A little humility is good for the (writer’s) soul

There seems to be this general conception of writers as confident creatures with larger-than-life egos (think Richard Castle, from Castle).

Those of us who actually are writers know, of course, that such raging egos can easily mask a raging sense of insecurity.

And while I believe we all need to have faith in our ideas, occasional insecurity isn’t such a bad thing, especially if it motivates us to learn more about our craft.

Sometimes I find myself skimming over new posts on writing, thinking to myself, “Yeah, I got this–I already know this.” This reaction, I think, is dangerous–to anyone, but particularly for writers. In my case, while I’ve relatively recently reconverted to the fiction writing of my youth, I do have lots of experience with reading and writing: a PhD in English and more than ten years teaching writing classes. It’s easy for me to think I know what I need to know, when, in fact, if I did know all that, I’d already have a book contract.

Even for experienced authors, it’s important to keep learning, to keep challenging oneself as a writer and a thinker. Otherwise our writing stagnates.

My new challenge, particularly as I’m heading to a writer’s conference later this week, is to try to keep an open mind about my craft. You never know–I might just learn something!

What kinds of writing advice have you been surprised by? Have you ever come across good advice in an unexpected place? 

2 thoughts on “A little humility is good for the (writer’s) soul

  1. I don't remember where I read it, but the advice that sticks with me when I am stuck on plot is: don't be too nice to your main character. Don't let him or her have an easy journey. Let the bad stuff happen. It helps the plot move along and creates lots of conflict and interest. You can always be nicer during the editing process 🙂

    Have fun at the conference. I agree that we can all learn more.


  2. Excellent point, Rosalyn. Hmmmm…surprising writing advice? I think just about anything basic that we've heard a hundred times can jump out and surprise me. I mean, I'll think I completely understand the concept and I can see when others don't, but when it comes to applying it to my own WIP, I totally miss the mark.

    So, that's always a fun surprise. 🙂


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