A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.
Hey, remember these? I think it’s about time to finish them now, don’t you?
It’s not really in the spirit of the challenge, but after glancing through the remainder of the list I’ve decided to skip the ones that aren’t really logical for me to write about…like #57. How I Find a Mentor. It would be silly of me to write about this when I neither have a mentor nor have I ever sought to find one. We all okay with that? Okay, good. So without further ado, let’s move on…
58. Developing a thick skin.
If there’s one thing you need as a writer, it’s thick skin. Even if you vehemently avoid critiques and proof-readers and go straight to self-publishing without ever having had a single soul read your manuscript beforehand, the reality is that someone will read your book (that’s the point, isn’t it?) and some of those someones will hate it. Even if you’re an amazing writer and your book is a work of art, there will be people who think its a steaming pile of cow dung. That’s the nature of the beast…people have different feelings and opinions, which means you can’t possibly make them all happy. What’s the saying…? “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in all the world, but there will still be someone who hates peaches.”
So, you have to develop a thick skin because some people will hate your work and the nature of humanity means that at least some of those people will be very vocal about letting you know. It would be nice if I could just say, “Don’t let them get to you,” and it would be as easy as that, but it’s not. You’ve got to realize that some reviews will hurt terribly but they will be filled with good, honest suggestions, while others will hurt terribly and be filled with rife, opinionated assholeism. And that’s the real trick…to recognize the difference.
Kristen Lamb recently wrote a post called Writing is Pain, Learn to Take a Hit, in which she makes such suggestions as learning your craft so you know how to interpret the good reviews from the bad, and putting yourself in the line of fire so you can learn to toughen yourself up. She gives excellent advice and you should definitely check out her blog.
As far as my own advice, it is as simple as this: man up. Or if you’re outrageously feminist: woman up. The point is, in the world of writers, as with most every other world, no one is going to coddle you, and if they do they’re doing you a disservice. Yes, you’ll get hurt, you’ll feel like a failure, you’ll possibly want to punch a few people square in the nose. But that comes with the profession and if you want to make it in said profession you’ve got to learn to deal with it. It’s not an option, it’s a requirement. And when you’re feeling particularly awful after a terrible review and you find yourself just wanting to give up, instead remember that you’re not alone. Every other serious writer in the world is dealing with the same thing, no matter how skilled or creative they may be, because no matter how tasty a peach you are, some people just don’t bloody like peaches.