Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm-No-Good-itis Strikes Again...but it could be worse

(Don't forget to go here to enter my Linky Love contest in celebration of my blogiversary. I'm giving away 4 signed books to the lucky winner!)

I recently sat through an entire day of training offered by the Boy Scouts of America. It was training to teach me how to train others to do their jobs more effectively (titled, appropriately, the Trainer's EDGE). There was much taught there that also applied to public speaking. Though I've never been nervous in front of people (trust me, I routinely make a fool out of myself in front of large groups of Scouters and their families, plus I spent my entire childhood/teen years singing in front of full auditoriums), it was enlightening to listen to some of the dos and don'ts they suggested when addressing large or small crowds.

(My favorite part of this training, however, was making and flying paper airplanes. Man, BSA is my kind of organization. Those people know how to have fun.)

Anyway, one thing listed in the training session was: don't apologize for the things you don't do right or well.

I got to thinking about this phrase, and how appropriate it is for writers, too. There have been many times when I've handed a manuscript to my crit buddies and apologized for all the missing parts and rough edges (and I've even been guilty of doing this when handing something to my agent, too). I am embarrassed that it's not perfect, so I make excuses. I have that debilitating disease called "I'm-No-Good-itis."

I am trying to overcome my I'm-No-Good-itis, but it's hard work. It's easy to second-guess yourself, especially in a business where subjectivity rules. One email may say your book is outdated and will never sell, while another uses the word "love" and "offer" in the same paragraph. But we shouldn't ever feel like we need to apologize.

Let me say that again.

We shouldn't ever feel like we need to apologize.

On the other hand, however, I do know a few authors who have the opposite problem: Big Head Syndrome. I hope I'm never one of those people who think my opinion should be revered and that the masses should bow down to me whenever I grace their presence. Humility and I'm-No-Good-itis aren't the same thing, and a little humility never hurt anyone. I'm just sayin'...


  1. You're right, Humility does NOT equal "no-good-itis". I completely agree. Just write it. Work it out. Rewrite it and do what you need to do. Submit it, but don't apologize for doing your best. If you are feeling unsure of yourself, try to figure out WHY. But don't give someone else a reason to hate a manuscript before they even look at it. Seriously, if you aren't confident in your writing, why will anyone else be?

    (I don't advocate for the Big Head syndrome, though. Having confidence does NOT equal "big-head-syndrome" either.)

  2. Sing it, wordwranglernc! (And thanks for commenting!)

  3. Great advice. Another tip that goes with it that I received a while ago -- when somebody offers you a compliment, fight no-good-itis by simply saying "thank you". You don't need to say "thank you, but it's really not that great", or "thank you, it took me seventeen tries", or "thank you, the lady up the street does it better. The other person is offering you a compliment as a gift. Be gracious and accept!

  4. I suffer from that as well. It has gotten to the point where it has been a few years since I have sat down and written anything, although I have been longing to get back into it lately.

  5. Amie--you're right. That is a good tip. A simple thank you is all that's needed.

    Tarra--get back to that writing! I know how much you love it. (How are you, anyway? I haven't heard from you in a while.)