Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blog Chain: I Suck Syndrome

Today's blog chain was started by Amparo who asks:

t's a new year, and some writers have taken it upon themselves to switch things up. *points at self* It might be the genres you write in or your revision process. It might be your main character's voice. What's one thing you've chosen to change in your writing this new year? Why do you wish to change it? If there's nothing you're going to change, why do you think it should remain as is?

 It's so funny Amparo would choose to ask this question because I was literally thinking about this just the other day. For me, if I could change one thing about my writing, it would be the speed at which I write. Typically, I can finish (write and edit) approximately two books a year but I would love to make that number "three." And I've been giving it a lot of thought as to how I might increase this number.

One of the biggest threats to my writing is my self confidence. Nothing can push me to a grinding halt faster than a bout of "I suck" which, thanks to a negative influence in my childhood, I suffer with "I suck" all the time. I've never been one of those writers who writes because they think they're bestowing some gift on the world with their prose. No, I write because it's something I enjoy doing. It's healing for me--almost like meditation. And sometimes I get a check for it which makes it all the better.

Because of my "I suck syndrome" or "ISS" I've lived (and still do) in constant fear of being judged and being judged harshly. In fact, if I try something and am not instantly good at it, it scares the hell out of me and I usually give it up (guitar, gardening, any and all sports, etc.) Writing was the first thing I pursued through my ISS and it was hard. Each harsh critique felt like a punch in the gut, each rejection a kick to the face. But what I think pulled me through it is the fact that with writing, you can suffer with ISS alone, the rejections and criticism are seldom done in public. I say seldom because there was this one time an agent told me that, "while you're writing is okay, it doesn't make me want to put you in a bag and take you to New York with me," in front of a crowd of onlookers. It was all I could do not to melt into a puddle on the floor right then and there.

What I've found works for me in avoiding a flare up of ISS, and to keep my writing flowing, is to cut myself off from anything that might cause me self  doubt. So my resolutions for writing this year are to avoid the following:

1. Goodreads. It's true that I have way more good reviews than bad ones. And while I'm to the point where I'm mostly numb to bad reviews, there's still the occasional one that will cut me to the core. And when I'm doubting myself, I can't write. So I'm better off staying away.

2. Publisher's Marketplace. It's a great website for finding out about the latest book deals. But it's also a great way to start to doubt yourself (Why didn't I get a book deal like that? How come I haven't sold foreign rights? It must be because I suck...) as well as resent other writers' successes when I should be celebrating with them. So I'm going to stay away. What I don't know can't hurt me.

3. Twitter. I love Twitter. I love interacting with other writers and readers. There's no way I could give it up entirely, but I'm definitely creating a resolution to spend less time there for the same reason I'm going to avoid Publisher's Marketplace. For as much as I love Twitter, there's a lot of "Look at me! I got a new sale! I got a movie deal! I made a major list! Etc." And there's nothing wrong with that. I love celebrating the successes of my friends. But when I'm suffering from a bout of ISS, sometimes these heralds of good tidings feel like salt in my already very open wounds.

So those are my resolution for the coming year. I'm confident with these changes I can stave off the ISS which has always resulted in a more productive, happier Cole. In fact, it's only January and I already have one book almost halfway finished. Who knows? Maybe I can push my goal to four!

So how about you? Do you suffer from I suck syndrome "ISS", too? What things do you do to combat it?

For more writing goals, please check out Alyson's post from yesterday and make sure to see what Amparo has to say about the subject tomorrow.

Happy Wednesday!



  1. ISS is my middle name. That's why I have four books hidden away in the vaults of my computer. They feel so safe and cozy in there, all locked away with passwords and such. I just don't think that I personally will ever be up to the criticism, at least not yet. ;) But you my friend rock, and I can't wait to bribe you for more autographs and coffee. <3


    Your syndrome is the kind of thing I punch in the face. I feel it all the time, but with just one punch, I destroy it. Yes, I am a violent person. Please don't tell my therapist. O_O

    In all seriousness, you rock. You're awesome. Your resolutions are perfectly reasonable. I'm supporting you through it all. *tackle hugs*

  3. Aw! Thanks, girls. You guys are the best.