Focusing on the Right Thing

I’ve seen this kind of sentiment whispered around the blogosphere from time to time, and I’m sure we’ve all had it cross our minds in one form or another. We see a book, sometimes even a really popular book, and think:

That got published? I can write better than that!

And that attitude can all too quickly snowball into:

I can’t believe what the industry is coming to. Look at the crap that gets through these days. Why aren’t agents, editors, readers paying attention to me when my stuff is so much better than this dreck!?

This is a big mistake. Huge. Besides the fact that all those negatives aren’t true, is that really what we want to focus on? Really?

Why waste our time and energy bad-mouthing people when we could be focusing on the other side? On those authors we admire. The ones who make us want to stretch ourselves and teach us how to get to that next level in our writing.

It’s a much healthier cycle to find a new book and say:

Wow, that got published. Someday, I’m going to write like that!


  1. Good advice; I've had that feeling in the past (though it's always accompanied by a tinge of envy). You're right; it's much better to look up to someone than to look down your nose at someone else.

    Jamie at Mithril Wisdom

  2. When I complain about the dreck being published by the industry (and I do think there is lots of dreck) I do so as a reader not as a writer. As a reader, I'm truly sick of not being able to find any quality work that suits my tastes being published in recent decades. (I've mostly retreated into the past for my reading material.)

    As a writer, I know there's no use in thinking that just because you could writer better than a particular book and/or author that means you deserve to be published. Because I'm cynical enough to know that getting published has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with perceived saleability.

    At the same time, I think it's equally possible to learn valuable lessons from positive examples as negative ones. It's all very well and good for people to say "you should begin when the story really starts" but until you've read a book where the entire first part was boring and completely unnecessary, that's abstract advice. When you can sit down with a book and say "Wow, that was terrible, I see now why it's really not a good idea to do that" you can become a better writer.

  3. That is really good advice! I love coming across those books that inspire you to be a better writer.

  4. Yeah, we all do that from time to time, don't we? But it's like that movie I talked about on my blog today. Someone out there liked it, even though I thought it was pretty bad. People like different things for different reasons. Making comparisons between our writing journey and other people's is usually a bad path to go down.

  5. Nice positive spin on things! I think it all comes down to subjectivity. What one person likes someone else dislikes. I'm grateful there are so many books to choose from because there's something for us all!

  6. Thanks for the positive vibe. I need that on this day of revisions...ugh!

  7. Even more so, we should be cheering on others who get published. That we make friends and enlarge our contacts. It's a win/win.

    BTW, did you see that I left you a message on facebook? Yeah, laughed my guts out at the post left me :)

  8. Jamie - That's a great way of putting it!

    Miss Cole - Glad you like it.

    Sarah - You can definitely learn from all kinds of reading.

    Cherie - Me too!

    L.G. - Good comparison. You're totally right.

    Emily - I agree. Variety is fantastic!

    Jenn - Glad to help. Good luck with the revisions.

    J.A. - I did see that. Isn't it hilarious?!

  9. Amen! We need to focus on the positive and on ourselves.

  10. That's how I see things, too. Hence my craft book addiction. :D

  11. That's so true! The positive will get us so much farther.

  12. Good thoughts Nicole! Always important to stay positive and focus on what people do good! :)

  13. Alex - Exactly!

    Stina - Craft books are great tools.

    Christine - Agreed.

    Livia - Thanks.

    Leigh - Yup, the good is always the better option.

  14. Wise words! And I love your picture surrounded by books. I have too many, but imagine trying to pose with just an e-book, not quite the same thing, although I see their value, I do.

  15. how bout, someday someone might say that about me! i better get to work!
    everyone has an audience!

  16. Great advice! That could easily turn into not pushing yourself because you think, hey, it's still better than that rubbish. I think the best way is to be the best that you can be without constantly comparing to others, but it's also great to aspire to your favourite authors.

  17. Great post. While I have read less than wonderful books, I feel like I've read a lot more great ones! I tend to be the other way. Holy crap this is awesome, how am I ever going to get published?! I can't compete with this! ;)