Seven Deadly Sins applied to Writing – Envy

Envy is a universal thing, and I would go so far as to say if you are a conscious, sentient being of any sort (I wouldn’t dare discriminate against self-aware computer systems, alien lifeforms, and anything else along those lines), you have experienced some form of envy at one point or another.  I mean, you’re welcome to disagree to your heart’s content.  You know, in the same way I can point at you disagreeing and laugh derisively.

However, these are the seven deadly sins of writing and not the seven deadly sins applied to everything, ever, in the history of ever (because while that would give me loads of blogging potential, it would get tired and I would get tired and, frankly, no one would enjoy that; free torture for all?).  Just to get this out of the way: I actually dreaded writing this particular entry, because it’s one of the bigger ones (let’s be honest, here; writing Lust is going to make me want to jump off a bridge, too), and there’s so much Envy entails it’ll take a good bit of writing to begin with.  And then possibly self-immolation.  Who knows?  This will take a look at how writers can be envious of other writers’ success, their writing, their following (hoo boy), and so on.

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Seven Deadly Sins applied to Writing – Wrath

As writers, there’s a lot to get angry about.  That day job you hold down so you can afford having internet, electricity, and the various other things you find help enable the writing process?  Loathsome.  Finding out the document you were so sure you saved, because you know you definitely saved it again before you closed Microsoft word, is gone?  Infuriating.  Going to the fridge to grab that Pepsi you so skillfully hid behind a bunch of weird yogurts with questionable expiration dates, only to discover it’s gone?  Author angry!  Author smash!

I’d like to say there are right and wrong ways to handle such moments of wrath, but given my propensity for long, near-nonsensical strings of expletives at any given time, I feel like I’m not quite in a position to offer such advice.  So I will anyway!  See also: it’s my blog, and I’ll write what I want to.  So there.

The biggest issue with the Wrath of a writer (not the Wrath of Khan) is how writing angry can turn what you had hoped would be good into an utter pile of shit, or you could produce some of your best work.  It’s a huge gamble.  A lot of that comes down to what has a person angry, what they can do about it, and if that anger is something that will end up displaced on some poor, unsuspecting protagonist (spoilers: Sir Tibbles falls down some stairs, is savagely bludgeoned by vikings, and then eaten by a dragon…all because your assclown boss sent you a passive-aggressive e-mail about proper e-mail etiquette).  Sure, you may not intend to turn your romantic-comedy into a horror movie, complete with buckets-of-blood gore, but one thing may very well lead to another.  And another.  And suddenly Mary-Sue’s jaded ex-boyfriend is making all of her possible suitors into tasteful souvenir wallets.  Probably not where you’d originally intended the story to go.

My best solution to when I’m all anger issues and hypothetically punching holes in walls is to just channel it into something I can’t end up hating myself for later.  I’ve done some of my best cleaning and reorganizing when the only other thing I want to do is go Dalek on the general population (Exterminate!  Exterminate!  Pew-pew.).  Or, when that doesn’t seem to help, I always fall back on the best possible option for most problems: just nap it off.  Sure, that isn’t necessarily a fix, but if you somehow manage to wake up angry from an otherwise-refreshing nap, you’ve probably got some deeper issues to consider.  Like being permanently Hulked out instead of reverting to Bruce Banner.


Seven Deadly Sins applied to writing – Greed

I’ll just go ahead and address the elephant in the proverbial room of writing: greed.  You know, all that top-secret money allotted by shadow governments for authors so they can be fabulously wealthy and enjoy lots of fancy garnished beverages (and if you believe this, I’ve got a solar-powered flying giraffe I’d like to sell you for a discounted price of ALL THE MONEY).  Continue reading

Seven Deadly Sins applied to writing – Pride

First and foremost, I’d like to indicate the shiny new linkage at the top of my page.  I’ve finally made a page for “Joshua’s Nightmares”, which is a little ridiculous if you think about it since that’s the reason I made this blog in the first place.  To follow my progress, or total lack of real progress so far, on writing that novel.  Yikes.

On the plus side, I made a good deal of progress in terms of world-building today (while at work, no less), and will be doing a ton of writing for the actual novel tomorrow…so I thought I’d get this written now.  I found myself thinking, “Self, there’s probably some way you could apply the Seven Deadly Sins to writing.”  In line with my last post, I Googled that and was completely unsurprised to find a trillion billion similar results.  Honestly, though, you could Google “Seven Deadly Sins of Making a Seven Deadly Sins of List” and there’s probably results.  If not, someone should get on that!  Moving on.

The first post–this post, of course–will focus on Pride.  This is a bit of an odd one, as pride and writers go together about as well as peanut butter and gasoline do in a smoothie (Protip: Premium gasoline and peanut butter probably do make a great smoothie, though I take no responsibility for anyone who actually ingests a premium gasoline and peanut butter smoothie).  On one hand, most writers suffer from so much crippling self-doubt that Pride (capital p for this post because of reasons) doesn’t pose much of an issue.

However, when Pride does rear is ugly head it often has to do with an unwillingness to make changes to a piece of writing (and, in some cases, accept that a story you wrote may actually just be a stinking heap of needs-sent-to-the-trash-bin-now).  Maybe you sent it to some friends for critiquing, knowing they’d love a particular witty one-liner or character, and you were completely taken aback when that particular gem was highlighted with critical comments.  On one hand, you could let Pride rule your pen and say screw it to those suggestions.  Not everyone will understand your overwhelming genius, right?  Or, more realistically, you could see what fixing that “gem” could use.

What I typically notice, and experience, is the absence of Pride with writers.  It’s not even humility so much as this weird blend of doubt and self-loathing, with a splash of cheap bourbon.  I’ll write, and write, and write some more, and then I’ll look at the finished product and think about how everything could have been done better, or had been done somewhere else already, and how the story itself wouldn’t be worthy, in print, of being used as toilet tissue.  And then editing happens and I might hate the story a little less, or a little more, or just the same.

Ultimately, it’s a weird balancing act with being proud of the works you create, but understanding that everything could use a little tweaking.  Unless you’re infallible, in which case I politely must insist you are actually full of shit.