Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cocky Writing

Writers are creatures of ego.  We have to be egotistical to think that we can tell a story in a way that's enjoyable to others.  There's nothing wrong with being a touch egotistical - after all, we all want our surgeon or lawyer to think he or she is the best.  However, we run into problems when that cockiness lets us breeze through a story so confidently that we forget to tell something others will think is worth hearing.

There have been times I've sauntered through a story, feeling oh-so-good about myself and my abilities, only to come back to it later and discover that it sucked out loud.  Such a discovery always crushes me, and I end up wondering what the hell just happened.

In a nutshell, my ego happened.

My descriptions will get far too brief, or the tone will take on an air of condescension(for the record, never talk down to the audience - they hate that).  I've thought, "Who is this asshole?"  Then I think back to when I was writing, and I remember that I thought I could do no wrong, that everyone would just "get it" and I'd be set.

While we're egotistical creatures, there's something to be said for having a dose of insecurity.  Insecurity helps push us to be a little bit better, and it compels me to go back through my work to make sure I conveyed both the story and tone I wanted to.

I think that learning some humility comes with writing experience.  Stephen King said, during his introduction of The Shining on a later printing, that there was a cockiness in the writing that began to grate on him as he matured.  We've all been there, but it takes time to shrug off that arrogance so we can focus on writing a good story.  Just remember that when you think you have it all down, life, and the audience, are going to find a way to bring you back to Earth...and it won't always be fun.

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