Seven Writing Sins: Wrath

Feel my rash.

My DH’s brother cracks me up with his idosyncracies of the oral language.  We are all guilty of mixing up our words and saying something we never intended to say.

The written word is even more difficult to decipher accurately due to the lack of body language and inflection.  Yet writers continue to engage in written warfare on the web.

Wrath is expressed in haughty emails after a rejection by an agent.  It can be found in dissenting comments on blog posts.  Forums are rife with wrathful expressions by frustrated or angry writers.

Whenever we open our mouths, in real time or metaphorically, we run the risk of offending someone important.  A particularly nasty comment about African, Jewish book writers ten years ago can, and does, crop up in an agent’s google search.  Too bad for us that Dream Agent hails from Nigeria and has Jewish grandparents.   


The whole purpose of  being a writer is to sell material.  To agents.  To editors.  To the reading public.  We cannot do so if we continue to engage in verbal warfare.  There is a way to express opinions appropriately.  Slandering others on the internet is not the way to do so.  It will alienate readers and garner instant rejection by those in the know.

  • Write with care.  What you say can potentially affect people you like, trust and respect.  The feelings will not remain mutual if you can’t keep your slander to yourself.
  • Write with respect.  Don’t diss people, even if you disagree with them.  Rather, disagree with the comment, the method or the point of view. 
  • Do not engage in heated debates in public places.  These biting words will come back to haunt you–and your potential book.
  • If you can’t say something nice…

Well, you get the picture.  Play nice in the publishing sandbox and others will play nice with you.

How do you combat the urge to shoot off a surley message?  What are some ways to control your temper while still fighting the good fight? 

4 responses to “Seven Writing Sins: Wrath

  1. I always cringe whenever I hear stories of writers sending angry emails to an agent or editor. How embarrassing for that writer! That’s a surefire way to make your writing aspirations remain only aspirations for a looong time.

    Taking a deep breath and distancing myself from whatever made me angry helps me maintain temper control. After a few minutes (or an hour, however long it takes, LOL!) whatever made me so angry doesn’t seem so bad and I can handle the situation with maturity and respect. It took me some time to figure out how to control my temper (I’m half Italian after all!), but now I know deep breathing and distance helps me a lot.

    • Laura,

      Time and distance definitely help. I do admit that I’ve written nasty letters to certain people over the years. However, I simply destroy them after I get it all out. Sometimes it’s okay to say those things–just not to share them!

      Half Italian–wonder if that’s where my youngest got his temper from?


  2. I can’t even fathom someone being so unbalanced and reckless that they’d write something surly to an editor or agent. That’s kooky.

    The best training you can get to learn how to control your typed thoughts is to read the comments in blogs and keep telling yourself “that could be me.”

    There used to be some terrible flame wars on Authonomy – as terrible as a bunch of writers can be, anyway.

    • Peter,

      I’ve heard that about Authonomy, which is too bad, because the premise is good. But like all good things, there is always a stinker in the woodpile causing trouble for everyone. We just need to keep control of our own words like you said. “That could be me.”

      What we say/type can greatly impact our futures in this biz and it often surprises me that people react so poorly to those who can potentially make or break their careers.

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