Managing my own ego is hands down the toughest part of writing. I want desperately to finish my story, and also, eventually, share it. However, in order to do that, I’ve actually got to write a story that doesn’t suck. The mechanics have to be decent, and the story itself needs to make sense and be compelling. In my mind, my story is a best seller. In reality, it’s an amateur hack, and if I’m super lucky some of my friends might read it all the way through. With that little reality check in mind, it’s only only my ego that keeps me going. Unfortunately, that ego is also a major roadblock because it gets in the way of taking advice. It’s hard to accept that what you’ve done doesn’t work, even when you know you need to listen to advice.
It’s easy to say: “Well you just don’t understand what I’m trying to do,” in response to advice that’s difficult. Particularly when it brings problems to light that would require major changes to plot or characters. Sometimes, though, the knee-jerk reaction is “Darn, now I’ve got to trash all of this work, I really like because it doesn’t work.” In truth, both of these are extremes, even when there’s truth in the reactions. It’s made more complicated when you have very supportive friends or family who encourage you to keep work they just told you was bad. At those times, who do you listen to – the bold self-assured ego, the the overly critical ‘throw it all away’ ego, or the supportive friend who insists you just need to rework a few things?
I can’t say I have solution. Ego is a double edged sword, I both need it to proceed, and also keep me inside reality. All I know is that I have to make a focused effort to accept all advice and assume that even if it’s off base it’s pointing to a real problem and I need to understand the root of the issue and resolve it.