How to Avoid Writer’s Panic

dog

Your face when you look at your to do list.

What is Writer’s Panic, you may ask? Well, it starts when you realize you haven’t been writing as much as you should. Then it deepens when you realize you’re falling behind. Next you’re neglecting your side projects to the point where they don’t exist, and something completely unrelated to writing completely monopolizes your time.

Now, it might be a happy thing. You could have a baby or adopt a kitten or go on vacation, or there could be a death in the family or a stressful move to another city. Either way, once you settle back in, all you can do is sit there and think about how very, very far behind you are.

Having just had a quarter-life crisis of sorts, I am there. I have an unedited novel from two years ago that still needs finishing, for god’s sake. Follow these steps and you will be up and running in no time.

Step One:

Get over your Writer’s Block. I have a post on that here, and it basically boils down to forcing yourself to write. The easiest way I’ve found is to just write whatever I feel like it whether or not it’s any good. Just sit down in front of the computer and make words happen in some sort of logical order.

Step Two:

Create a list of everything you’ve been working on in the last year or so (or shorter/longer, depending on how long you’ve been away from things). Organize the list in groups of things that are nearly finished, things that you’ve just started, and things you absolutely want to finish.

Step Three:

Decide on what to start on first. Have a short story that just needs editing? The choice is clear. Do you have five half-finished novels and no idea which to start? Think of which one is going to be the easiest to write and which ones you would weep to see go unfinished.

Step Four:

Don’t set any hard deadlines. Until you’re back into the swing of things, deadlines will only make you worry more. You can maybe set goals such as “finish novel B this year” or “write every other day at least” but you have to find a relaxed balance where you can stretch your wings, as it were. It might take time for some people to get back into the groove of things and there’s no use in stressing yourself out when you don’t have to, especially when returning from any kind of stressful break. 

Ask family members and friends help for motivation if you need to. Activities like NaNoWriMo or writing groups can help motivate you without putting any real pressure on you. You just need to remember that writing is supposed to be fun, no matter how much the opposite can seem true sometimes.

To celebrate my return to blogging, I’ve put my book Wildflower Crown for free on Amazon! Click here to claim your copy for Kindle. (It will work on a regular computer too, just download the app!)

Thanks for reading 🙂

The Perfect Bad Review

So, I recently got a 2 star review of Wildflower Crown on Goodreads. The person said that they couldn’t finish the book and found it entirely not suited to their tastes. I was a little bummed that she didn’t like it, but I actually wasn’t upset because of how nicely she worded the review.

I was really glad to get this review, even though it wasn’t good, because it can actually help people decide if they want to read my book or not. Rather than saying “This book is terrible, don’t read it, my eyes were bleeding” or any nonsense like that, she just pointed out where she thought the book needed work and what she didn’t like about it. She was also very polite about it.

When writing a bad review, keep in mind that you’re commenting on something a person made, and that person has feelings. You don’t have to lie or anything, but try to think of what is constructive and could help the writer/other potential readers. If you hated every single thing about the book, you can say that, but word your review as you would if you were telling the author your opinion in person. Or over Skype, at the very least.

Before you publish your work you have to be prepared for bad reviews, even if they are just hateful nonsense, because not everyone is going to like your book. I steer far away from what I consider to be purple prose when I write, and this person thought my book was too simple. And that’s fine. If they didn’t like it, they’re allowed not to and I bare them no ill will. Another person emailed me to say she couldn’t finish my book because she really hated third person POV. You know what? I can’t help that. My book is third person POV and that isn’t going to change, and neither will her tastes. I don’t aim to write a book that everyone will love, I just aim to write a book that I would enjoy reading.

The Importance of Plot Bunnies

For those of you who don’t know what plot bunnies are, here is the official urban dictionary definition (can’t get more official than that).

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Alright, so ignore the fanfic thing. It can happen for any kind of story. Basically, you think of something or see something that is so inspirational you’re like OH MY GOD I HAVE TO WRITE THIS. I don’t know why it’s called a plot bunny. I was nine years old in 2003, so this has been around for a while.

Recently, I was attacked by plot bunnies. Or plot wolves, if you will. I had a super realistic dream (I don’t know if this is a thing all writers experience, because whenever I tell people about them they’re like “wtf”) about this land cursed by wolves. I woke up and I KNEW I had to write it. I started it right away and I’m at 12,000 words right now.

The strangest thing is that the story is coming together really well so far even though I’m pantsing (i.e., winging) it, though usually I plan a lot more. I’ve put aside the other project I wanted to work on this summer because the idea for this just completely consumes me.

BABY BUNNIES, BROWN, WHITE, GRAY

rawr

A lot of people will say to ignore your plot bunnies, to put them in a box and only take them out when you need them. However, in real life putting bunnies in a box without attending to them will kill them all. Ideas are a bit like that. Even if something is a good idea, the more you put it off and think about it without acting the duller it can become. If you have some kind of breathtakingly amazing idea you can’t get our of your head, act on it.

Just… don’t make that a pattern. If you keep abandoning your stories at 20,000 words because something new distracts you you’ll never get anything done.

Wildflower Crown too was started with a plot bunny. Though I’ve changed that bunny so much it probably looks more like a bird now, it’s still the same basic idea I started with. I’m excited that I’ll be sharing the story with you guys soon!

Crafting the Perfect Kiss

Pucker up!

Pucker up!

I write romance. I read romance. I watch romance. I live romance. One of the biggest deals in romance is the first kiss, yet for the life of me I am not satisfied with the quality of the kissing scene in Wildflower Crown. I want them to be better than my previous novel, to set the stage for the rest of my books. I want to make women swoon! And men too, I guess, but I’m pretty sure they don’t swoon all that often.

Bro, stop breaking the forth wall as she cleans your teeth.

Oh yeah baby clean those teeth.

My problem is that my scenes appear too mechanical. I struggle with balancing describing what is actually happening and not having it read as “insert Tab A into slot B.” Maybe I’m the only one who will notice it, in the end, but if I get it smooth enough that when the person who crafted (which would be me) it is absorbed into the scene then I know I will have done a good job.

"I'm so wet right now." "So am I."

“I’m so wet right now.” “So am I.”

However, when I try to veer away from the mechanical and go towards the metaphorical, I end up making it sound ridiculous. Maybe this would be a little more forgivable in modern romance, where at least you can say “Electricity shot through her,” but I find myself stuck on this one scene thinking, “What the hell do I write now?”

“He leaned in and kissed her. Their lips came together gently, like two pillows smashing together. Her lips were soft as if he was rubbing his face against one of the aforementioned pillows. Heat spread through him like someone had dropped boiling fondue on his chest then washed it off with very warm water.”

Om nom nom give me that wittle tongue.

Om nom nom give me that wittle tongue.

Needless to say, the scene above will not be in the final draft, but I’ll be damned if you don’t read Wildflower Crown and think, “Oh well that was a nice kiss.” I’ve decided that to accomplish this, I won’t actually use the word “kiss” during the action. It was one of the many tips I found while Googling about, the best of which can be found here.

How To Be The BEST Author Ever

So I’ve been an author for six months now and I think I can say without a doubt that I know everything there is to know about being an author. Since there is literally nothing left for me to learn, I’ve decided to be generous and share my vast knowledge with my lowly followers.

1. Stop reading!

Seriously, a lot of people will tell you to do the exact opposite, but don’t listen to them! Reading will only cloud your judgment and make your own novel worse. Do you want that to happen? NO. Not only that, but you might accidentally lift elements of that story and end up PLAGERIZING. You SERIOUSLY don’t want to do that, do you? And you waste so much time reading when you SHOULD be using that time for WRITING.

2. Make sure EVERYONE knows about your book!

Marketing is very important! If it’s not obvious that you have a book out when people visit your blog, you’re not going to sell any books! Make sure that there are AT LEAST three links to your book on every blog post, otherwise it’s like you don’t even have a book out. You should always ALWAYS always tell new followers/ commenters of your book and where you can find it. I like to use a copy/paste message with a link to my book on Amazon that I send to everyone who comments on, likes, or follows my blog! This is also a good idea on Twitter, to immediately tell new followers where to buy your book!

3.  Never accept a bad review!

Like I said, marketing is very important! If your book has bad reviews, no one is going to want to read them! You have to be aggressive and go after the bad reviewers, explaining how they’re wrong and telling them to either remove their bad review or change it to AT LEAST a four star review. NEVER accept a one or two star review. That’s career suicide!

4. Make up some Frequently Asked Questions to post an FAQ on your blog!

I understand that many of you starting out may not have enough fans to put together an FAQ, so you can just make some up! By acting like the questions you’re answering are asked a lot it will make it look like you’re more popular than you actually are and get people interested in you and your work!

5.  Always write for the market.

Being an author is a JOB. You’re in it for the money! If you write a book no one wants to read, you’ll end up under a bridge! ALWAYS write about whatever is currently trending. Right now, I’d suggest a vampire BDSM book!

6.  Make sure readers know what your main character looks like!

What is a story without a main character? NOTHING! Your readers NEED to know what your main character looks like, from the color of their eyes to that birthmark on their left buttock. The best way to do this is to open your book with your character looking in the mirror and describing everything they see! It’s both comprehensive and immediate, so your readers will start off knowing just what they look like down to the smallest details!

7. Don’t worry about consistency!

All you need is a good story. If your character loves lemons in chapter one but hates them in chapter ten, no one is going to notice! As long as the story goes on, it doesn’t matter if things are consistent as long as there is lots of action!

8. Make sure your story has an agenda!

You aren’t writing JUST to make money; your book has to SAY something! Whether it be about gay rights or abortion or feminist issues, make sure your book has a hidden agenda! Your book is useless if it just tells a story; it also needs an important lesson that will stick with your readers!

9. Don’t worry about your book cover!

You know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? It’s completely true! Readers don’t care what your covers look like, they’re only reading your description! Just look at these covers, and these books are published! [1] [2] [3] [4]

Alright, but in all seriousness, don’t listen to any of this advice. (Also, to be fair, books with terrible covers can sell [1] [2] but only if you already have a huge fan base and a bunch of books already out.)

A Tale of Editing and Insanity

ddd

Day 1: I have killed off a character. Well, not killed so much as erased all traces of his existence. Sorry, Quade. You didn’t fit into the story like I originally thought you would. On the bright side, I can use his name in another story now. (I get irrationally attached to the names I give my characters. Not the characters themselves, just the names.)

I managed to get the prologue and chapter one edited. There is a scene that needs to be written that I’ve decided to add. To make up for getting rid of the one character, I’m giving another character his own voice. He’s a criminal, so his POV should be interesting.

Unfortunately, I realized that my fun-loving and carefree character is a bit more timid than I thought. Poo. Get your shit together, Wild. YOUR NAME IS WILD FOR FUCK’S SAKE. COME ON.

Progress: 10% done. I’m already falling behind!

giphy

Day 2: Shit. Is this really my novel? Err… not too sure of this anymore. Maybe I’ll become a rapper or something. Writing doesn’t seem to be my thing.

I’ve added more scenes to be written by my new character’s POV. He was a total asshole in the first draft, ready to abandon Wild without any qualms, but now he’s being forced to leave her and he feels kinda bad.

The good news it that I’ve already made Daivat more surly, though he’s less likable now. His fascination with throwing knives also seems a little unhealthy at this point, but that’s for the best. Also I got into a fight on Facebook (well, I was yelled at) because Daivat is apparently a pedophile for finding Wild attractive before he knew her age.

Catcaller: Yo baby let me see some ID.
Female Passerby: *hands over driver’s license, birth certificate, and proof of insurance*
Catcaller: Oh yeah baby, 18, damn you fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

(That is an OFFICIAL excerpt from Wildflower Crown.)

Also, I’ve somehow increased the word count? This is good, but I’m not sure how this is happening. Chapter two is edited, as is chapter three, and some of chapter three has been extended to start chapter four.

Progress: 29% done. Back on track!

red

Day 3: I have Senioritis. Does that happen in college? I think it does. Why go to class when I could be editing?

Anyways, I switched one of the scenes to the queen’s POV because she kind of comes off like … a nice Umbridge. So her thoughts help show who she really is despite her outwards appearance. Plus, this will make it less weird when I have the next POV of hers since that was the only one in the book.

Problem: I have no idea how old my character is. You see, in Kiss of The Fey I established Cadmus being around Xenos’s age, who was 30, and now in Wildflower Crown Cadmus is just a boy. I want to make him 13, but I also want him to have left right after Johara was born, and I don’t know how old she is. It’s between 19-25, but that’s a big window. I don’t think this is something readers would ever notice, especially when Cadmus’s age isn’t given a number in Kiss of The Fey, but it still bothers me. Bah humbug.

I’ve made it to the start of chapter six this time. Woo!

Progress: 47% done. Almost halfway!

hurdle

Day 4: I’m cutting even more stuff out. I had to give Daivat’s ex-lover a name so I asked my Facebook friend (who has trouble with the ladies) for a heart-breaker name and he said Sarah. Well. Alright. Sarah it is. Boring, but whatever. I think I only mention her like twice.

I got through chapter six and part of seven. I got distracted and ended up stopping in the middle of a scene, and it happens to be the first sex scene. But at least I got through all the horse nonsense (which has nothing to do with the sex scenes, to clarify) that was a jumbled mess before.

Progress: 63% done.

panic

Day 5: Oh, right, picking right back up in the middle of a sex scene. Not only am I not happy with how late into the book it takes place (I don’t know of a natural way to push it forward, either) but I put a line break, meaning that I was planning to add something, but now I can’t remember what. So whatever brilliant line was there earlier is gone now.

I just…. I just found an error. Like, a big deal. I called my character by a different character’s name. It was the main character. Her name is Wild. I called her Wren. That is the main character of Only in Whispers. And… I almost missed it at first. A+ to me. Good job.

He was wearing one of his mother’s older dresses.

One letter makes a big difference, guys. Don’t forget that.

I just realized how often my characters blush. I think that’s a thing that gets annoying to readers. Like I don’t know, I just think that’s a thing. I’ll have to cut out all of Wild’s blushes during the next edit, but I’m keeping all of Daivat’s. Also, I’m watching Final Destination 3 while trying to edit, so everything in the novel seems creepier than it is.

Progress: 75% done.

yes

Day 6: Okay, I admit that this gif has no relation at all to my writing, I just wanted it in there.

I added an entire chapter of scenes to write. Haven’t written them yet, of course, but it should help with how rushed the first draft was. I have a scene where Rosabel must bathe in the blood of the innocents skin a rabbit cause fuck you, honey, you need to learn about the real world, and then another sexy scene between Daivat and Wild. Can’t have enough of those, can you?

I’ve managed to extend things enough that parts of chapter nine are now in chapter eleven. Wooo! I know you’re supposed to take away during editing, but I rushed to finish the first draft with a lot of bullshit that I know I’m going to delete, so I need to extend the rest of it.

Progress: 93% done. So close!

ds

Day 7: You know, I’m quite proud of myself for the scene where Rosabel breaks into the castle. It won’t be perfect until I go through it with a few more rounds of editing, but it still makes me happy to see that everything I wrote isn’t complete shit.

For the rest of this, though… the gif above about covers it. I had a whole ridiculous fairy gathering with like naked fairies living in trees and that is ALL being cut out. All of it. I don’t need such a silly plot to get this story finished. I don’t know what I need to finish it, but it’s not that. I think instead I’ll add a scene with Cadmus’s POV of meeting the girl he has to marry for the second time and having her be way less charitable than Wild.

Progress: 100% done!

giphy (1)So… what did y’all get done this week?

Fire

fire

The heat of the fire tickles at my skin
And the flame of the fire flickers in the cool wind
The colorful dance of red, orange, and blue
Makes me happy to sit here cuddled up with you

My hair blows around me and I tuck it away
As the setting of the sun marks the end of the day
The birds go to sleep and the bats dance ballet
And I lean in to hear the sweet nothings you say

The faint smell of smoke teases at my nose
And the rough wooden bench pulls at my clothes
The logs hiss in melody with the crickets of the night
And I’m glad to hold you snug in the firelight

The children laugh as they burn marshmallows for fun
And it feels like the fire burns like the sun
The fireflies dance in the air with the stars
Nowhere could be better than where we are

Like generations before stories are told under the sky
Of the tales in the years that have passed us by
Until the flames are reduced to embers of red
When we finally go inside and go to bed


 

For some reason, fire seems to be the easiest thing in the world to describe. Easier than love or sunlight or the cold. I have no idea why, but when I concentrate I can almost smell the smoke and hear the crackling of the logs, no matter where I am. I wrote this poem a while back and remembered it when I was working to describe something while writing.

As writers, it’s our job to make the reader feel like they’re there. Do you have a poem or short passage that utilizes at least four senses to describe the surroundings?

Your Characters Should Hold a Grudge

Your characters should be holding a grudge, possibly several of them. Not against you, of course, unless you’re George R. R. Martin, but against other characters. People that they could reasonably hold a grudge against.

I was thinking about how I owe some guy at my school named Nate a big FUCK YOU for something he did earlier last semester (deets here towards the top) and I realized that I am definitely the kind of person who holds grudges. However, my characters aren’t. They don’t remember that one time that girl got them detention in 4th grade for something they didn’t do or the time their “best friend” decided to ignore them for two year to join the popular kids. Now, just like not all people hold grudges, not all characters do. Some forgive and forget.

However, I think it’s much more fun not to have a character forgive and forget. It can give them motivation to do anything, really. Need your character to get to the next city over for the plot to progress? She has a grudge on an old bully and wants to go make him wash her car. Need your character to be caught by the hunky police officer she’s going to sleep with? Have her being caught egging the house of her ex. You know the one, the guy who stole her cat and cheated on her, not the nice one who wore sweaters. Sweater dude made nice pizza.

Grudges are a great way to add some depth to your character. Is Judy more relaxed but Sally is confrontational? Show that through a conversation about how Sally hasn’t forgiven her first grade teacher for playing favorites and Judy trying to talk her into forgetting about it. It can also add humor to a scene when Sally recounts how incredibly unfair it was that Timmy was given FOUR gummy bears but she was only give ONE. (And yes, these can be adults. Adults can be petty, and all characters need flaws.)

So, Nate, in honor of upcoming Valentine’s Day, here is my gift for you:

f

So now I don’t have to worry about flipping you off it I finally see you around campus, because all of my followers now know that I’m crazy.

What’s something one of your characters has held a grudge for?

My Bookshelf: Blur

la

Title: Blur

Author: Kristen Middleton

Genre: Urban Paranormal

Amazon Summary:
“Seventeen year old Nikki and her twin brother, Nathan, move to the small town of Shore Lake to start over after their mother is brutally attacked. When a missing teenager washes up on shore during their first night at the cabin and there are whispers of vampires in Shore Lake, Nikki begins to realize that there are things roaming in the darkness that are far more sinister than what they left behind in the city.”

My Summary:
Something happens that is entirely unrelated to the plot, then they move to VAMPIRE CITAYYYY and shit goes downhill from there.

Cheers:

  • I read it all the way through to the end. I don’t know why, but I did. It may have been one of those “it’s so bad it’s good” things. I was screaming to my boyfriend OH HE IS TOTALLY A VAMPIRE I KNOW IT and was proved right, so that was nice.
  • I liked that it was in Montana. Montana is nice. I want to live there one day, even though I hate snow.

Jeers (possible spoilers):

  • Oh dear lord, this will be quite a list. First off, the book starts off with the mom being raped by her ex-husband, who is a cop. Three months later, they move to Montana to get a fresh start on life, and she immediately flirts with the first guy who talks to her… WHO IS ALSO A COP. Like, what. I could maybe see her going for him if her ex-husband HADN’T BEEN A COP AS WELL so that she could say, “Oh, he’s a cop, I feel comfortable with him” but no, it’s just terrible. Also, the whole raped and abused by her ex-husband thing doesn’t come up again. The author should have picked something different that made them move. Like literally anything.
  • Nathan (MC’s twin brother) has a girlfriend back home and complains about leaving her then immediately flirts with everything.
  • Everything SCREAMS vampires. Like they roll up into town and some pretty girl says “Oh, there’s plenty of things to do here after dark, DUN DUN DUN.” Foreshadowing? You’re doing it wrong.
  • Nikki (the MC) falls in love with Duncan in like two days. Which the author almost handled it well, but she ended up screwing it up. You can fall in love with someone in two days, but not like that. It was poorly written.
  • Nikki (still the MC) ends up falling in love with Ethan FOR NO REASON. OH MY FUCKING GOD I WANTED TO KILL THE AUTHOR. Like, at first, it as good. “I feel these things for him because he’s using vampire powers, but it’s against my will and I don’t want it.” Like, that’s good. Realistic vampire-ness. She recognizes that they’re predators. BUT THEN SHE JUST MAKES OUT WITH HIM WILLINGLY AND SUGGESTS THAT HE FEED FROM HER AND IT’S ALL JUST SO STUPID. It’s the worst love triangle since Twilight. Actually, Twilight was better. I repeat: TWILIGHT WAS BETTER.
  • The pointless cliffhanger.
  • “Miranda.”
  • How no one seemed upset at all the dead girls.
  • How pointless the plot was.

Would I recommend it?:
NO. It COULD have worked, but it didn’t. If the author hadn’t tried writing a series just to milk readers for their money, it could have been they moved, it’s a vampire town, Ethan and the Miranda thing was fully explained, the deaths were like actually explained and investigated, and the killer Dad thing was either cut or handled realistically and made relevant, then it could have worked out even with the bad writing, but this was just one problem after another.

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Blur-Night-Roamers-Book-1-ebook/dp/B008S63B2M

 

Just Because You Can Write Doesn’t Mean You Should

I’ve known I would be a writer since I was in first grade. My teacher asked us to write three double-spaced pages about a class trip to the moon, and I wrote 10 single-spaced pages (which may be why she always hated me, I hadn’t quite mastered pronoun use at that stage of my life). I wrote “novels” until I was in high school, and then the more reading I did the better my writing got. My high school English teacher praised my writing and encouraged me to keep going, and I continue to improve now.

Writing isn’t easy, and it isn’t supposed to be. If it was, everyone could do it. Writing is a skill like anything else. You don’t expect to be good at basketball the first try or for everyone to be able to swim like an Olympian, so why does everyone seem to think that if you want to write, you can?

I’m not saying that writing should be exclusive. If you want to write, go crazy. Enjoy yourself. However, know that you might not be good enough to get published. I love soccer, but I knew I wasn’t good enough to play for college (and I was only good enough for high school because we had a no cut policy and we were constantly in need of players) so now I can only play for fun. It doesn’t bother me, because I don’t need validation as a soccer player. I know I’ll never be one of the best, but that doesn’t stop myself from enjoying the game when I play.

One of the problem with self-publishing is that it’s so easy that everyone thinks they can become an author. They devalue writing with that kind of attitude. If you like writing, that’s great. Write all you like and take criticism gracefully to allow yourself to improve, but until you honestly believe that you’re a good writer and other people agree, don’t self-publish. You would profit much more from posting your writing on a free site for people to offer helpful critiques, rather than making unsuspecting readers buy a piece of work that should have never been published and making them angry over wasting that money.

I worked in the writing center of my school and let me tell you, I saw some terrible papers. One, of them was, written. Like this. And when, I asked the, girl. Why she, was using. Unnecessary. Punctuation. She said. “I didn’t know sentences could be that long.” Another person’s phrasing was absolutely terrible, and some guy’s paper was so boring and tedious it made my eyes bleed to revise it. These people knew they were bad writers, but there are some people out there who write just as bad but want to be a writer, so they convince themselves that they’re good and that other people are wrong.

Someone asked for feedback on their book, saying that it had been rejected a bunch of times and wanted to know if it was them or the publishers. I read it, couldn’t bare to finish it, and gave her my notes on what was wrong (which was a lot of things, from characterization to plot to grammar to being unrealistic). She ignored me, bashed me for being rude, and then went on to self-publish. Do you think that that book will help the author? She’s not going to make any money on a bad book, and she’s not going to improve in her writing when the reviews will say “don’t buy this book” rather than “maybe if the characters showed some sympathy in chapter five” or “the plot needs to be wrapped up better at the end.”

General Tips to Improve Your Writing:

  1. Take criticism. If someone says “your plot is weak,” they are not being rude. If they say “THIS SUCKS” and nothing else, then they’re being rude. Ignore them and seek more specific reactions.
  2. Write more. The more you write the more you’ll improve.
  3. Read more, especially in your genre. It will help you understand how plots and sentence structure works.

Now, the title of this is a little misleading. If you like writing, I’m not telling you to stop. However, I want every self-published novel I read to be just as good as the traditionally published novels. I want the stigma of self-publishing to go away. The stigma is there because of the people who think writing is for everyone. I want everyone who self-publishes an amazing novel to be able to get the pubic to read that novel, but they can’t do that if those readers first find a terrible self-published book and now won’t touch them.

This post isn’t just criticizing bad writers, it’s just some tough love. Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you that you were a terrible singer before you went on American Idol? (Although, some of those people don’t graciously accept Simon’s decision when they’re told that they’re terrible, just like some people don’t accept that they’re bad writers when they’re told.) A general rule of thumb should be that if you can’t find at least two unbiased non-friends and non-family members who themselves are writers that say you’re a good writer, you probably need to keep practicing.

Writing is a gift, just like musical talent or athletic skills. We need to keep treating it as something special, not as something everyone can do.