Forge On, Brave Writers

18 Jan

by June Hur


You browse through FictionPress and find a story written in the same genre as you, with the same number of chapters as you, but…this author has more reviews than your story does.

 In this case:
a. You think you are a bad writer
b. For at least a moment you doubt your writing talent
c. Being beaten by 2000+ reviews ruins your day completely
d. You read over the story you were once proud of, which now fills you with shame
e. You grind your teeth
f. You feel discontent with yourself
g. You are indifferent and still think you’re the best writer

If you chose “g” then . . . you’re a lucky duck. But, generally speaking, Writerly Jealousy or Writerly Low Self-Esteem is a common cold that many writers suffer once, or several times, throughout their writing career.

However, even though there will always be writers better than you, you cannot allow jealousy, or the feeling of inferiority, eat away at your love of writing. You need to turn this negative emotion into a fuel that will drive you to want to write better.

Many of the biographies I’ve read were about writers who did not receive instant recognition. Many were about writers who died and then became famous. If these writers, who are now deemed to be literary geniuses, had listened to the voice that said “Why write when there are so many others better than you?” we would have a very small collection of classics in our library. And that would suck for us.

Likewise, I’ll wager that there are some of you, right now, who are reading this article and shaking your head, saying that you love writing, but are a not-good-enough of a writer. Yet I can just see your life being made into one of those Hollywood movies: Writer loves to write, writes a story, is crushed by the reviews (or the lack thereof), goes through a period of depression, is sent to a therapist, then is locked up in a psychiatric hospital for years, and finally decides to give writing another try, and ends up in a crowd of flashing cameras and news reporters and fans. Movie ends; the credits will roll. The audiences in the theatre will sniffle and wipe their teary eyes on their way out. They’ll slip out their phones while lining up in the washroom, tweeting: If you love to write, persevere, and your passion will shine through.


June Hur is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the responses of two agents that requested a partial of her manuscript. When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.


8 Responses to “Forge On, Brave Writers”

  1. Victoria January 18, 2010 at 9:40 AM #

    I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I’ve been having a bit of trouble with the above but reading this made me feel much better 🙂

  2. junebugger January 18, 2010 at 11:17 AM #

    Thank YOU for reading and taking the time to drop a comment : ) I really appreciated it. Knowing that this article has helped someone makes me glad that I took time out of my crazy school life to write this.

    Best of luck with your writing!


  3. Rowenna January 18, 2010 at 1:27 PM #

    Great post, June–writerly jealousy can be pretty insidious. I think it helps to have friends who are writers, and to read personal reflections by other writers, like this, because it makes you realize that everyone doubts their abilities, even people you think are invincibly good! Plus, there may be better writers, but no one can write *your* story better than you can 🙂

    • junebugger January 19, 2010 at 12:11 AM #

      Great point there, Rowenna. Though there might be writers better than person A, only person A can write her/his story best. I actually never thoughts of that…

  4. Armith-Greenleaf January 18, 2010 at 6:41 PM #

    Well, I’ll use my introductory reply to tackle one of my most frequent (undoubtedly lamest, but real) problem.

    That above… is the story of my recent life; well, not the movie part.

    There’s another shade to this picture: Reading something that has obviously garnered more attention than your work, understanding the possible different reasons as to why, and not being able to do anything about it because you won’t compromise your own vision and style to please the masses, other than wish someone would realize your thing isn’t too shabby either.

    That’d be a bit of a fairy tale moment.

    But, I’m sure you know, the real answer is staying true to yourself. FP offers plenty of opportunities, so it’s not all lost. The only problem is that human nature gets in the way of truly thinking like g., so the insecurity comes back every time someone else’s numbers look so far out of reach.

    To forge on and deal with it, that’s the key, I think. It doesn’t mean it’s an easy task.

    Best Wishes from AG

    • junebugger January 19, 2010 at 12:22 AM #

      Hey, thanks for dropping by.

      Staying true to one’s self is something I found (and still find) to be very difficult. When I used to write on FP, I found myself compromising my vision to please the audience. So even now, when I try to start a new project, I’m not asking myself: What do “I” want to write. BUT what do the readers want to read? –of course, I know it’s important to write for the readers, as writing is, after all, a business.

      I think the massive number of reviews one writer gets, compared to the little another receives, comes down to–how well a writer has established herself. I think this is a major point. Fictionpress is like a miniature of the publishing market. A great debut author will naturally be outshined by a more established author who has been churning out books every years. EVEN if she weren’t that great, she’s steadily built a fanbase over a longer period of time.

      But, rather than giving ourselves excuses, you’re very right, it’s most crucial to forge on and deal with it. And it certainly is not an easy task. It’s painful. But being a writer would be no fun without these moments of emotional turmoil 😀

      • Armith-Greenleaf January 19, 2010 at 1:44 AM #

        That’s right. I’ve been stubborn on that part and write only what I want, how I like it and the way I want it. I know some people don’t really appreciate my… pace, because they’re used to instant-gratification like pace, but I consider that my business. It has its pros and cons, I know.

        And precisely that’s what makes the situation difficult. I analyze FP as a market as well; it’s very close to the reality. As I’ve belted years on the site (not that many, four-ish) I’ve realized one of my problems is “marketing” and all that entails. It’s really not easy to get a breakthrough when thousands of people remain set on looking another way.

        At any rate, what I’m trying to do is dealing with it; that’s why I ‘had’ to reply to your post. It hit home.

        Writing is a truckload of fun. I can’t believe how it’s become such an important part of my life when my university career couldn’t be further away from it. But that’s life for you.

        Best Wishes from AG

  5. junebugger January 19, 2010 at 12:57 PM #

    I think “instant-gratification” is something only mandatory in genre fiction. But…it doesn’t seem to be so much so with literary works. Well, hope everything will work out for you! I’m pretty sure that the responses to one’s work would be much more different when published into a book.

    Best of luck!

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