Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Writers Society: The People Who DO Like You

We as writers tend to dwell on the negative. I don't know what it is. Perhaps those tough crits or bad reviews are food for the little doubt monsters that live inside our brains.

"See, I knew I sucked. I just knew it, and this random Amazon troll knows it, too."

"I knew I couldn't write a decent book. Look at all these revisions...I'm a failure."

It's silly, isn't it? A writer could get hundreds of good reviews and three bad ones, and which ones do you think they'll remember? I don't know why, but we seem to forget about all the people who DO like our stories, who do support us and think we have talent.

Because really, the people who like us are the ones that matter, aren't they? I don't think any writer out there writes for their critics. They write for their fans. You may only have five people in the world who have read your stuff. You might have thousands. Either way, these are the people that matter.

I've been thinking a lot about this idea lately (since it happens to play a big part in my WIP). We all want to impress people, to be liked. But are you trying to impress the right people? In my mind, the people to impress are the people who actually care about you. Sacrificing them for people who don't...well, that's just stupid.

A while ago I interviewed one of my favorite authors, Julie Halpern. She had so many great things to say, but the advice that stuck with me is this: "If you like what you write, someone else will like it, too."

Does it matter if it's only ten people? Sometimes it feels like it does, but when I really think about it I'd rather have those ten than a bunch who just pretend to like my stuff. I need to be grateful for the people who believe in me. I need to listen to them, make them happy. If others join the bandwagon, so be it. But there's no reason to dwell on the critics—they aren't my audience, obviously.

So I want to give a great, big virtual hug to the people who love and support me. My family, especially my mom, who reads and likes everything I write (hey, I need that sometimes). My writer friends, who keep me going when things get rough. My agent (both old and new), for believing in my talent enough to put their own reputation on the line. And, yes, all of you, who keep reading my blog and encouraging me. You are all far more important than any critic or troll or flamer.

Thank you. Times infinity.


  1. Yes yes yes! Wonderful pep talk. That revelation -- write what you love, and others will love it too (and those who don't can go suck an egg) -- has fueled me through so much growth and progress this year.

    And for the record, I'm definitely a fan. :)

  2. I remember being told that for every one negative comment made to us, we need to hear six positive. I personally think that's a low estimate.

    And thank YOU, Natalie, for your encouragement. :)

  3. I blame the empty praise parents heap on their children.

    Yes, some of that praise is sincere, but most parents seem to have the idea that encouragement = saying something's wonderful when it's not.

    After a while even children start to recognize this for what it is, which is worthless. Like most things learned in childhood, this "lesson" skews the adult perception as well.

    If the only time you got honest feedback as a kid was when someone who was not a relative pointed out that was wrong, it's not inconceivable to think that, as an adult, the negative will carry more weight than the positive because you've already trained yourself to believe the positive is suspect.

  4. I love these Friday posts. They're exactly what I need, especially right now. I'm just starting my first major revision and I feel entirely overwhelmed by how much needs to get done! Thank goodness for husbands and friends and parents who can be our cheerleaders when we're down, right?

  5. This is exactly what I needed today - not just for my writing, but for life in general. Thank you for that ^_^ *reads again*

  6. You're so wonderful Natalie. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, and for how awesomesauce you are. I needed this today. :)

  7. Yes, and with that: MORE NINJAS PLEASE!

  8. Too true! We don't like everything other people write, so why should everyone like what we write? I love the suggestion to 'latch on to the affirmation'.

  9. This is such a beautiful post !! i am normally a lurker here,but i wanted to delurk and say that your blog rocks!! ..Keep going !

  10. Everybody needs a fan, and mom's are a good place to start--their opinions can't always be trusted...but at least they can give you a good ol' boost of self confidence... same goes for my little sister--It wouldn't be as fun to write without them.

  11. So uplifting, Natalie. I wish it was easier for me to remember the good but the bad just seems so LOUD. I will try to do better. :)

  12. "Does it matter if it's only ten people? Sometimes it feels like it does, but when I really think about it I'd rather have those ten than a bunch who just pretend to like my stuff."

    That's kind of how I feel about blog followers. And I think I'll feel that way about readership eventually. I'd love to know that there's one person on Earth who thoroughly enjoys something I write.

  13. Another inspiring meeting. Looking forward to next Friday.

  14. This is such a liberating way to look at writing. Why haven't I *always* thought of it this way? Thanks for this post!

  15. I stumbled upon this blog and you have the greatest advice ever! I've been writing forever but I've only let a couple of people read my stuff because I'm so scared of the reaction I'll get. Will they like it? Will they think it's the stupidest thing they've ever read?
    Thanks for all your insight and wisdom!