The Writing Genius and the Fool

The Fool, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

How can you be both a genius and a fool? How can your manuscript be both the best and the worst thing ever written? Ever?

All writers know exactly how.

Because we all have those days, don’t we? Those days where you are energized and excited about your writing. You are in love with both your characters (very good) as well as with your story (very bad). Words of inspired brilliance turn into paragraphs and then pages of pure awesomesauce that appear on the monitor in rapid fire. You hardly register that your fingers are making it happen.

This is the best thing you have ever written! You are a literary genius!

But then the next day… every word hurts. Every keyboard stroke is directly hooked into your pain receptors so you can not only know, but *feel* how each word you type is absolutely the most wrong word ever. Then you make the mistake of looking up at yesterday’s writing, and you notice that you used three adverbs in one sentence.


“Nooooooooooooooooooo,” you’ll scream, like Darth Vader when he discovered what happened to Padme. And you *will* scream it—your head will even tilt back as your hands claw in anguish at the air around you, grasping for answers. But epic fail is all you will touch.

This is the worst thing you have ever written! You are a literary fool!

(yes, yes, get to the point…)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that as with my manuscript, the truth of your manuscript is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Ride out the highs—really enjoy them for all you can. Hell, even picture the book signings and legions of adoring fans if you want. But know too on those dark and drably days that it’s okay. Everything will be okay. Keep writing or put it down, but do come back to it.

Because everything (umm, except killing Padme) can be fixed. Bad writing can be shorn of its devil-horns. The idea is salvageable, because the idea came from inside of you. And you are not a genius, but nor are you a fool.

This blog post was inspired by a writerly conversation with Kirsty Logan. She’s far closer to genius than fool.

Please share your genius/fool stories in the comments below!



Filed under books, fiction, novels, On Writing, writing

2 responses to “The Writing Genius and the Fool

  1. I couldn’t have read this at a better time. Sadly, I am having one of those “Nooooooo Days”. *sighs*

    Great post, reminded me that this too shall pass and
    hopefully tomorrow I will find my genius again.

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