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 The Arrogant Writer 
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Post The Arrogant Writer
Title: The Arrogant Writer

Author: Jill Nagle


The Arrogant Writer: Five Ways to Nurture and Defend your Muse

By Jill Nagle

Arrogance has a bad rap. We think of arrogant people as
unpleasant to be around, full of themselves, and incapable of
taking an interest in anyone else. However, when applied to
one’s own writing, a certain measure of well-placed arrogance
can be a useful tool.

Writing can be a scary enterprise. The writer puts herself out
for public scrutiny in a way most other artists and
professionals do not. When the writer publishes, she commits
herself to the words she’s written for the rest of her life.
Even if she changes her mind about what she’s said, others may
still react to the piece decades after it first appears in
print. This can make even the act of putting pen to paper (or
more likely, fingers to keyboard) an anxiety-producing ordeal.

Then there is the schooling most of us received, which treated
writing as a chore rewarded when well done or punished when
poorly done, as opposed to a pleasurable activity for ourselves
and our readers. Very few of us had any audience for any the
writing we did in classrooms, other than the teachers who
instructed, criticized and graded us. It’s no wonder most
writers suffer from self-doubt rather than overconfidence. We
tend to underestimate ourselves and our words, even when they
come from the most powerful places inside us, even when we get
accolades from the outside world, and even long after we finally
get published.

Practicing selective arrogance can help disarm these nasty
doubts. And, not to worry: If you are not arrogant to begin
with, practicing the type of arrogance I suggest will not
transform you into an insufferable braggart. Rather, it will
help uplift you from the gutters of self-doubt onto the clean,
dry road to getting published. Even if you do not feel in the
least arrogant about your writing, you can still follow my
simple instructions to act as if you do, with the same results:
to get published, or to get published again.

Selective arrogance does not mean thinking of yourself as any
better than anyone else, or as having reached the pinnacle of
your skills. Rather, it means treating every word you write as a
precious baby worthy of the greatest care and nurturance. Here’s
how to do that:

Never, ever throw anything away, period.

Carry with you at all times a means to record your creative

Record your creative bursts, even if other voices inside you are
dismissing them with negative judgments.

Trust your impulses and passions: if you feel drawn to write
about something, write about it!

Eschew impatience-give your babies the time they need to
gestate. If you’ve read between the lines, you see that these
instructions have you do nothing more than treat yourself and
your writing with respect. However, because many people have a
hard time doing even that, I counsel my clients to behave
arrogantly. It gets them giggling and releasing the feelings
they have about their writing, and makes it easier to find that

Although you may have read elsewhere to be prepared to throw
away your first writing attempts, to release attachment to your
early work and the like, nuggets of wisdom and creativity appear
throughout a writer’s life from childhood through seniority. I
advocate collecting and these and treating them with care,
perhaps polishing them now and again. There is no magical moment
when one suddenly becomes “a good writer.” Thus, your most
novice scribblings become diamond mines.

The one time I disobeyed my own advice and discarded what was I
believed was possibly the most poorly written sentence in
history (or at least my own history), I rejoiced. Five minutes
later, I needed the gem in a new sentence, and struggled to
reconstruct the one I’d discarded. May you never make that
mistake-do as I say, not as I’ve done.

These gems also shine through at unexpected times. This is why I
advise my clients to carry at least some scrap paper and a
pencil nub if not an electronic recording device. The times at
night and in the mornings between wake and sleep often yield
good raw material, so keep your recording device of choice

The idea behind saving every little scrap, writing everything
down and cultivating the arrogance to believe these activities
matter is that finished pieces often assert themselves over
time, forming a coherent whole from little scraps, like a
Rorschach, or getting that crucial letter right in the Wheel of
Fortune. The key is to keep feeding the collage and trusting
that something or things will emerge over time.

Not every sentence will necessarily lead to an essay, book or
screenplay of its own. But some might add that missing piece to
make a good piece great. Even tidbits that go nowhere for now
still give your brain a chance to exercise itself and keep your
creative pathways well-hacked.

When it comes to choosing which pathway you’ll write your way
down, trust your wild and wooly impulses. If you’re drawn to
something, chances are you will make the subject come alive.
You’ll seduce your readers by the very fact of your relationship
to the material.

Finally, give your pieces the time they need to develop. Being
an arrogant writer means honoring the gestation period your
writings must pass through to be born into the world healthy and
ready to engage readers. Honoring this gestation period may mean
asking for help. Just as the dedicated gardener finds the right
soil, fertilizer, seeds, watering schedule and equipment, so the
arrogant writer finds her coach, buddy, copyeditor, ghostwriter,
or colleague’s expert eye. I have seen writers move from
stagnation to publication with the right combination of
assistance. I love being part of that process.

You are welcome to reprint this article any time, anywhere with
no further permission, and no payment, provided the following is
included at the end or beginning:

Author Jill Nagle is founder and principal of GetPublished,, which provides coaching,
consulting, ghostwriting, classes and do-it-yourself products to
emerging and published authors. Her most recent book is How to
Find An Agent Who Can Sell Your Book for Top Dollar

About the author:
Author Jill Nagle is founder and principal of GetPublished,, which provides coaching,
consulting, ghostwriting, classes and do-it-yourself products to
emerging and published authors. Her most recent book is How to
Find An Agent Who Can Sell Your Book for Top Dollar

This article was posted by permission.

Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:48 pm
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