While the vast majority of writers and aspiring writers struggle with self-deprecating thoughts, there’s another category of authors that believe they are God’s gift to writing and authorship. These guys believe that they’re so fantastic that you could spend 10 lifetimes working on your craft and still not measure up to their skill. While it’s great to believe that your work is amazing and to have pride in it, it’s harmful to believe that you are the absolute best of the best and that every other writer is shit.
1. The Writing Industry Isn’t as Big as You Think It Is
There aren’t that many people working in the writing industry. There are thousands upon thousands of writers. There are thousands of editors. There are a few hundred literary agencies and a couple thousand agents. There are a few thousand publishers, and they all talk to each other. If you are a complete and utter asshole, word gets around. At some point, it won’t matter what your income potential is because there is a point where you aren’t worth the hassle at any price.
US Author, Editor and Publisher Statistics
Agents – 600 literary agencies and about 2,000 agents (numbers depend on where you look)
Authors – 45,210
Editors – 118,000 jobs available (editor employment numbers were not forthcoming)
Publishers - 2815
2. Your Overconfidence Will Lead to Mistakes
As a general rule, individuals who are overconfidentbelieve that they know everything about the topics they’ve studied and underestimate their knowledge on what they do not know. In other words, the overconfident are going to assume they are correct regardless of their actual level of knowledge. When these individuals are presented with facts, statistics and irrefutable evidence that they’re assumptions are wrong, they will only minimally adjust their thinking.
When it comes to writing, assuming that you are perfect and that your work needs no adjustment can lead to you putting out a fatally flawed book. While it may have no typos or grammatical errors, because you’re a perfectionist, your book may still be fatally flawed in its design or research.
For example, if you are writing a historical book set in the 1600s, and you write: Jill put on her panties then took a look at her girdle. Panties or knickers were not commonly available until the 19th century. The ancient Egyptians and other tribal peoples wore loincloths. The Romans were known for either wearing loincloths or short-like articles of clothing called subligaculum, but panties certainly weren’t part of the clothing choices or in the vocabulary.
The best-case scenario for a flaw of this nature is that your readers will simply laugh at you. The worst-case scenario means they leave reviews on your book, stating that you didn’t do any research. It took me about 5 minutes to look up the history of underwear.
3. You Will Stop Learning and Advancing
If you already believe that you know everything there is to know about writing and crafting novels, you will cease to learn anything else. Once you stop learning about your craft, you will stop advancing. Writing styles and book formatting have changed over time, and they continue to change.
For example, it used to be acceptable to write dialogue like this: “I’m going to the store now,” Jill sighed and grumbled as she waited impatiently for her husband to hand her the grocery list.
Today, that same dialogue should look like this:
“I’m going to the store now,” Jill said as she looked at her husband. She sighed and tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for him to finish the grocery list.
It’s also no longer acceptable to put in a bunch of “crazy formatting” because it can distract your READERS!!!!!! (I mean really. Limit your use of “quotes outside dialogue”, italics, bold, words that are all CAPITALIZED and incredible amounts of punctuation!!!!!!! (And don’t get me started on excessive use of parenthesis.))
4. You Won’t Accept Advice or Critiques, Even if You Paid for It
Because you believe you’re God’s gift to writing and story creation, you will be less likely to accept advice, critiques and edits, even if you paid for the services. While it’s okay to take criticisms of your work with a grain of salt and tell yourself that the editor, reviewer or reader didn’t understand what they were reading or didn’t understand the topic or what you were trying to do, if you get the same advice multiple times, it’s time to take it seriously. If your main character if frequently referred to as a weak pansy, and you didn’t intend for that character to come across as weak, you need to make some changes, preferably before you go to publication.
Just remember, you can be confident in your work and have a healthy self-esteem about your writing quality, but being overconfident can keep you from developing your skill and putting out your best book each and every time you publish.