When You Finally Accept You Are Not A Literary Genius #SundayBlogShare #AmWriting

When we decide to become a writer we secretly believe it is a matter of time before we are regarded as a literary genius.

It is such an awkward moment for a writer when they finally accept they are NOT a literary genius and are just an average writer.

There are several stages to this creative heartbreak:

  1. Dreamer. You enter the writing world secretly convinced you are a literary genius. In your head once your first book is written it will be a literary game changer. All the other famous best-selling authors can step aside because you are coming through! You have been threatening to write a best seller for years and now its time for you to show family and friends that you can hit the best seller charts. Off you happily skip over to your laptop with your head full of Booker Prize nominations, book signing queues and that expensive country farmhouse you have had your eye on. All you have to do is bang out your first book and the rest will be history. You don’t have a story in mind but that’s just minor detail. When a relative says “I bet you are going to be the next J.K. Rowling”  you give them a cheeky wink back followed by “I know – watch this space!”  (For noting I thought this stage was amazing).
  2. Denial. You start writing some stuff. When you read it back to yourself it moves you to tears. It is pure literary gold.  You have done the unthinkable, you have entered the literary world with no previous writing experience, no  writing related weaknesses or faults and your writing is world-class. You were right about yourself – you are a literary genius! Once you have typed out a few pages you then present it to a loved one or you stick it on your blog saying to yourself “they are not going to know what’s hit them!”  The non-existent to lukewarm reaction to your work is not what you were expecting. Your loved one glanced at your writing, put it to one side and carried on watching the sport on TV. Your blog post only received a handful of views and some comments about watching your grammar. You ignore them all. Huh – what do they know? There is nothing wrong with your grammar. You carry on believing that you are a literary genius. Sigh! (For noting I also loved this stage!).
  3. Struggle. Over time you start to struggle with the label that you have given yourself, the literary genius label. The world doesn’t seem to be falling over itself to read your work, it took you months to get past 15,000 words on your first novel, the writing feedback is suggesting that you have some areas of improvement, writer’s block is a weekly occurrence, you haven’t won any writing competitions run by publishing firms and even though you hate to admit it – you have read some amazing and earth shattering stuff written by other writers. This was not supposed to happen!
  4. Frustration. You start to get frustrated with yourself. Surely the world is missing something with your work? In your head it was going to be a lot different. Cue the creative tantrums and low moods, as you battle against the reality of the world not seeing you as a literary genius. After a lot of tears, door slamming, cheese binges, creative breakdowns, spot outbreaks, large glasses of wine, soul-searching, long car drives listening to sad songs, walking around with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp and screaming “I quit!”  on a daily basis you begin to see yourself in a new light.
  5. Hope. You decide to ditch the label literary genius. No one starts out as a literary genius. You tell yourself that writing is something which needs to be worked at. So you start to regard yourself as an above average writer.  It doesn’t have the same ring to it but its a lot easier to live up to. Plus the above average  label sets you apart from the rest. Sigh! You have stopped crying over your negative feedback and have started to looking at ways you can improve your weaknesses. You have come to realise that writing a book is hard and not something you can bang out at a moment’s notice. It’s going to take time. You tell yourself that this is the start of your writing journey and you will simply see where it takes you (the expensive farmhouse is still in play).

Be careful out there all you above average writers!

Photo: Stocksnap

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I am a blonde writer of romantic comedy fiction.

44 thoughts on “When You Finally Accept You Are Not A Literary Genius #SundayBlogShare #AmWriting

  1. I suspect this is one of the reasons I have stopped being an editor and hate reading work that people haven’t put a lot of effort into. Far too many people forget to tell their own story because they want to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. That level of success is, realistically speaking, a long shot. It always has, always will be. That doesn’t mean people cannot shine on their own though.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

  2. I have a rich dream life to take me down a peg or two. When I first started writing, I had this dream where I showed someone my manuscript. They read it and bluntly said, “you’re a third rate writer.”

    “Third rate?” I gasped.

    “Sure,” they said with a shrug. “First rate are people like Hemingway, King or Shakespeare. Second rate are all those who are much better writers than you. People who’ve been at it for ages. And then there’s you. Third rate.”

    Turns out my subconscious is quite the critic. So, I’m now struggling to become a second rate writer…

  3. This made me laugh because it’s so true. I remember thinking my first book was a masterpiece. Then I learned the truth as it was flayed and decapitated. Editing that thing into something palatable took 2 years of pure agony. Yet, it was a great learning experience (in more ways than one). Now, as long as I’m having fun, I’m happy.

  4. Oh man! This is priceless! Truly! :p Goodness knows I’ve hit each one of these stages and I can, sadly, remember them (looking back at them makes me both sad and humored because it was pitiful how amazing I thought I was in high school. Bahaha!)

    Though, of all the stages, I like the last one the most because it shows a sense of growth and maturity, a sense of understanding and revelation. It’s my favorite stage. It’s the stage where I have shown the most improvement and when it comes right down to it, improvement has been one of my favorite parts of writing. (Looking back on my old work scares me. 0.0)

    Oh! And being the next J.K. Rowling is overrated. I don’t even write fantasy. :p

  5. …I’m killing myself laughing here. I started off with the idea no-one would want to read my ‘stuff’ — now I KNOW they don’t. It’s so good to be right, but it would be even better to be proved wrong. I’m thinking I might be ‘discovered’ after I kick the bucket — say in about 50 years… In the meantime, I’ll just keep on writing for the pure love of it — hopefully getting better with every story I write.

  6. Very entertaining post 🙂 Those first three stages sound nice – unfortunately I’ve always had a crippling insecurity about my writing, and have to force myself to inflict it on the outside world, lol. I’m hoping that with copious practice I’ll reach a level I’m not horribly ashamed of.

  7. Brilliant but of course doesn’t apply to me because I know I’m a genius. The other day I had an idea for a short story based on your stage one, I might write it later in the week if I get time.

  8. I love this. in one of my books I have a writer character say honestly that EVERY writer in the entire globe wants EVERY reader living or yet to come to love EVERY word the writer has EVER written. no exceptions. every honest writer in the dark night of the soul will admit to this.

  9. Freedom is writing because you love to do it and forgetting the labels. Shakespeare almost ended up in obscurity. Debussy was threatened with expulsion from his school of music for his compositions. People who were never considered artistic geniuses in their lifetimes can end up to be the icons remembered for centuries while their more popular counterparts end up in the File 13 of obscurity. 🙂

  10. The problem is that the “literary genius” you describe can’t see himself. I particularly liked, “…some comments about watching your grammar. You ignore them…” I’m always amazed at how many “literary geniuses” don’t realize that writing is about words. They figure that’s what editors are for.

    I wrote one book and I have a blog (all nonfiction about Italy), and I have to admit that when people introduce me as “the writer,” I look around for someone else and then I think, “How easily people throw around that word.”

  11. LOL. I loved this. The rollercoaster ride that is writing. The crushing realisation that the booker judges aren’t falling over themselves to read those 15,000 words that took me forever to write and the defeated acceptance that if I’m going to write something worthwhile it’s going to take so much longer than I ever thought possible!

  12. I think I’m hitting “just average” at the moment.
    Aiming for above average by continuing to write, get feedback and developing that way. We’ll see how that goes. Any other ideas welcomes.
    Thanks for this post x

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