What Is a Writer?


You want to write, but you don’t. Or perhaps you start, but can’t bring yourself to finish, leaving a dozen promising articles or stories in various stages of incompletion. Or perhaps you finish, but can’t quite bring yourself to stuff those pages into an envelope and pop them in the mail. Your family, friends, or critique group say your work is wonderful. So what is holding you back?

What Is a Writer?  by Moira Allen

 

This scenario is far from rare. It isn’t the same as the dreaded malady we call “writer’s block.” It’s more like “submitter’s block,” and I’ve known many excellent writers who suffer from it. They produce quality work — stories, novels, articles — and earn well-deserved praise from peers in critique groups, yet balk at the thought of actually sending that work to market.

Ironically, this syndrome rarely impairs the clueless, who remain willing to send single-spaced, 40-page, grammatically challenged “short stories” into the market without a second thought. And therein lies the key: A writer must reach a certain degree of competence before s/he can begin to question that competence. And questions of competence lie at the core of “submitter’s block.”

The “am I good enough?” question plagues nearly every writer, from newbies to established authors. New writers find the question particularly difficult, because they have less “external information” on which to base an answer. But even if you’ve sold several pieces, you may feel qualms if you try to break into a different subject area or better-paying market, or to switch from nonfiction to fiction or from short pieces to book-length manuscripts. Read entire article

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