Days when you feel like punching words


As someone who writes and revises for hours every day, my confidence fluctuates.

Sometimes I envy a clever headline. Or I wish my vocabulary were bigger. I could have explained things more clearly. I need to use more humor. Add more opinion. Et cetera. Usually I read another person’s writing — someone I admire — and then hate my own.

I’m pretty sure everyone experiences this at least occasionally, but when you write for a living, it’s more common. I’m a strong writer, but we’re all learning. Constantly. I once heard that this happens in fits and starts and not all at once, which is probably true. You don’t become a master overnight; it takes years of practice.

I’ve always struggled with crafting good headlines — and encouraging discussion. I’m a shy person and a bit of an introvert, so opening up to billions of people on the Internet can be hard. But that connection is important to me. It’s what makes writing worthwhile.

So my question to you is, how do you overcome your perceived shortcomings? What do you find works best for generating comments? How do you actually improve without regressing backward?

And above all, how do you keep from losing confidence?

Or we could just say screw it and spill our guts about how terrible our writing is on Mondays and how awesome it is on Wednesdays because that’s typically how it works for me.

(Maybe the solution is red wine. Lots and lots of wine.)

New media minefield: Inching closer to danger with every word

Nightmare Busters

I love new media. I love blogging. But what I don’t like to see (and I’ve talked about this before) is an attack on writers over small mistakes or misunderstandings — a disconnect between writer and reader that usually exists because so many people on the Internet either can’t be bothered to read or use a difference in opinion as grounds for provocation.

A nasty exchange went down at Forbes today between readers and one of the games writers whose articles I read regularly. Long story short, the writer tried to show that a video game (Nightmare Busters) that’s now selling for $60 is old, not new, and available on a console most people don’t even own anymore (the Super Nintendo). While releasing games for retro consoles isn’t unheard of, $60 (the average price for today’s full console games) is a bit steep, especially when people were playing the game for free on an emulator — a program that runs games (usually illegally) on the computer and off their native platform.

But this was a different case: The game was never actually published.

What began as, “Hey, this is a game that never got released, but look, people have been playing anyway” — which is maybe what built interest and led to it getting picked up as an official release by the developer — turned into a massacre on Forbes and Twitter, where readers accused the writer of advocating piracy. Big names in the industry then lashed out, claws drawn, at their fellow writer — condemning his career, his integrity, and urging him to get out of the business.

Continue reading “New media minefield: Inching closer to danger with every word”