One of the best things about working as a writer is connecting with others — especially crappy writers. That’s where the magic happens. Those of us who share lousy early drafts and admit there are times that we stink? We’re willing to expose our soft underbellies and writer’s tics to our peers. We get help from one another: it’s part of how we improve.
I love being around smart people who are good at their craft and want to get better. They inspire me in a way that smugness, complacency, and ego do not. They’re the ones who take courses, go to seminars, and embrace feedback from people they respect. And, while they don’t necessarily use *every* suggestion, they appreciate friends who save them from public typos and egregious grammatical errors. They’re willing to be crappy.
I’m feeling a little frustrated that there aren’t more of them around. I recently attended a seminar by some writers who, apparently, didn’t suck. At all. They seemed to feel free to point out the ways the rest of us fell short but, it seems, were beyond that.
And then there are my online buddies. I certainly believe in supporting and amplifying other authors, but lately, I’ve been struggling for balance; I’ve had to become more selective about what I share.
Here are some recent pet peeves from some non-crappy writers. (And I assume they’re not crappy because they’re not seeking — or using — feedback from other authors.) Here are a few recent, real-life examples that have me walking on the cranky side of the street.
- Let’s start with the person plastering the internet with pleas to hire her as a… wait for it… a WRITTING coach? Really? (I cut any identifying info out of the picture above.) Writing coach tip Number One: Proofread.
- I’d like to write a positive review of a book by another area author. I’d LOVE to. It’s just that I couldn’t read more than a chapter or two once I realized he hadn’t bothered to use an editor and didn’t appear to know the difference between the words “there,” “their,” and “they’re.”
- How about the “social media expert for authors?” You know, the one with 200 hundred online followers? Why would an author (or anyone) use a “social media expert” who doesn’t use social media? Does she not believe in it? Or not know how?
- And then there’s the “webmaster” who wants to charge an arm and a leg to build an author website. She sent a link to a sample loaded with typos, grammatical errors, old fashioned graphics and … “no.” Just “no.”
I’m not a completely crappy writer, and neither are the people I rely on and respect. I’d welcome some help sorting out the difference between confidence and complacency. How do you walk the line between “competent” and “driven to improve”? How do you get the feedback you need? I look forward to your comments.