I am a writer, which makes me a bit of an egomaniac.
I don’t think that is a bad thing, and here is why. To honestly, truthfully believe that someone would want to read whatever it is you have written, you need to be possessed of a certain egomania. You have to believe you are a great writer. In fact, I personally believe every novel I write is the most imaginative, exciting, gripping, funny, relevant, thought-provoking and moving novel ever written, whilst I am writing it.
Of course, amid these dizzying heights come the dizzying lows (in my case, George McFly Syndrome), and invariably it is unlikely at best that I have written the greatest novel of all time. But I still have to believe that someone, somewhere will want to read it. Otherwise, it becomes very, very hard to persevere.
So, accepting that writers are egomaniacs to a greater or lesser degree, how can that ego be managed so it doesn’t become insufferable? My personal recommendation is twofold.
Have a very, very thick skin – This is vital for when Beta readers come back with critiques of your work. If they are worth their salt, they will not sugar-coat things and they will be severe when they need to be. I once had a Beta writer tell me to put a particular novel through the shredder (I have since agreed that it should never see the light of day). If you fail to listen to Beta readers (they may be wrong, after all), be aware that if they are correct, you are adding vanity to folly by exhibiting your flawed or failed work. In that case, be fully prepared for scathing reviews. Incidentally, I try to wear bad reviews on my sleeve wherever possible. Not everything I have published has been a roaring success, and in some cases, I have ignored Beta readers when I really shouldn’t have done. However, it is a learning process, so I take all that on the chin.
Have a very dark, self-deprecating sense of humour – This is more for the benefit of those you live with – wives, husbands, children, families, flatmates and so on. The ability to laugh at yourself will be a saving grace and a fine counterbalance to the egomania necessary to actually finish a book in the first place. Great books have been written by people who didn’t possess the ability to laugh at themselves, but I bet they were really, really horrible people to live with. If you are going to be a melodramatic flounce, at least try and be self-aware enough to realise that even if you are the greatest writer of all time, a bit of humility goes a long way, and the ability to laugh at yourself goes even further.
Now go and read my books. They are all absolutely bloody brilliant.