Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Where's my $1M advance? The pitfall of Optimism Bias
First off, an announcement of a new blog chain, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog! We'll be posting each Wednesday, and today Laura Diamond gets to smash the champagne bottle on the subject of "What keeps you writing?"
Okay, on to today's topic.
I just heard of the term "Optimism Bias" recently for the first time, but I KNEW exactly what it was. Every writer has, maybe.
Optimism Bias: The tendency to be overly optimistic and underestimating the likelihood of negative events. (From Wikipedia)
Did anyone write their first novel and think, "Easy. Then I'll write a query letter. Agents will beg me for the manuscript because my idea is so fantabulous. It will go to auction, end up on the NY Times Bestseller list for 500 weeks..." et cetera.
And then you started to write the novel. Hmm. Not as easy, but you get it done. Then your betas read it. Hmmm. It's not as perfect as you thought. Then the first 30 agent rejections come in. Revisions. More rejections. Hmmmmmm.
The pitfall of optimism bias? The reality of failure can feel ten times more painful.
And it doesn't just have to be about the whole package--being a successful, published author. It could just be finishing the manuscript. Or the outline. Or getting an agent.
Now that I'm writing a lot more and have learned a lot about the publishing business, my current level of optimism is much more level with my pessimism.
I no longer see the glass half full or empty. I'm just glad there's water in that silly glass.
How about you? Been a victim of optimism bias?