This week’s guest post is coming to you from a fellow writing coach, Anna-Marie O’Brien. Anna-Marie describes herself as a “little bit OCD+ADD+ESP and an INFJ.” And I can tell you from experience that she’s easily one of the most intuitive people I’ve ever met. If you’re looking for someone to help get you unstuck as you write your book, Anna-Marie is very definitely who you’ve been looking for. Big thanks to her for contributing this awesome piece on why your progress as a writer might not fit the conventional norms.
Before I started my memoir, my idea of book writing was that it was a linear process—you show up to the page, you write your 500 words a day in perfect form, and in a few months you have a beautiful, publishable book. According to the writers I was studying, there were no pauses, breaks, or blocks allowed. Daily habit is a big theme among writers, and I was assured that if I showed up to the page every day, the muse would find me and the words would flow effortlessly.
Out of the entire world population, writers are the harshest on themselves when it comes to self-judgment.
No, I haven’t done a study or anything, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was true. Based on the emails I get from writers, and the blog posts I read written by writers, I can see clearly that self-judgement is one of the biggest, ugliest problems we deal with on a constant basis.
Writers who are new to the game often believe they’re at a disadvantage. They don’t have years of experience. They don’t quite know what they’re doing yet. They don’t have the connections and contacts more seasoned writers might have. They don’t understand the publishing business.
While all these things might be true, there is one very important area in which new writers have a HUGE advantage. I was reminded of this last night while I played with my three-year-old son.
You are such a fraud.
As a writer, how many times have you heard your inner critic say that to you whenever someone compliments your work? What if your work comes up for an award or you get an awesome review from a total stranger?
How about the times you hear that phrase just because you dared to say out loud to someone that you—yes, YOU—are a writer?
For me, it has been thousands and THOUSANDS of times.
Every time I tell someone I write transgressive fiction the first question I get is, “What’s transgressive fiction?” If we’re talking in person, I explain it as best I can (usually not very well). But if we’re emailing I send them the definition cut and pasted from Wikipedia:
Transgressive fiction is a genre of literature which focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways.
Because they are rebelling against the basic norms of society, protagonists of transgressive fiction may seem mentally ill, anti-social, or nihilistic. The genre deals extensively with taboo subject matters such as drugs, sexual activity, violence, incest, pedophilia, and crime.
That definition is actually a very good one. It definitely covers all the bases. However, every time I send it to someone to explain the kind of fiction I write, I feel weird.