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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Writing Pitfall #2: Talking More Than Writing

Let's face it--writers are full of themselves. How else could we assume that people will actually pay to read the products of our thoughts and imagination? It's a pretty big assumption.

So being a bit arrogant is actually part of the muse, but one flaw I see in a lot of beginning writers is that they spend more time talking about being a writer than actually writing. They boast to all their friends about the great novel they're working on, when in fact they haven't made it past page ten after five months of "work". They get into flame wars on newsgroups, arguing about all the tired controversies that crop up continually in such places, when they should be saving that energy for their writing.

My advice--shut up and write!

Yes, this blog counts as talking about writing, but I spend about sixty hours a week writing, researching, editing, or pitching, so I've earned the right to gab a bit. :-)

Cynthia Hope Clark talked about this on her blog recently, along with other common mistakes. She makes the point that you can end up diluting the creative process if you talk about your work in progress too much.


  1. This is a double-edged sword for those who want to independently publish their works. On the one hand, you need to be writing and generating content. On the other hand, you need to drum up some interest on what you're writing so you'll have an audience!

    For me, I spent a long time blogging about books and movies before I made serious inroads towards writing a novel, and that did help create a small audience when I released my book. I'm now starting a few columns on writing, not to "talk about my writing" but to talk more about self-publishing, to go over my technical workflow and lessons learned so that my successes and mistakes can be shared with other people.

    That having been said, I'm also working on getting my WW2 book out the door sometime in early to mid-August...

  2. As long as you write more than you talk, you're good. I wish I could say everyone I've met on the Kindle boards did the same. . .
    I'm looking forward to the WWII book. You know I'm more of a historical writer/reader than contemporary. :-)

  3. You have me beat! I do good to catch three hours a night after work and a little more on the weekends. I'll mention my progress once in a while, but I'll be more excited when I get to announce the book's release.

    1. Well, you have a day job. Writing is my day job so it's not a fair comparison. :-) You certainly put in way more writing time than most people who have a day job.

  4. I agree with Cynthia about diluting the effort. I tend to be more private with my work. (must walk the talk)

    Most serious writers make sure they do the writing, it's the perfectionism in revision that gets in the way. I hesitate to talk about 'how' to write, but rather 'how I write'.

    I've seen writers in many writing classes who only want the 'secret formula' for success, and many are trying to sell expertise they don't have. Too many experts, and not enough writers? Thanks for motivating us to get to it, Sean.


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