READER FRIDAY: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

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Think about very creative types. Often they are said to have ginormous egos. It makes them who they are. Think Kanye West, as an example. There are others.

1.) Many writers are plagued by self-doubt, especially when they first start out, but is a big ego part of the success formula for ANY creative art form?

2.) Does having a big ego help or hurt an author when it comes to writing?


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Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

18 thoughts on “READER FRIDAY: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

  1. Tough to answer, since I equate “big ego” with people who haven’t enough respect for anyone else but themselves. Though it probably doesn’t hurt them because they have their own admiration society (see themselves as their biggest fan) plus have plenty of people who think that behavior is wonderful.

    Likewise, there are probably just as many who are repulsed by those types of egotistical leanings.

    However, I would *assume* that being egotistical helps you in the early creative stages because you are less likely to stop the project mid-stream since the egotistical person already thinks they are pure gold & the world is just dying to receive it.

    You bring up an interesting question–while I’m sure there must be plenty of examples of writers who fall into this category, it’s just not something that comes across my radar (or maybe I’ve automatically filtered it out).

    Instead, I just think of the totally tongue-in-cheek song by Mac Davis in the late 70’s or early 80’s, which in part says:

    Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble
    When you’re perfect in every way
    I can’t wait to look in the mirror
    Cause I get better lookin’ each day
    To know me is to love me
    I must be a hell of man.
    Lord, it’s hard to be humble.
    But I’m doin’ the best that I can.

    😎 😎 😎

    • Ha! Thanks for the song reminder. Gave me a chuckle, BK.

      When I saw this question, I found it interesting since most authors I know are humble & generous with their help to others. I have met a handful who were NOT. Heathy egos & self-focused.

      I won’t name them but I stopped buying their books.

  2. I would say it’s much more important to be hardworking. The egotist would most likely refuse to get his work critiqued and then not get published. But in general, ego seems to come whenever somebody’s masters a bit of something. You can just as easily have egotistical doctors, lawyers, gym teachers, or even store clerks who can ring up items the fastest or who have memorized all the prices. Creativity, in my opinion, has nothing to do with it. The only difference is that creativity is not measurable, which makes people more prone to fall in to their ego.

    • Your comment reminded me that the big ego doesn’t mean bestseller. I’ve met some mega sellers who were completely warm & charming, but I’ve run across unpubs who are insufferable. Thanks for your comments, AZAli.

  3. Hard to tell. Most of the great writers I have spent time with are so quiet and observant, it’s hard to get a read on their egos. They “appear” confident yet humble. When I meet writers who are out there with large egos—self-absorbed—they are generally less accomplished. It feels like they blatantly peddle their wears because they need to.

  4. An ego helps – it takes a lot of ego to put our precious worlds on paper and then – gasp! – have others read them. And then, to have the audacity to ask others to PAY to read them? Yes, that takes ego. It takes the firm belief that the work you pull out of your brain is worthwhile – and worth money.

    But too much ego hurts. It gets in the way of self-improvement. It gets in the way of relationships with your readers. And it gets in the way of the quality of your writing.

    One fantasy writer with a long-standing (even, at times, bestselling) series let his ego grow too large. This series went from good writing, to simply humorous, to repetitive and badly written tripe. In his autobiography, he talked about how this series had become ‘so easy to write’ that he could crank a book out in a month or two, and it would hit the bestseller lists, so he only wrote the books when he needed extra cash. (I don’t know if the series is still being added to – I stopped reading when he had an author’s note saying something to the tune of ‘well, I had to stop writing this novel a few times due to life, but it’s impossible to tell where I stopped and started again, because it all flows perfectly.’ I could tell, though. The characters changed subtly each time, their POVs changed – sometimes even their motives. I lose all respect for someone who says ‘no could possibly see’ when I can see it as clear as day, even before it was obvious what was wrong.)

    • I love how you boiled a big ego down to hitting a plateau in improvement or declining in quality. In my experience a big ego has less to do with striving for improvement & more to do with believing they don’t need improvement. They are the authority. Their minds are closed off, especially to negative criticism. But even too much praise can turn into a crutch. Thanks, BJ.

  5. Ego is like a tool. I’m reminded of the Eric Clapton song,
    It’s in the way that you use it.

    • Note: The song is in the movie ‘The Color of Money’. Also in the movie is a fabulous sequence with Tom Cruise shooting pool to Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves of London’. Amazing stuff.

    • Every one has an ego. It can keep us striving and believing we can achieve success or it can hinder that success by overestimating our abilities.

      To some extent, from our discussion today, I feel that ego should be healthy enough to push us to achieve something most people wouldn’t even attempt, but not be too large that we become satisfied with our craft and our ability.

      I remember that before I sold, naysayers (who tend to quash dreams because theirs are so limited) wanted me to lower my bar and write “simpler” books or they talked about me behind my back, telling others that I didn’t have what it took to get published by a large NYC publisher. (Mind you, these are NOT friends. My true friends only supported whatever my dreams were/are.) But my ego only hunkered down and tried harder. I kept my goals high, because hell, why not?

      Ego is resilient, if we allow it to be. It keeps us in the hunt, despite the pile of rejections. It keeps us believing in ourselves.

  6. And then there is J. K. Rowling, who remained humble all the way through her Harry Potter series, then realized what she’s missing, and now is chasing her ego around the room by dropping all these bits of info about characters we don’t care about or claiming that she did something wrong in the book.

    • But I think about what it might feel like to have hit SO BIG that you could have doubts about doing it again or failing after that first big success. It must be a head trip. I commend her for not being a one-series wonder.

      Plus she’s adorable on Twitter. She’s a big believer in good causes and donates a lot. She appears to be a good global citizen. I respect that.

  7. What a question….yes, we need ego, but what comes to my mind is more self-confidence and perseverance benefits writers as they plod along the writing trail hoping for the best. Sometimes egotistical folks are not fun to be around…..

  8. Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, said he believed he was going to win every time walked onto the court. He said that if he didn’t believe that he had no business walking onto an NBA court expecting to be a champion.

    Extrapolate that however you wish.

    Jordan got cut from his high school team. Then went forward to make sure it never happened again. Ego and supreme confidence in his hard developed abilities, were certainly part of his process.

    I don’t know any huge success in any field that doesn’t have some of what Jordan had.

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