Could try harder – C+

Author Carol Wyer
Author Carol Wyer
Author Carol Wyer

Having spoken to several budding novelists at Creative Writing Groups in recent weeks it has become apparent that many writers lack confidence in their ability. They have written their story or novel but are worried that it is not good enough to be published.

Well, if you have a finished product you should banish these anxieties. Of course, you could always show it to your mother. She’d probably tell you it is fantastic, unless she’s like my mother who is more likely to chew it up like a rabid pit-bull terrier and tell you to try harder.

If you can’t face criticism from those you know then how about some criticism from those who don’t know you? Even better than that, how about some constructive criticism from other writers?

After I finished Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines I didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t dare show my work to friends because I didn’t want to put them on the spot. After all, who wants to tell a friend that the novel they have just spent a year writing is awful?

Having spent weeks on the internet Googling for answers I discovered a website called YouWriteOn. Here you can create a profile page and upload the first chapter of your work or your short story. In return for reviewing work from other authors, which earns you credits, you get your masterpiece reviewed by other authors. You need to play nicely though and try to assist your fellow authors who are needing your help as much as you need theirs.

This is also not for the feint-hearted among you. You are very likely to get the odd review that says ‘This was just a pile of rubbish and I didn’t get it.’ (Or maybe I was the only person to receive that review.) You need to have thick skin and appreciate that in most cases any criticisms are there to help you be a better writer.

Following a month on YouWriteOn I rewrote my first chapter. It was infinitely better. It allowed me to look at my work with fresh eyes. I then rewrote sections of the book having been guided in the right direction.

I entered Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines for a competition ‘The Writer’s BillBoard First Chapter Competition’ – and yes, it won. I did one of those very silly dances when I got the news and nearly did my back in.

My confidence in my novel was restored. I was on a roll and I published my novel with none other than YouWriteOn following a successful month of great reviews from the people on that site.

Not everyone writes a novel or even a short story. Most people say they want to do it but never do. If you have put in all that effort and realised an ambition then don’t be put off by a dip in confidence.

Get that novel or story out there.

As for criticism, well, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and when I get a bad review I think about all the good ones which offset it. I’m still not ready to show my work to my mother yet though!

You can enter First Chapter Competitions every month at Writers BillBoard or you have until 30th June to submit to Lightship.

Upload your work at YouWriteOn.

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Carol E Wyer is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novel, MINI SKIRTS AND LAUGHTER LINES. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and her website:

Indies Unlimited is pleased to provide this contest and website information for the convenience of our readers.  We do not, however, endorse this or any service/contest/competition.  Entrants should always research a competition prior to entering.


Author: Carol Wyer

Carol E Wyer is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and an award-winning and best-selling author of humorous novels including MINI SKIRTS AND LAUGHTER LINES, SURFING IN STILETTOS, and HOW NOT TO MURDER YOUR GRUMPY. Carol has been featured on NBC News, BBC Radio, and in The Huffington Post. For more about Carol, go to her website or her Amazon author page.

8 thoughts on “Could try harder – C+”

  1. Good advice, Carol. I think of all the tools a writer needs, a thick skin is one of the most important. It's important to know when critical feedback can be useful, and when the reader is just not on the same wavelength as you.

    1. Thank you Chris.

      My skin has become so thick that a giant tranquilliser dart would have trouble penetrating it.

      You just have to appreciate that everyone has a different opinion and sometimes yours might not be the right one. (No, that's not accurate. Of course I am always right!)

    1. Thank you Stephen.

      It pays to have an open mind as a writer. Often our work can benefit from the strongest criticism…even if it smarts a bit.

  2. When you think about it, we're currently in the middle of an explosion of resources. Whereas at one point, we'd have had to find a creative writing class at a local college or university for this kind of thing, there are now countless groups such as the one you mention, Carol, and they're all over the interwebs. And they're free. It's not just the availability and ease of self publishing that's revolutionary, it's everything really.

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