator for that kind of job.

    I linked your blog from mine http://www.patricktimm.com/my-musings/

    and also on my author Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Patrick-Timm/293806860718033

    I hope my Indie author friends read this!

  71. Crystal ThieringerCrystal Thieringer

    I read this on a day when I was feeling like a caveman. I need to emerge from it tomorrow. Anyway, just wanted to say how much I appreciate this. I’m in a critique group that is all online, but we seem to be connecting very well. It’s challenging because we do have different genres but that’s a good thing too. I’ve seen it.

    I just finished my first ever round of ‘query flurry’, and it was unsuccessful but it was a good thing for me to see that I have developed thick skin about my writing, and yet, I still remain open to suggestions. I didn’t send out a single query until I was sure I could handle the rejection. Yeah, it stings. And yeah, I’m okay.

    Tomorrow, I’ll sit in my office and work on it all some more. Thanks for the blog post. It was the bit of encouragement I needed tonight.

    Crystal

  72. susanddhavleSusan DhavlesusanddhavleSusan Dhavle

    You are MOST interesting and the FWP video made me laugh so much. I can see from the amount and detailed comments that this is what people need badly. Something for me to read in there too.

  73. Richard SuttonRichard Sutton

    Kristen — I was also sent the Indie Musician v.s. Writer post, and I think the big difference is that you can enjoy music without engaging your mind, or having to commit lots of time. Everybody is so bombarded by competing demands for their attention. In order to attract and hold it, you’ve gotta have some cred, PLUS a really excellent offering. People are just looking for reasons to say, “No. Maybe later.” There is still a lot of lambasting of Indie Authors in the media and online. Much of it driven by angry publishers (who overlook the fact that they have been known to dish some pretty egregious plates of garbage, too) and their publicists, quite anonymously. Readers pick up on it as an easy answer. If you’re going to self-pub your books, you’ve gotta make sure they are better than mass market fiction or you’ll only sell a few here and there

    Besides, cavemen were excellent at writing, only they called it storytelling, which they passed up to us. We just learned how to have a bigger group around the fire than they had! 😉

  74. Kristen LucianiKristen Luciani

    I rewrote my first novel three times. It’s the one I am currently hoping to have published sometime in the near term. =)

    In retrospect, three versions is not bad. And the third version was the result of my engagement with a professional editor, so I could have easily gone through several more iterations before making the brilliant decision to confer with a suject matter expert. However, as much as she said she loved the story after we’d gone through the developmental editing process, she had comments about a few of the scenes. She made recommendations, which I considered very carefully, as she specializes in my genre of contemporary romance. I made some of the changes because I honestly felt they made sense. BUT, I couldn’t accept all of the critiques. Much as I felt she had the best insight, I also knew that I wanted this specific scene to play out a certain way. This is where we had a benevolent clash of the personalities, meaning the way in which we would each approach handling the scene was very different. I held my ground because I believed it needed to be more dramatic than what she felt was necessary.

    I defied my editor, pleasantly of course. =) But who knows if I made the right call?

    I’m okay with a difference of opinion. If I really believe in building things a certain way, I feel like I’ve developed some confidence to stay on that path.

    Hopefully, I can continue to build that confidence as I write more. But it feels good to stay true to myself…sometimes. =)

  75. A.D. EverardA.D. Everard

    Excellent article. Yes, I went through a million rewrites of my first in a series, trying to please one person behind a desk – new person and new desk each and every time – in my hunt to get published. It took 20 to 30 years to grow a thick skin and finally go my own way. More people love my work than don’t (science fiction). Book two, also, is doing well. I’m now on book 3.

    I no longer listen to tear-down criticism. I have a trusted beta reader and I trust my own gut. I will shelve a work and read it back fresh before I ever allow it out. It has to sit true with me, and I do make sure of it.

    Some critics mean well. Some don’t. It’s worth writers being aware of that, too.

    Cheers. 🙂

  76. reneeregentreneeregent

    Interesting perspective, I never thought of it that way. But you are right. Not everyone can play music or sing, but many think they can write a novel. Until they try to actually do it! And it is difficult to not take every criticism to heart. Thanks for the reminder that we can do it our way.

  77. Leola McCurdy OgleLeola McCurdy Ogle

    Excellent advice. One of the best blogs I’ve read to encourage the writer. Thanks so much.

  78. lynnkelleyauthorlynnkelleyauthor

    I remember how just one person’s comment at critique would make me want to rewrite or delete my ms. When we’re new, we assume those other writers know so much more than we do. I’m glad I’m past that stage, pretty much.

    I remember one of my writer friends was an established writer, had had many books published. An editor she submitted her current ms to critiqued it drastically. She revised it, and when she read the rewrites to us, the piece had completely lost her voice. It was flat. Everyone in our critique felt the same way. So even experienced writers can become insecure when they receive critique from someone they think is so much more experienced than they are, and throw in how that editor might want to acquire the piece. It ruined the piece. She changed it back and bypassed that editor.

    As a children’s writer, there’s also a stigma about us among other writers. It’s viewed as easy. Seems like everyone and their brother thinks they can write a children’s book, especially a picture book. Picture books are actually harder to write because every word counts. You have to limit the number of words. Writing for ages 8 to 12 is easier for me than writing a picture book. They’re not easy to sell these days either and there are less being published.

    As far as the difference in how musicians are judged compared to authors, that’s an excellent point. Makes perfect sense.

  79. David JonesDavid Jones

    When I started writing several years ago, and four manuscripts. I was surprised when my five brothers and sisters supported what I was doing. The main comment I heard most, “I didn’t know you wanted to write or even had dreams of it. Go for it”. But in the end, when I published my first book, they did not purchase a copy. I have asked them about that and they would tell me they would purchase a copy to read, but they never did.

    I have lived by the rule that I will not publish a book without first having the book edited by a professional. The comments I have received have not bothered me, but as you mention, you have to decide which ones to use and those to leave on the table. I do not want to be one of those writers who publish books with grammatical errors and story lines that go no where.

    I have also discovered it takes time to find the right editor to work with. Many say they can, but few really can edit.

  80. rami ungar the writerrami ungar the writer

    I’ve been writing for years, and I know it’s not easy. it is very, very hard. There are days when I find it difficult to get the words down on the pages. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  81. charles perkinscharles perkins

    It never ceases to amaze me how under-appreciated writing in reading can be. Even in today’s world, when we live in a very “informational” society. We often wonder about things in life but very few are willing to go the extra mile to research. Rather, they speak with friends and family about the subjects that are on their mind so often instead of picking up a book or heck even googling the subject (for Google is a great informational tool these days). I thank you for this blog post and shedding some light on the subject of “Yes, even a caveman can do it.”

  82. S.R. McKadeS.R. McKade

    Thank you for this awesome post. People think that writing is like a hobby – they don’t treat it seriously, don’t treat you seriously. For my part, I’ve found that you need to believe in yourself first – believe you can do it, write your book. Then you cement that belief in concrete. Yes, I would send my book to someone who would hate it, just to find that one unique piece that will add value to my story. I would consider all the points but I wouldn’t just rewrite it all if I find it will kill my story – what I’m trying to express. I guess, I’d try to find a way to use the criticism and stay true to my story. Thanks again for sharing this!

  83. WayneWayne

    As a non-writer with a cave themed blog that just wrote about indie music – I feel kind of inadequate after reading this post. And maybe some of that has to also do with being a non-musician writing about music. 🙂 Some of us are just cramming our thoughts into words and punctuation that are close enough to get the job done. I have much respect for well written work and also for well crafted music. But there is a certain charm about the inept hero just belting it out for the world to hear. Maybe that is why I love punk music so much. Sorry to ramble on…but as I said— I am a caveman with a blog. 🙂

  84. KatieKatie

    I am so beyond glad that I found your blog. This is beyond brilliant and I for sure about to become an avid reader of yours. I’m an aspiring writer and just write to write. There are some days when I’m just not feeling it and I know that if I try and write something it’s just going to come out complete crap. And then there are other days that I can just write for hours. One thing I always have trouble with is dialogue. I’m totally fine with description and being inside a characters head but I can never seem to get the hang of dialogue. I can never seem to get my point across when people are speaking. Any tips?

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Watch good television series and movies. Study dialogue and body language. Watch over and over and over like a football coach studying games.

      • KatieKatie

        Interesting. I watch plenty of television but never really pay much attention to how people speak to each other. Thank you!

  85. poeticmind14poeticmind14

    I found this post to be truly inspiring. I too have gotten a lot of comments in regards to my writing, and being an English major. I believe that with hard work and dedication anyone can get where they want to be. I am currently trying to perfect my skills as a writer and I am open to positive and negative feedback. I Just recently made my account so I don’t have many posts, but I would greatly appreciate it if you have the time to give my stuff a read.

  86. RobinLKRobinLK

    Bravo! As a newbie writer (seasoned teacher with two books writing themselves in her head), I find satisfaction in blogging and struggle with getting words on paper..ummmm… screen (all nonfiction)…. Your post gives me pause. And a smile. 🙂

  87. helenjain21helenjain21

    Great post! And very true as well. Writing well is a skill, and you will never please everyone. I no longer bother to try pleasing everyone…If I am not satisfied, then it gets reworked. If it is technical or grammatical, then I make changes. If I am happy, then that’s what matters in the end. (I do listen to advice when it comes to flow, grammar or technical mumbo-jumbo.)

  88. W E PattersonW E Patterson

    As a technical writer, my colleagues and I often discuss the attitude that we find among some (but certainly not all), engineers, software developers, and even among certain managers. It is an attitude that writing technical documentation is something that anyone can do. Often this attitude tends to devalue the work of the professional technical writer, and I know of more than one who as left the profession because of this attitude. Again, I stress that I am talking about only a few people here.

    A few months ago, I was working with a developer who had such an attitude. After spending an afternoon with me, listening to me explain how procedural steps were structured, how the content had to conform to the corporate style guide, the nuances of several software tools as well as how we structure our documents to include translations in 9 languages, he sat back and said “wow, I never knew you did all that”.

  89. Penny TaylorPenny Taylor

    I just stumbled on you as I was looking for WordPress themes. I find the best things that way. You have great insight. I didn’t write most of my life, because I was sure people didn’t really make money at it unless they were James A. Michener or Stephen King. And then one day when faced with another supervisor who told me to falsify a report and another situation where I would say, “no” and have to look for ANOTHER job, I decided I was going to do it my way… and I began writing.

  90. datingdilemma2014datingdilemma2014

    What tips do you have for me? Can you look at my blog madam writer 🙂 Love your blog!

  91. ShannonShannon

    Nicely written.

  92. candidkaycandidkay

    My favorite was when a dentist told me she was thinking of quitting dentistry to write books. Which would have been just fine had she ever shown any talent for writing. Which she didn’t. I guess we laugh about it to keep ourselves from crying:).

  93. Amy ReeseAmy Reese

    Great post, Kristen. I needed to read this, so thanks. I just recently got some feedback and realized I can’t please everyone, not by a long shot, nor did I agree with everything they said. But I also got a lot of good bits, too. The only way to grow is to get feedback even if it’s painful.

  94. holditnowholditnow

    The creative process is one of those things that once you start down that path you just can’t shake. I come from a visual art background where a picture is worth a thousand words, but to actually put together a thousand words that paints a picture- not easy. Engaging writing is hard work that doesn’t happen over night. I especially like what you said about failure being the tuition for success. Thanks for sharing your experience and creative generosity.

  95. NexialistNexialist

    only if you have a brain 🙂 writing is the realm of the intelligent 🙂

  96. NexialistNexialist

    nice chewable read 🙂 I will reblog if you give me permission 🙂

  97. walt walkerwalt walker

    We’ve all heard non-writers say something about how they have a great idea for a story, they just have to sit down and write it. Only someone who has earnestly tried to do that can understand how naive it sounds.

    And yes – good, true writing definitey requires a thick skin. If you don’t have one, you better get one.

  98. jennyfaceblogjennyfaceblog

    Love the post. Gave me hope and reminds me that I can’t expect a quality piece of writing instantly.

  99. Terry RobinsonTerry Robinson

    I liked the music analogy, I used in a similar way in my, “Why Write” page.

  100. CymneorithCymneorith

    Please forgive me, but I have to repost this. You speak the untarnished truth, my friend. I have heard people say countless times that all writer do is play with words and they do it easily. I would love to see how easy they think it is when they have to delve into their brain, only to find they’ve been locked out by the Block and can’t find the key. And I want to see how easy people think writing is when they think they’ve got the next Hunger Games, only to realize their plot is crap and they end up changing the entire plot. Sorry, I went on a rant there, but people take writing for granted, when they don’ t realize every art form must be praticed and praticed, and just because you speak your native tongue doesn’t mean you actually “speak” it. Anyway, thank you for this marvelous post. You’ve gained a follower.

  101. xcimm2xcimm2

    Reblogged this on xcimm2 and commented:
    Excellent reading!

  102. krysteendamonkrysteendamon

    This is so perfect. I rarely talk about my writing with anyone. I don’t even bring it up with my mom anymore. She thinks its a waste of time and I just need to concentrate on working at a real job for the rest of my life. My dad mostly gets it though. But he basically wants me to make money from it too so I can survive ( I want that too though).

  103. kimshaykimshay

    I found your post insightful and interesting. I think it is the same with photography. We don’t get much respect because everyone is doing it today. It does take an eye and some skill though. I respect all arts but, I also am glad that there are those that don’t care if what they create is great –they just love to do it.

  104. totallyrandomgoodadvicetotallyrandomgoodadvice

    Everyone can write! Just go to a fan fiction site. Most people can’t write well, though. Again, just go to a fan fiction site for proof!

  105. njwriternjwriter

    Reblogged this on Writing After Dark and commented:
    Kristen Lamb talks about the misconception that writing is an easy job. Why do Indie Musicians often get more respect than Indie Authors? Great blog post.

  106. thestorychickthestorychick

    This post was just what I needed. I’m constantly trying to please all of my readers, and I have recently started to think to myself: “It’s MY book, I can do whatever I want with it.” Easier said than done once my writing gets into the hands of beta readers, though. But I’ll keep coming back to this post to remind myself to stay true.

  107. RachelRachel

    I’m not a writer but I am a recreational reader and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this 🙂

    P

  108. alicejblackalicejblack

    I really liked the points you made here. Society does take the written word as a given and often it isn’t given a second thought. If people truly understood what hard work went into writing something, especially something novel length, they might begin to understand what being a writer is like.

  109. hugehuge

    Reblogged this on write way up and commented:
    Writing – so hard I can’t do it. Great blog from Kristen Lamb…

  110. hugehuge

    I’m a PR dude and write everyday – and it ain’t easy! Especially when you’re writing about pallets, padlocks and pans. It’s affirming to read your post and actually think that what I do is pretty smart, even if most people don’t actually appreciate – or read it! Reblogged over at Write Way Up. Thank you…

  111. nickycorbishleynickycorbishley

    What a great article! My dream is to be a professional writer. I know i’m a long way off, but the advice here will help me enormously. Thanks!

  112. avi77xavi77x

    Wow, so glad I stumbled across this. I wish everyone would read this… the people who don’t respect writers, the people who expect that it will be easy and quit when it gets hard, the people who DON’T make use of editors, and… the people who let one critical voice silence nine. I think I’m still the latter…

  113. forgottenmeadowsforgottenmeadows

    Wow! Insightful and well written…I love your style of writing the points you made in this post. 🙂 Can’t wait to read more of your work!

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      George R.R. Martin seems to be doing okay. Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King are paying the bills all right, too. Thus, I suspect it’s a matter of taste/preference.

      • myschoolhouserocksmyschoolhouserocks

        True and all are interesting. Not quite what I meant about brevity though.

        • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

          I am so fried traveling lately, so not understanding 😛 . I know with blogs I struggle to keep them short. Eventually I gave up and just wrote fewer and my readers seemed to like that. I use lots of space and pictures to help with length. But yes, brevity is a SKILL and a TOUGHY.

  114. heidinlsnheidinlsn

    That was awesome!

  115. FraukjeFraukje

    Love this article!! (not commenting for the review ;))

  116. keepingjustordinarycompanykeepingjustordinarycompany

    In the literal sense most people are physically and intellectually able to write, I mean that they are able to string together words into a sentence and type or write it down. In that sense they are writers, but they are not “writers”. I agree completely that most people think writing is easy and that anybody can do it. I have run into that attitude before and I’m sure I will again. From experience I know that it is not and that as writers we are often our own worst critics. But I have also run into the opposite, where those who consider themselves “writers” look down those who dabble in writing for themselves or for fun. There are not enough of us that appreciate good writing and I don’t think we should limit those who can partake of it by looking down our noses from our ivory towers. There are all types of writers in the world and though it isn’t easy and not every can do it I think we should be encouraging more people to try rather than telling them they are unable.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      I can use Crayons. Doesn’t make me an artist. *shrugs* But I can still love to draw and not make it my living. There are all levels and all have value. Maybe if more people wrote short stories or colored for fun they’d need less anxiety medicine 😀 .

  117. Book PeepsBook Peeps

    Excellent post. Your spot-on take on criticism or, “critique” as you describe it, also applies to every area of our lives. It really is about discernment and that can only happen when we can objectively walk the middle ground between the sting and the applause. We likely never can be completely objective when it comes to our work or how it is seen by others, but we certainly can get to a place where we can read between the lines of positive and negative criticism more honestly. I hope this post will also serve as an inspiration to those who might be thinking about giving up and to those who have, give them the inspiration to start again.

  118. justmoo33justmoo33

    Hi Kristen. Another brilliant blog, thanks. I have to admit I don’t always catch up. I read some of the comments and loved your ethos of editor settings STUN, BLAST or KILL. I’m not sure I’d have the guts for KILL setting 😉

  119. jonontopicjonontopic

    Beautiful. It’s the only word that I can find to sum up everything about this post.

  120. LissyLissy

    Exactly… ppl love movies, but they never think about something that is so obvious, that someone had to write that script, someone wrote a book, on which the strory is based and all..they are always praising the actors (I must agree and admit that they are the ones who make it believable), but they never value the person who had to be creative, who had a complex view, an image about the whole plot.

  121. shanzehnaumanshanzehnauman

    After my younger siblings read this post they got the inspiration to write further…. beautiful work.

  122. EllieEllie

    Reblogged this on Ellie Elise and commented:
    What an insightful post! Good writers are quite often taken for granted. So many people see the spectacular writing out there and take it for granted because it is so natural to read that they don’t need to think about it. These readers only notice the bad stuff because it wasn’t natural to them as they read, and it stuck out like a sore thumb. I can’t blame them for that because it’s easy for me to do the same if I don’t stop and think about it!

    As a budding writer I’ve had to get over myself and just take that leap to put myself and my writing out there. People will either love it or hate it and not only is that okay, but that’s part of a writer’s journey! We wouldn’t be able to grow, learn, and become better writers if it weren’t for the well placed criticisms we get from our readers.

    -Ellie Elise

  123. larryrisinglarryrising

    What are the keys to start becoming a writer?

  124. EllieEllie

    What an insightful post! Good writers are quite often taken for granted. So many people see the spectacular writing out there and take it for granted because it is so natural to read that they don’t need to think about it. These readers only notice the bad stuff because it wasn’t natural to them as they read, and it stuck out like a sore thumb. I can’t blame them for that because it’s easy for me to do the same if I don’t stop and think about it!

    As a budding writer I’ve had to get over myself and just take that leap to put myself and my writing out there. People will either love it or hate it and not only is that okay, but that’s part of a writer’s journey! We wouldn’t be able to grow, learn, and become better writers if it weren’t for the well placed criticisms we get from our readers.

    -Ellie Elise

    Reblogged on ellieelise.wordpress.com

  125. Rii the WordsmithRii the Wordsmith

    I usually do find frustration in that others think that writing is so easy, you just have to be literate…although on my end, it’s usually from people who are think it’s so easy they can do it. That’s always hard to judge and I try not to be harsh, but…I do find it irksome when I run into someone who tells me a story that isn’t so much a story but a mechanism for telling me how awesome their Sue is. Could they be a writer? Sure, but not with the attitude that they can write a story just because they know how to write words.It bothers me the same was as I am bothered by people who say “I’d write if I had the time”.

    I think the part of this post I appreciated most of all is your pointing out how writing does, in fact, make money. How it’s used all over. It’s too easy to forget that and it IS the best example of how writing is forgotten.

    Thank you so much for this post – it was a bit of a boost to…not my confidence, but my…anti-despair about writing in a world where writing is taken for granted.

  126. razorrahmonrazorrahmon

    You’re very right about “taken for granted” of this skill. Especially with so many “keyboard warriors” online, every person thinks they can write. But I have great respect for people who can move others with words. I know how difficult it is to be staring at a piece of blank paper and getting those first few words down. And as I have done IT training before, I know how extremely difficult it is to make a tangled technical subject comprehensible in layman words. I would say everyone can write but not everyone can breath life into stories.

  127. Kristine N.Kristine N.

    Great post! I agree that people sort of scoff when you tell them you’re a writer, especially if you haven’t had anything published yet. Writing is hard work, but most people imagine it as someone slacking off all day.

    But I think that, while you say “anybody can become a writer” with some derision, it’s kind of a nice thing about becoming a writer. No matter your skill level when you start out, you can become a good writer with lots of practice, hard work, and determination. Writing is a craft that puts out exactly what you put into it. So while it’s not nearly as easy as some people think it is, writing is also not some talent where you either have what it takes to be a good writer or you don’t. It’s a skill that you can develop, which I think is pretty awesome.

  128. swanrivergirlblogswanrivergirlblog

    As a very new blogger not under my own name, this was bracingly good and have given me lots to think of as I progress inchingly onwards. Thanks a lot Kirsten.

  129. lostandfoundtravellerlostandfoundtraveller

    I applaud you!! Yes, you have preached to the converted, but how nice it is to be understood, even better that your craft as been able to eloquently articulate something that because if emotions I struggle to express. At least with any real conviction/confidence. New to blogging, everything you have written rings true. The level of skill required to script a piece with conviction and be engaging is much more difficult than it seems. The most challenging struggle at present is wondering how my “voice” is received. In fact, just in general finding my voice is quite tricky, and then having the confidence to trust it. I read so many bloggers on here, their styles so varied and all of a sudden the “pen” quivers that little bit more. But yes, societies perception on writers’ doesn’t engender much faith for many of us. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  130. probinso2013probinso2013

    Hey Kristen,

    This is inspirational. I think every aspiring writer feels self-conscious when asked about their writing. For me, it stems from the perception that writing, especially creative writing, is easy and superfluous. You did a fantastic job of tearing that myth down!

    Patrick

  131. PrometheusPrometheus

    Writing is definitely a meticulous process. It’s like a wizard’s work. A good author easily grasps one by the hand and takes him into a jungle, into a lonely woman’s desperation or a man’s joy and wherever you are taken, you don’t question it. It’s like being invited by someone on the street and fully trusting that they have good intentions. Bad writers… they just loose the reader in the beginning. So, we need more of you. More good stories, more creative writers and more trust. You’ve got a lot to do 🙂

  132. naomiharveynaomiharvey

    I couldn’t read all the fab comments because there’s just too many of them! This is a fantastic post though. I have only just started a creative writing course and my friends were all desperate for me to write something they could read. In the end i shared a bit of my coursework. It was a basic first draft, no revisions or anything, because the point of the exercise was to incorporate a theme from my own life experiences into a story. One of my friends said “It’s alright I suppose, but there’s no magic, no boobs, its not funny and you seriously need an editor.” I was a little disappointed by that, but thankfully i’m still rather proud of it. I just pointed out that his comments were less than helpful and it wasn’t meant to be a finished piece of work. I learned a valuable lesson though. I won’t send out things like that now unless its to people i know i will give some constructive criticism, and not just a load of whining.

    • naomiharveynaomiharvey

      Oh damn. I meant get some constructive criticism. Not give. That’s what editors are for!

  133. ambroseanthonythompsonambroseanthonythompson

    Point well made, and people are odd. We all talk, but no one thinks being an actor is easy. We all breathe, but no one thinks playing the flute is second nature.

  134. drapersmeadow4drapersmeadow4

    Thanks for such an invaluable post! While I’ve never been paid for my writing, this writing muse has been with me for over 30 years. I have just recently sat down, seriously, to extract from my soul, the depth of insight and humor that’s been sitting quietly, waiting for me to come play with it. After raising 2 children (one w/severe disabilities), then losing said child – I had a choice to either run or confront my muse. Fearing that writing would take me to a deep dark place from which I would never return was my biggest and most enigmatic challenge. I finally learned that FEAR and not my writing, was the scariest creature of all.
    Since then I have visited many dark places surrounded by brilliant, enlightening colors that pull me outward after sitting within the crevices of the past.
    Thanks again for your brilliant insight. Be well.

  135. thebiotrotterthebiotrotter

    A really great post. To be honest I often consume posts like they were tissues. But you managed to catch me. I’m not much of a reader…I dont know if that’s a good or bad sign! 🙂 Anyway…well done!

  136. chloeroberts93chloeroberts93

    Yes, everyone has a story tell; whether it’s our lives our someone else’s in our head. But, what makes a good story is how we tell it, not necessarily the events that are involved. if there’s anyone here that wants to know more about my views on creative writing, do visit my blog 🙂 http://theartofwritingfiction.wordpress.com/

  137. SarahSarah

    I LOVE this. As a 20 year old attempting to settle the battle between the pressures of “practical” careers vs. Doing this, something I love, I am ever so grateful for this post. Thank you for inspiring some confidence into this young writer!

  138. clhigh22clhigh22

    This sounds so familiar to me. I actually left a critique group once because my skin hadn’t reached rhino status and the work was faltering. Fortunately, a few years later I came back to the group and found I have a thicker skin and their critiques had also become more constructive. Reasons “why” were given as to what was wrong with the piece and we have tried to keep personal bias out of it. The novel is now progressing and I’m a happy camper.

  139. PurelySocialMediaPurelySocialMedia

    Thanks for the new perspective! It can not be easy making your career as a writer but as you stated, writers will always be needed. I thought you gave some great tips for refining a piece.

  140. 2cupsofjoe2cupsofjoe

    Cool video and not strangely enough, I can relate to these people.

  141. bringreanerbringreaner

    This makes me really want to find a writing group! Good advice, thank you.

  142. damnedindistressdamnedindistress

    I am a teenage writer and my current issue is trying to keep my mind on one story. I am a thinker, so my mind often wanders into other worlds I could create up in my mind. I want to get my stories to get published, but I fear that if I finish one people will discard it considering I’m only 16 and writing. I tried apps similar to wattpad but I never posted anything, those places seem like a place where good stories go to die. So my question is, considering you’re most likely an experienced writer,; What do I do to keep my mind stuck on one thought, and where do I go to get whatever I finish published?

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Depends on what you are writing, but CreateSpace ROCKS. Just do it. Life is short. Embrace all of it. EVERY MOMENT. One day, you will be an old seasoned author and happy you published that early work.

  143. mateekalaneemateekalanee

    Thanks for this. No offense to anyone, and maybe this makes me pretentious, but nothing annoys me more than people who say “yeah, I can write too. I can write, I just don’t.” The thing that makes me want to pursue a living in writing is that I can’t NOT write. Great post.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Right? They think they can. I did too, LOL. Writing my first novel humbled me up with a quickness, LOL.

  144. kingpolluxkingpollux

    Excellent indeed! Reblogging! Thanks for the tips! I need to get down to brass tacks with my first novel and edit the CRAP out of it.

  145. judyjourneysjudyjourneys

    Yes, I believe everyone has a story to write, and home is where that story begins. During the four years I was writing my story, I did not share it. I did not want anyone to influence the story I had to tell. It was my story, not theirs. So I kept it close to my heart and did not announce what I had done (even to my husband) until my book appeared on Amazon.
    http://www.amazon.com/Before-Door-Closes-Daughters-Alcoholic/dp/1490808949/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394819472&sr=8-1&keywords=Judith+Hall+Simon

  146. itsmayurrememberitsmayurremember

    Writing is hard. Writing like what you wrote is beyond my caliber. Outstanding

  147. plantedintheskyplantedinthesky

    Appreciate the insight, Kristen, and here I am leaving a comment – but not just to get my name in a hat! I would really like to know what you meant when you wrote “This is one of the reasons I strongly caution novelists starting “writing blogs”.” – and to hear what the other reasons are. Thanks! Jessica

  148. StanislavaStanislava

    Thank you very much for your great article. I completely agree with you on growing a rhino skin. When I wrote my first book, I was completely unaware, unprepared and delusional, dare I say like most of us, debut authors about the whole publishing process.

    I wasn’t ready and certainly my book wasn’t ready either. I rushed into querying, my eyes turning into two giant dollar signs like a cartoon character, already seeing myself at the premier of a movie based on my book. And that was the problem. Most people have two many ulterior motives for getting into writing. Of course, every artist wants to hear the praises about his art, wants see his art in a gallery, hear his song on a radio, see your book in the front window of a bookstore etc.

    After a while, when the success is not coming, that gnawing seed of doubt creeps in. It is not at all easy to shake it off, even harder to learn to listen, learn and finally start to believe in yourself.

    Now years passed and I can say I got wiser and my point of view changed dramatically. After writing two books and getting absolutely nowhere, frustrated with the whole process, crying, screaming and blaming everybody, but myself, for not making it big like J.K. or Ms. Meyers.

    I sat down, took a deep breath and spent year of doing everything else, but writing the next book I had in mind. I started a blog, I started to read more again, I removed myself from querying pool. I met great people and in a process agreed to help one of them revise her own work, something that gave a huge surge of energy for my own writing in return.

    Before I was sure I wanted to write again, however, I asked myself few crucial questions. “Will I keep writing, even if I will never be published? Will writing stories give me enough satisfaction to know that maybe someday, somehow they make it even though I am not around anymore to take the glory?” My answer was YES and YES and that’s when I finally realized that writing, at least for me, is not about hitting it big, selling hundreds of millions of copies, the fame, or the movie or TV deal lurking in the background. It is about learning something you probably didn’t know you were capable of and hopefully, it will give you joy even as you continue on with your daily job and your life.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      *standing ovation* GO YOU! Hey, I designed my own action figures for my first novel…which is now being used in GITMO to break terrorists 😀

  149. B-DubB-Dub

    Hah, I write and I’m a musician. I can relate! I learnt ages ago not to trust certain people. I started fuckin’ with ’em, where I’d rename a track by someone else, and then play that track along with a newbie by me, and tell ’em it was by someone else. Results? Typically, peeps shredded the song they THOUGHT was by me and gave props to the song they thought was by someone else. Fine. You don’t count. The ones who gave a considered opinion then, still matter today. And that’s how it do. 😀

  150. Leigh W. SmithLeigh W. Smith

    Ms. Lamb, I enjoyed this post, which I found through Freshly Pressed, tremendously. What you’ve said–“This is one of the reasons I strongly caution novelists starting ‘writing blogs.’ “–is a true multifaceted gem. I do have to chide myself now and again not to write a story about a writer (writers writing about writers writing–now there’s the kiss of death, for readership anyway!), but I think I did recently pull off a decent, if tongue-in-cheek, short story about a writer “trapped” in a story. One of my problems now is that I’ve rewritten my novel’s beginning so many times, so many layers, it’s hard to see the light to progress forward with what still needs to be done. To the degree that it’s daunting in my mind to return to writing the darn thing (it seems to me I should have slogged through the whole thing then edited and re-edited). I love your suggestion, then, when one has a finished product to take the reins and being a benevolent dictator, if not steward, of one’s own writing (and I say this having come from the copyediting field, where I was entrusted with helping an author toward his/her vision of the novel or novella or nonfiction piece). In any case, you give great advice here. Sign me up as following avidly!

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      We can nitpick to death. Perfection is an ILLUSION. SO THRILLED you are here and WONDERFUL to know you! Thank you SO MUCh for taking the time to comment. I so love hearing from all of you.

      • Leigh W. SmithLeigh W. Smith

        So true about nitpicking. That some of us get paid for nitpicking (as editors, copyeditors, and so on) . . . can greatly complicate the writing process when we switch hats! 🙂 Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your insights and encouragements.

  151. sharonhollysharonholly

    So far I’ve only been “brave” enough to show select portions of my work-in-progress. (Usually the stuff that I think is not complete garbage)

    I don’t think I could handle severe criticism about it at this point! Maybe after a few more edits? Maybe?

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Dive in. NO WATER WINGS. The BEST ally you can have is an editor or a beta reader who can save time and heartache by getting to the point. It’s like easing the Band-Aid off or one shining painful PULL! But a GOOD editor won’t just tell you that you SUCK. I NEVER criticize ANYTHING that I don’t tell the author WHY and HOW to fix. Otherwise ur just being a jerk.

  152. sharonhollysharonholly

    Reblogged this on sharonholly and commented:
    “Are you brave enough to hand your book to someone you know will hate it in hopes you can harvest that one good point?” Um….NOPE. ”

  153. Journey To EstrangementJourney To Estrangement

    Scares the bejaysus out of me just thinking of asking others for feedback being a newbie to writing. Is it best to just get it over with at the beginning of this journey? Take my fledgling writing and let others excoriate it to within an inch of it’s life (that’s the big fear) or wait a few months/years/eons/never and let people excoriate it to within an inch of it’s life.?
    ps, Is it all right for a grown woman to cry at writing groups?

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      I cried in the parking lot if that helps. It is a process. It’s like building callouses. At first there are blisters and it stings but it’s necessary for what we DO. We are a rare breed. We have to remain infinitely sensitive to write WELL, but still be tough as nails so we can continue writing.

  154. wa1marktngwa1marktng

    I am not a writer, at least not in my own head, I’m not, but I recently finished a first book, which is a commentary on the Banking, Finance, Political and Economic mess the world has gotten itself into and the history behind it (The Coming Battle – mentioned on my blog – address below).

    I’m also a bit of a painter and photographer, and I noticed long ago (I’m a baby-boomer, who recently passed a milestone birthday) that I have a tendency to be self-critical, and as a painter, the painting seems never quite finished, the photograph, never quite good enough – if only I had done ‘X’ or ‘Y’, and my writing – never quite complete.

    I edited the book for more than 2 years, and yet still on re-reading notice things I should have perhaps spotted months ago. And the story because it is about political life, is never ending, so from that point it is a history that is still unfolding.

    (and I’d appreciate feedback if anyone decides to read it – it could help you with investment ideas btw. ) BUT, how many others are just as self-critical, just as unsure about the work they produce., just as nervous every time they hit the “Publish” button, or send their draft off to their agent/publisher? I bet despite the self doubt, we all seek approbation and approval (is there a difference?) – isn’t that why we do it?

    W.

    (http://moneymatterstoo.wordpress.com)

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      We all are critical, but this is why I encourage writers to blog. It weans us off perfection (which is a myth). Your book sounds fascinating. I have a degree in Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa, so your topic gets my geek on 😀 .

  155. mesridhimesridhi

    delighted to have read it at 3 am (here in India). that’s why i don’t publish all that i write. can’t wait to read a lot more fro you..

  156. Raani YorkRaani York

    You know, Kristen, my own Mom thinks I should better do something USEFUL than writing….

  157. wynwordswynwords

    reblogged to wynwords…. love this.

  158. Alisa AntonAlisa Anton

    Awesome post! Encouraging for the likes of me – newbies venturing into blogging / writing world.

  159. evaasonevaason

    I have always admired people that are able to write, and catch the readers interest. What an interesting post.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      It is brutal. We really do take for granted the skills many writers have. Even after all these years, I still have to check my ego. If a writer made it look that seamless/easy? IT WASN’T 😀

  160. Shaven CrowShaven Crow

    Great article. I’m not a writer, I’m a wannabe writer. Which means I shall probably never finish my WIP. you have given me lots of food for thought though, and I can’t wait until the first time I can tell someone to shut the full cup.

  161. mandisamparnellmandisamparnell

    Hello, Ms. Lamb. I live in Jamaica where, fortunately enough, people revere writers. Especially writers of STORIES because down here almost everyone you meet is a poet or a wanna-be singer. As someone who has been writing since childhood, I get a lot of encouragement and support from anyone I share the fact that I write with. They always want to read my work and are usually quick to offer a critique. Jamaicans, in general, don’t feel that “writing is so easy a caveman could do it”. In fact, most are quite averse to it.

    I agree with everything you have said in this blog. I always hate it when people read something I’ve penned and the only feedback they can offer is: “It’s nice.” or “You are really good.” because comments like those do not help me to grow and improve. I appreciate constructive criticism and even the caustic ones when I DO get them. Those are the ones I crave but the fact is you’ll most likely only get those from another writer.

    I took my first Creative Writing class last year and my experience was unforgettable. The feedback I got from my fellow aspiring writers was invaluable. Being a part of that group also reinforced the fact that I was born with rhino skin. I think I have the power of discernment and I don’t usually take comments to heart. But as you said, there was one person in our group that usually hated everything everyone wrote simply because she was not a fan of the genres we wrote. Ironically, she was the person I learnt the most from. I laughed when I read the line: “Are you brave enough to hand your book to someone you know will hate it in hopes you can harvest that one good point?” She came to mind immediately. However, there were other members in that class who literally got depressed and disillusioned because they felt like they were lousy when they received constructive criticism. I will be sharing this blog with them.

    Thanks for taking the time out to write this very long post. It is chock full of wisdom. You echo a lot of my sentiments and from now on I will be reading your blog.

    One love!

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Wonderful! I hope it blesses your group and your natural rhino skin is a blessing. I had the skin of a grape, LOL.

  162. calvin5811calvin5811

    Failure isn’t bad, it’s the tuition we pay for success
    LOVE,LOVE,LOVE IT!

  163. InkyEditsInkyEdits

    I am so glad I found this post. I have recently been engaging in quite a debate with a select few of my friends, most of which are writers as well, on this very subject. I am guilty of taking one harsh review to heart and my friends suffer with the same thing. We all end up, somehow, reading over our work again and again, looking for what we should revise and edit, but it’s no good. Lately, I’ve tried to push those negative comments aside and focus solely on the more positive responses I get from readers.

    It works — but doesn’t always last very long, because someone else will come along and the cycle starts all over again. This post, however, has given me a huge boost in confidence and I now know not all readers are going to approve of the work we bring forth; and that’s okay. I’m finally starting to understand that, if nothing else. Thank you for writing this – it really is very helpful.

  164. chalsangasochalsangaso

    Rhino skin is right! I’ve found it is very important to take interactions as important, but not life ending. You can’t hide in your shell because some advice or thoughts can be helpful. As for the useless stuff it’s necessary to let it just bounce off you.

    Thanks for sharing this with all of us. We’ll definitely be following to hear more, and learn along the way. Feel free to check us out at: http://naturalninjas.com/ Thanks again!

  165. Joanna L.Joanna L.

    great post! and got me thinking about constructive criticism. it’s interesting how i welcome it on stuff i work on and keep revising, but have a really hard time with it on the few pieces that ‘write themselves’. the same thing with photography. perhaps some pieces we create in whatever medium are just meant for ourselves. as for the ‘thick skin’ it’s more like titanium armor forged with patience…lots and lots. 🙂

  166. LifeLoofahLifeLoofah

    Criticism is a necessary evil, one that we all need to face, whether we take it to heart or not. Like you said, it’s all about deciphering the gems in and amongst the rest. Thanks for the well-thought-out post.

  167. ckittnzckittnz

    Wise words and thank you Kristen. It is very, very hard to write, like birthing a baby, a gut-wrenching physical and emotional slog.

  168. Rebecca NolenRebecca Nolen

    You are good, very good. Yes, we do face that stigma. I am trying to set up a book signing at a popular indie books store. They said that it would be summer before they could fit me in. I said, OKAY. Then they backed off and said they would have to read my book. I gave them a free copy of my book. That was last month. Am still waiting. What would you suggest? Thanks.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Is your book listed as retainable through Ingram? If not, then they won’t have you. 🙁

  169. Creative_Junkie_xXxCreative_Junkie_xXx

    Thanks for the advise! I’ve recently let go of the fear of putting my work to be critique…i enjoyed this blog.

  170. nightowl91nightowl91

    Great post! Everyone thinks they can be an author these days, but few actually realize that good authors work very hard to produce something great.

  171. Ódor RichárdÓdor Richárd

    “I risk overworking a book trying to attain the unattainable—perfection” – Actually, there’re some truely, really and irrefutably perfect classics in literature – so it’s not so unattainable after all. 🙂

    Of course, the writer has to decide which critics worth attention.

    This “easy writing” thing is quite interesting topic. Why do we say that writing literature is hard, and why does it seems easy from outside? And what’s with the opposite? A famous classic writer of Hungary, Dezs? Kosztolányi wrote that: “And the writer is the one who naturally “can not write”.”

    In the same essay he explains: “The writer is an enemy of the paper, a primordial and loving enemy, who fights with it perpetually. In his childhood he looked on it’s frightening whiteness with respect when he had to baste a test essay, and while his classmates […] effortlessly and shapely painted the pleasures of winter or the beauty of a poem, he just felt despairingly that every of his sentences contain ‘was’, that what he writes down is ungraceful and dull, that in point of fact he never say as he wants, because his message is extremely complex already, just as life, multiple, deep and chaotic, full of fertile mist. Since then he hasn’t learnt it yet. If he had learnt it, he would not write anymore, he would finish it, he wouldn’t be a writer. Ease and evenness is of those who are not writers. He has been born to not to be able to write, and to write all the time, […] – he can write as no one else can.”

    (Maybe… Sorry about the quality of translation, I’m not a professional translator, but perhaps you can get the point. 🙂 )

    Best wishes from Hungary!

  172. Sharon NeriaSharon Neria

    I found this blog refreshing in the statement of writing is personal. Feedback is important, but should not totally change the direction of your writing. It may help fine tune how you write, but not the personality you bring to the table

  173. abigailroseauthorabigailroseauthor

    I have no idea if I am a great writer or a horrendous writer. I am a writer because I am compelled to sit in front of my computer for hours upon hours and unload the ideas that clutter my brain. This may actually be an indication that I need more medication, but alas I write. Thank you for your post. I must admit I hate having people edit and critique my work (it is a necessary evil). It feels very much like someone has said your baby is ugly when they have negative feedback. I wrestle with the urge to call their mother foul names or run and eat Oreos in bed while watching old episodes of Dr. Phil. Unfortunately, once I have brushed the cookie crumbs out of my sheets and revisit their comments, I usually find merit in them. Damn it.

  174. dbrandtwriter16dbrandtwriter16

    This just gave me courage. The people I grew up with are not avid readers, so it is a little disheartening to pursue this dream. I am inspired to continue. Thank you.

  175. wa1marktngwa1marktng

    Kirsten,

    Given your expressed interest in my book… I took the liberty of getting a shortlink for the post that linked to the book – “The Coming Battle”… http://wp.me/p405SZ-sd

    If you drop me a comment on my blog, I’ll use the e-mail address to send you an updated version (2014 edition).

    Cheers,

    Will

  176. AdelemmAdelemm

    Hi! Thanks so much for popping by my blog and liking my posts. It’s HUGELY appreciated. This is a great post! Loved it! I recently wrote a short story that got great feedback from family and friends, but there’s one friend who I’ve resisted showing it to (despite repeated requests). She’s not much of a fiction reader and I know she’ll hate it. Maybe that’s precisely the reason I should be handing it over! Thanks!

  177. authorcbdixonauthorcbdixon

    I love this. Right now I’ve tossed my book three times… Not because of my beta reader but due to the fact I’ve been learning more and more. The beginning didn’t match the intensity of the end. The beginning sounder childish compared to the complexity of my end. As I rewrote I learned more… and more… I know I’m far from ready to publish. I have much to learn, this post really helped me. I’ve got thin snake skin. One day I’ll get my rhino skin, that day will come.

  178. Stephen ThomStephen Thom

    great post I am glad I came across this blog. Some interesting points, I am uncertain as to general perception of writing myself, but i would say I disagree with the opening comparison from the facebook post. i play in an unsigned band and it can be competitive and disheartening at times. There is a lot of cross judgement between acts ‘climbing the ladder’ or whatever. i feel like we have to prove ourselves everytime we go on stage, although really i suppose that it a good way to feel. the few times i have mentioned i write stories has tended to provoke disinterest or confusion, although maybe thats just the type of people i know

  179. bushflowergirlbushflowergirl

    I am in my early stages of writing and stumbled on your blog from a suggestion from WordPress. I’m so glad that I did! I really enjoyed reading your post as I have heard so much about Rhino Skin and have to admit that mine is still in the skink stage. (you know… tiny lizard… so tiny and soft, think babies bottom!) Anyway, it made me smile and think. If I listen to all the feedback and voices in my head then I’ll never get anywhere… I need to toughen up and trust myself. I may never get anywhere but that’s ok because I believed in myself and gave it my best shot. Now time to don my armour and get back in the saddle. ps. also enjoyed the FWP clip. Too many chips!

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Great to meet you! Rhino skin DOES take time for sure, but it is possible. I cried in my car for an hour after my first critique. Now? Eh. People have their opinions.

      • bushflowergirlbushflowergirl

        Thanks. I’m going to bookmark your post and refer to it whenever I doubt myself! 🙂

  180. robynbirdrobynbird

    Brava, you! Excellent post. Writers are artists in the east appreciated way. Thank you!

  181. Michelle SherlockMichelle Sherlock

    Wow that was helpful. Loved the core of strength and passion running through that! Go you!

  182. J. Parker WaiteJ. Parker Waite

    I know I’m coming “late to the table” with this particular blog entry, but BOY did it come at a good time for me! I actually googled “people who think writing a novel is easy” and this popped up because, dang it, I’m just getting so blasted tired of friends and family members saying things like, “What’s so hard? Just write it,” when I try to vent about a particularly frustrating day working out the nuances of a transition in my novel (which is going through it’s third, and I hope, final revision…the first revision was mine, the second incorporated changes that were “suggested” by a literary agent I respect and the last was instigated from my indie publisher…which involves reordering entire chapters, thus my frustration mentioned above). Your article encapsulated exactly what I was feeling and reminded me that other writers share the same misconceptions from the non-writing public, and now I have the stomach and courage to face yet another day on a book that I would just like to finish already! After I clock in my daily session in front of this computer screen today, I will reward myself with a motivational read from one of your other blog entries. So glad I found this blog site.
    Thank you, Kristin!

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  4. Writing—So Easy a Caveman Can Do It | Kristen Lamb’s Blog
  5. Writing—So Easy a Caveman Can Do It | Louie Turcotte, Jr.
  6. Mental alignment for my writing | Louie B. Turcotte, Jr.
  7. Mind Sieve 3/17/14 | Gloria Oliver
  8. Az írás – olyan egyszer?, egy majom is megcsinálja | Thendarion
  9. A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – April 2014 | KD DID IT Takes on Books
  10. IWSG: The Month My Blog Ate My Novel | A Scenic Route
  11. Down With the Naysayers | Conquering Resistance
  12. Being My Brother’s Sister | CL Mannarino
  13. Writing—So Easy a Caveman Can Do It | Au Courant Press Journal

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