I read a post the other day on The Passive Voice about how some writers may condemn a bestseller book because of all the “bad” that’s in it. Though the title of the post points to the fate of today’s book bloggers — who are suffering from overload because they’ve become the new gatekeepers for the slush pile — a lot of what was written in that piece really hit home for me.
See, I’m human and, like many other writers, I get annoyed when I read a bestseller book that, in my opinion, is poorly written. Now, let’s get something out of the way before I go on, okay? What I consider poorly written is not necessarily what someone else considers poorly written. However, I do believe there are some universal traits on what most readers consider “bad”. Writers, on the other hand, are more critical because they deal with words and storytelling every day. When you put a book into their hands, they’re going to read it differently than your average reader will. And the writer who has more experience (read, words written and stories published/told) will be even more critical still.
What happens is, that writer will start picking the “bad” book apart. They’ll search out the so-called crap and complain. “How the &!%$ did that author get published with writing like this,” they’ll ask, “and make a fortune on top of it?” And maybe that writer has a point. Maybe there was a lot of bad in the writing. But apparently there was good, too. Maybe even more good than they want to admit.
This is one of the points TPV was trying to make. There comes a time when you have to push past the ego thing, when you realize that it’s truly time to take your craft to the next level, open your mind, and find what worked. A book becomes a bestseller because, d’uh, something worked. Finding that winning combination is what will help you get past the “that was crap” mindset and into “oh, I get it now” way of thinking.
Which brings me to the point of today’s blog. A lot of book review bloggers out there are suffering from burnout. Too much reading that’s available. Too many authors clamoring for attention. Too many stories that sound the same, and many that really, truly aren’t ready for prime time yet. So those bloggers have pulled back. They’ve decided to pick and choose the stories they want to read. And some have even decided to branch out past the usual genre they prefer.
Why? One of the reasons, I think, is simple: the only way to rekindle a passion for what you truly love is to expand your horizons and branch out past what is usual for you. Doing so gives you a stronger appreciation for what you do love, but also gives you perspective. We’re creatures of habit. We get stuck in ruts because we’re comfortable there. It’s what we know. But if you try to mix it up a bit? You just might be in for a pleasant surprise.
So the next time you’re feeling burned out — over anything — think about trying something new. Give it a week. Maybe even a month. Like those book bloggers, be selective but search out what’s different. Like the writers who must learn to find the good despite the bad, open your mind to the possibility that there are many other enjoyable things out there that, on the surface, might seem — dare I say? — icky.
Go on. I dare you. Then let me know how it goes.
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