It Takes Guts To Suck

This post is brought to you by a more excellent than usual post from Susan Bischoff: Respect For The Gifts. The highest of high recommendations for this one. Here’s the part that jumped out at me:

When someone writes to me about writing, I’ve got to find a way to be positive, no matter what kind of grammar I’m looking at. That’s part of my job. And no matter how bad the mechanics are in the letter, the most important part to me is that someone wanted to be a writer enough to write and ask for advice. I respect that.

And I respect her.

As artists we can be very sensitive about our art. We’re sensitive to begin with and to let eyes on our work, particularly to critique it, is quite a step. I think it’s harder than sharing with the masses because by then it should be polished. But before that . . . it’s far from.

When I went after my author dream in earnest I eventually came to a Ready To Go To The Next Level, um, level. And I had an image of the talent I had. Then came the hard truth that there was more work to do.

So now the task was to improve in areas I didn’t know existed and in my case improvement didn’t come in one shot. It didn’t come in ten shots.

Question after question I asked Susan and Kait. They answered and I still didn’t get it.

They asked me some questions and if I did have an answer, it was wrong.

But I kept asking and they kept answering. They might’ve been getting a little frustrated. I know I was. It felt like I was becoming an expert at being wrong at things.

Until I said something right.  It was just once, but the fun thing about saying something right is once is all you need. Once you’re right you get to keep that win and add it to

The Trophy Shelf of Rightitute!

Don’t be afraid to suck. Suck hard, suck long, suck until you don’t think it’s possible for you to suck any more than you’re sucking. Because you never know, your moment to not suck could be right around the corner. The suckage isn’t fun at the time, but I think that makes eventual “right” moment all the better. It’s earned. It’s a cool war story to tell your friends or others in the same boat you were.

And it’s part of learning.

Now get out there and SUCK!

12 comments on “It Takes Guts To Suck

  1. I was writing to myself this morning, trying to put into words the strange fear I felt just behind me, looking over my shoulder, and I realized it was this. The fear of sucking and the fear of making a mistake.

    But it is how we learn. It’s not that you make a mistake, it’s how you handle it that counts.

    Thanks, Andrew, for another insightful post!

  2. Oh, I love this. Embrace your suckage. It really DOES take guts to suck, but what takes even more guts is to pull yourself out of the suckhole and improve instead of giving up because you suck. When we start out in this gloriously crazy field, we all suck. We think we’re brilliant, but we’re cliche-ridden morons with sucky grammar and poor plotting and crappy characterization. We won’t even talk about dialogue, but usually, at the start, it’s beyond mere suckage.. But because we don’t give up, because we listen to people when they tell us WHY we suck, someday we suddenly find that we stopped sucking.

    And my God, that was a lot of “suck” variations. So much for showing off my incredible grasp on vocabulary. LOL

  3. Nothing great was ever achieved without the achiever squaring off with the potential for failure and taking a risk. And, really, failure is just another lesson learned. Great post!

  4. Great post, Andrew! We all suck at some point. But the part that takes courage is not giving up when you realize it.

  5. You are so lucky to have a great relationship with Kait and Susan. Trust me, I’m right there wtih you. While no one has flat out said that I suck, I have been feeling it lately.

  6. Great post! I just wrote a blog post this morning (for later publication) about mistakes I’ve made and how I’m proud of them. Love this post! 🙂

  7. I’ve always told myself if I didn’t fail at something every day, then I didn’t learn anything that day. Sometimes learning to keep on going is the hardest lesson of all.

  8. @Nina- You’ve got the right attitude. Just take it day by day and tell yourself, “Today I’ll suck, but tomorrow I won’t.”

    @Sharon- No “suck” it that comment. I loved it!

    @Kait- So eloquent. You should seriously consider a quotable Kait calendar.

    @LL- Exactly. Our persistence makes every victory so incredible.

    @Tiffany- Make sure you don’t let it get you down. You can’t be great unless you suck first. And as I learn new things, you know I’ll share that knowledge here.

    @Jen- Oh, cool! I’ll be on the look out.

    @Linda- That’s such a great way to look at failure. Thanks for sharing that.

  9. If you’ve never sucked, you’ve never tried. That’s the way I look at it whenever I doubt myself. I’d rather be wrong every single time than never try at all. I don’t know what your questions were, but I bet you’ll make sense of all of it. Every single writer has weak points, but they have strong ones as well, just don’t forget about those when it gets frustrating.

  10. The fear of sucking consumes me. D:

    I *know* I should feel okay about sucking, but it’s just really hard to come to terms with. I tend to fall into black holes of procrastination when I examine anything I write closely because I know it sucks. Counterproductive, much?

    I think all of us secretly want to be that person whose critique partners go “omfg that’s brilliant!”. That person doesn’t exist though. 😛

    • Any crit partner who tells you everything you write is brilliant, is not a good crit partner. Once you’ve got someone willing to tell you the truth, you’re in a fantastic place. Your weaknesses are out in the open and can be FIXED.

      It can be scary, but you should take the plunge and let someone you trust read you work.

      • Oh definitely! I agree that crit partners need to be blunt, and if they simply gush about your work then they’re not good for you. I have a couple of friends who I ask to tear apart whatever I’ve written, but it’s definitely scary each time.

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