September 29th, 2009


Thoughts on Writing #37: Hype.

Hello, and welcome to the thirty-seventh essay in my accidental series of essays on the art, craft, and process of writing. We're almost done; the series will eventually be fifty essays long, all of them based around my original set of fifty thoughts on writing. Because the list of thoughts was written in no particular order, the essays are addressing the various components of the writing life in no particular order, and will eventually cover just about everything. Spooky. Here's today's thought:

Thoughts on Writing #37: Hype.

We live in a world of hype. We swim in hype, we breathe hype, we eat and drink and sweat hype. But what does it mean? To expand on today's thought:

Don't buy into your own hype. There will always be people ready to tell you that you're so awesome you should be elected President on the basis of sheer badass. There will always be people ready to tell you that you're brilliant, that your books are the best things ever written, that they can't imagine why you aren't winning every award in the industry. That's okay. Those are not bad people. They're good for your career, and frankly, they're probably telling the truth; everybody has the one author that can do (almost) no wrong, or the one book that's absolutely perfect as it is. Still, those six, or sixty, or six hundred people? Are just six, or sixty, or six hundred people. If you let yourself believe them, you're going to hurt yourself in ways that I can't even begin to describe.

Hype is natural, normal, and entirely unavoidable. Some of us react to it positively—"Wow, everybody loves this, it must be awesome!" Some of us react to it negatively—"Wow, everybody loves this, it must be horrible!" Some of us just learn to ignore it, and trust our own judgment about the things we do or do not enjoy. No matter what our reactions to hype, at the end of the day, it's going to exist, and it's going to be a part of your writing life. You're going to need to deal with the good parts, the bad parts, and most importantly of all, with the parts that involve not believing everything you hear. Let's take a good look at hype, what it means, and how to keep yourself from falling under its sway. Ready? Good. Let's begin.

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