writers / writing

#IWSG–Pet Peeves About Writing

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

My pet peeve about writing is:

not knowing who to believe.

My critique group has varied opinions on submittals, often different suggestions on exactly the same section. When I attend conferences, I’m likely to get opinions that are 180 degrees from two different seminars. Submitting to agents–don’t even get me started. They admit that they are looking for a particular story that is often time sensitive. Meaning: If they have too many vampire books, no matter how good mine is, they won’t take it.

Don’t get me wrong–I understand all of this. I’ve done exactly the same in all of these people’s shoes. That’s not my pet peeve. My concern is, as a writer, these truths make it difficult to know what to believe and what is simply someone’s opinion offered through the lens of their personal needs and interests.

Here’s what I do: I write my story the best way I can. When I follow a rule, I know I’m doing so. If I break one, it’s done not out of ignorance but intent. Beyond that, it’s about my voice. Is it unique enough to rise about the white noise of other authors?

I don’t know, but I hope so.

More IWSG articles:

One Valuable Lesson From Writing

It can’t be true, but research says it is!

Redo an old story? Does it work?


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

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60 thoughts on “#IWSG–Pet Peeves About Writing

  1. Insecure and writers. If ever there were two words that belonged together these are they. I didn’t know about the group. I’ll check into it; sounds great and entertaining. Regarding your pet peeve…I agree with your assessment. My intuition/gut feel is the voice that rings loudest so it gets final say. And that’s that. HA!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some years back I was a writer’s workshop and the instructor gave me the best advice, which I have posted on my pin board. “No one knows anything” He was referring to the publishing industry, and you know, he’s right.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, this is a very difficult thing to deal with, Jacqui. I never submitted my books to any publishers other than TSL Publications at the urging of a good friend of mine. Anne like them and I was happy with the terms of her contact as I retained all my book rights. I have read a lot on various blogs about rejection from publishers – very hard indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Not knowing who to believe”

    Exactly. It’s one thing when everyone in my crit group agrees with a suggestion made by one of them, but when I get totally conflicting responses, I know there’s something else going on, something below the surface I’ll have to ponder on for a while.

    No one knows all the answers. Just what seems to work for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In some ways, the world of writing and reading is so fickle. It is like going into a store of clothes. What you want to sell may be out of season or worse, out of fashion already. What you want to be may also be out of season or the store has not caught up with your preferences.

    All we can do is write with passion in hopes of touching someone’s heart. When finding something to read, all we can do is go with our desires.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jacqui – it’s always difficult – but if you’ve asked for someone’s opinion or help – then acknowledge and think about … perhaps not change … someone just asked me to comment on a talk they gave – I did … and then got told I wasn’t right -why ask?! Life and people … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It took me awhile to learn that I needed to listen, but also to trust the fact that I knew my story and my characters. However, I value the advice given, because I never know the direction it may take me, even when given with a negative connotation.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. EVERYONE sees things through their own “professional” lens. That’s the thing I’ve learned most through reading and reviewing books. It’s completely subjective, the whole industry. On critiques, if people suggest changes, I usually just see it as a “this bothered me for some reason.” If more than one person points out the same thing, it’s valid. If a publisher doesn’t want a book, there’s always someone else out there who does want it–even if it’s just specific readers. Truthfully, I think all of life is that subjective, we just don’t realize it. The key is to find the right people at the right time and surround ourselves with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree. This subjectivity is why I don’t mind at all self-publishing. To find an agent is as much luck as anything else–not withstanding that the books must be well written!

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  9. There is always this tension in the arts between authenticity of voice and writing to be published. My husband has given up on painting because of this. He paints the most gorgeous landscapes but landscapes went out of fashion. A friend of ours began to paint repeative bunnies and is quite well known now!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m tired today. Follow the rules when they serve you and the story, break them when it makes it better, but know the difference between better and laziness.

    Clear communication, no confusion, and immersive is the goal of a story for entertainment, enlightenment, education or fun. I hate getting overwhelmed with what to do or what not to do or polar information.

    I just do the best I can at the level I am at right now. My 100% today might turn that same figure into 300% in the future.

    Write with JOY that is the number one goal with intellect and knowledge.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

    Liked by 1 person

  11. If you take any great work of fiction there’ll be some who hate it, often for the same reason that others love it. Ultimately you’ve got to decide what it is that you’re trying to achieve, and listen to the advice that helps you achieve that effect.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Maybe you should ask yourself why you are asking so many people their opinion? What qualifications promote their standards? I wouldn’t even listen to those who suggest you make major changes to write “the way they would.” Those folks are not your audience and have no worthy insight.

    Ultimately, it’s your story, and you have to trust your instincts.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I hear you! I got all twisted up in different opinions about word count for a historical novel. One said 100K to 120K, one said at least 120K but ideally more, and a couple more said 80K to 100K. I decided to err on the side of caution and go with 99K.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like longer books but I think publishers think shorter. Not really sure about that anymore though. My historic fiction is about 82,000 words so far. It gets shorter every time I edit!

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  14. That’s a tricky part of writing for sure–getting opposite feedback from various readers. It’s easier when several readers agree about something. Then it’s worth changing that section or scene. But when they say the complete opposite? In that case, I guess it comes down to trusting our gut and sticking with what we feel works best for the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It is hard, Jacqui. I’ve found that when getting feedback from other authors, it’s important for me to listen and be open, because someone actually felt strong enough about a point to share it. I may not take the advice, but I will mull it over. Like you, I know (hopefully) the general writing rules and (hopefully) make good choices when I veer away. Trusting our underlying writer’s voice is important while we do the hard work of growing in our craft. It seems like so much of this is balancing act!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ultimately, that’s what being a writer is all about, writing down that voice (or those voices) inside your head. Since no one else can hear what’s in your mind, you have to be the one to interpret it for them. If they understand, good. If not, try again, or accept that maybe they are unable to understand, and that’s not your fault.

    Liked by 1 person

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