‘All Good Writers Think They Suck’

My title quotes a spicy remark by Harlan Coben on a British talk show aired on March 24th. He continued: “Only bad writers think they’re good. We all get beat up. We all have impostor syndrome.”

Coben’s comments contrast pertly with his status in the vanishingly small coterie of writers who get rich from writing.

More nuanced is what Nobel laureate Louise Glück has said on the subject:

The fundamental experience of the writer is helplessness… Writing is not decanting of personality… Most writers spend much of their time in various kinds of torment: wanting to write, being unable to write; wanting to write differently, being unable to write differently. In a whole lifetime, years are spent waiting to be claimed by an idea.

Then she says this:

I use the word “writer” deliberately. “Poet” must be used cautiously; it names an aspiration, not an occupation. In other words: not a noun for a passport.

(Louise Glück, Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry, The Ecco Press, 1994)

Postcript — Coben continues: “The key is, try to get it down no matter what. Throw it up if you have to. Get a first draft down. Turn off the voice in my head that says I suck… Say to yourself, ‘I can always fix bad pages; I can’t fix no pages.’”

Translation: Embrace the suck.

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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8 Responses to ‘All Good Writers Think They Suck’

  1. Applies to art too. Love Glück’s aspiration remark!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great food for all! 💗

    Liked by 1 person

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