Ever get the feeling that another writer isn't exactly loving you? Maybe it's just a slight niggling feeling that somehow, somewhere along the line you've annoyed them. Or maybe you haven't had that feeling, but you've been noticing that you're just not getting the responses and feedback from others that you've been hoping for.
Maybe it's not them. Maybe it's you.
But what did you do? And how do you fix it?
I've asked ten writers what their writer pet peeves are about other writers, plus added four of my own. Read on and see if any of them feel familiar or strike a chord.
1. It's All About YOU
Writers (and people in general) who make it all about themselves and their work are annoying. They leave the impression that they don't care about others.
Is it you?: If you notice that you're not replying to others because you aren't that interested in their problems and story, that you're not offering assistance when you could, you never have the time for others, don't bother to answer questions, and always seem to leave conversations feeling pleased that you got all your information on the table, but can't really recall what those other folks were about, then you might be focusing a bit too much on yourself. I understand that we can't all be perfect and our time is limited. But think about the impression you are leaving.
How to fix it: It is understandable that you want to get the word out about your book, contest, blog post, latest rejection, but others also want to feel heard. Bite your tongue and try to let others talk. Listen. Retweet or tweet their news. You will be amazed at what happens.
2. It Rocks to RECEIVE
Writers who take, take, and take from others whether it is getting others to do their promotion, editing, critiquing, or research, (the list goes on) without giving back are often dumped and eventually find themselves without many good writer friends.
Is it you?: If you find you are receiving more than you are giving back (really think about it here), you might be one of these dudes. When was the last time you helped someone directly? Either shared a link, retweeted their news, liked their page, provided feedback, sent them an agent's name who just happens to be looking for that person's genre, etc.
How to fix it: Look up "Giver's Gain" and the term "Karma." Apply it.
Give for the sake of giving. Offering help to others will improve you in more ways than I can ever explain. I'm not saying if someone gives you a query critique that you have to critique theirs back. However, if you find a great article you think they would like, send it to them. Or help one of their friends. Keep the generosity and helping spirit going. Get in the habit of helping.
3. I'm the BEST
Writers who feel that they are at the top of the game, the best (even if unrecognized), and are simply annoying beyond words.
Is it you?: Do you feel that you really (although maybe even secretly) are the best? Do you wonder why you haven't been noticed yet by all those stupid-heads who know nothing and you should be agented/published/a bestseller by now? Do you ask for critiques just to hear how great you are? Do often brush comments and reactions off as the other writer just being jealous?
How to fix it: Get over yourself. Nobody is hot stuff right off the mark. One of the most wonderful things about writing is that there is always something you can improve upon. Always. And that attitude is going to kill you. Agents REJECT writers that they feel are going to be big-headed and not open to improvement or suggestions. Which brings us to ...
4. I Don't Need to LISTEN
These writers can be a real time waster. They ask for advice, and you provide it only to have them turn around and say, "I know that." Or worse, say, "You don't know what you are talking about."
Is this you?: You find you disagree with critiques about 85% of the time (maybe more). You shut off if you don't hear praise. You interrupt or don't finish reading other people's comments before replying. You have caught yourself thinking something similar to: "I don't need to listen to you, you are just an unpublished writer."
How to fix it: If you ask for someone to take the time out of their day to provide feedback, damn well listen. Even if you don't agree with it. If your pride makes you snap back saying your work is perfect, resist. This kind critiquer probably hit a nerve which means you should probably take note because that insecure little writer dude hanging out in your gut knows they are on to something. Close your mouth, open your ears. Pause. Consider. Then maybe reply.
5. BONUS ROUND!
For the 5th pet peeve, I asked fellow writers on Twitter and in the shoutbox on AgentQuery Connect (an online writing community) what irks them about other writers. Here are 10 pet peeves from other writers. (A big thank you to those quoted below.)
Eric T. Benoit: My pet peeve: Writers who use "alot" instead of "a lot." I see writers use it all the time and it makes me want to poke my eyes out! :) I mean, we're supposed to be professionals, we should know our craft and that's grammar more than anything else.
Khaula Mazhar: When they start to sound stuck up when they get published and famous ;)
S.L. Jenan: Authors who don't trust their prose. They put me in a scene, build tension, then tell/explain: Protag was scared. DUH!
J Lea Lopez: I can't stand the "aspiring" writer with a million excuses who you know will never move out of "aspiring" mode.
Jemi Fraser: All promo!
RS Mellette: Resumé talkers—"Hey, how have you been?" "Good, I just finished a new manuscript that's out to agents..."
... I meant, how have YOU been, not how has your writing been going.
SC_Author: Those who want you to look at their queries/synopsis/MS only to hear how great their work is—it's not always great!
Caterina: When they assume being self-published equals terribly written work. (A lot of time and effort goes into self publishing)
Aprilmwall: "Writers" critiquing other writers who in fact have NEVER WRITTEN ANYTHING :) At least give it a go b4 you tell everybody else what's wrong with theirs.
Tom Bradley: Snobby writers who look down on "lesser" (non-literary) genres.
Carakasla: My pet peeve is not having consistency in critiques. I hate it when three people stop by and give three completely different critiques, it's kind of like 'can you check OTHER'S suggestions first? So not to confuse me?!' It's about the only time repetitiveness is a GOOD thing!
Note: These pet peeves probably apply to agents and editors as well—be aware!
Now that you've looked at yourself and other writers from the write angle, what do you think? Are there some areas where you could improve? Are there some writers who now 'make more sense' to you?
And don't worry, we'll share what we love about other writers in the future. :)
Let's learn from each other: What are your pet peeves when it comes to other writers? How do you handle them?
Jean Oram is a writer who tries to practice Giver's Gain in her daily interaction with others ... in fact that's today's blog topic on her blog. She likes to tweet helpful info, pin interesting things, and sometimes even hang out on Facebook and is trying out Google+.