As human beings, we have a deep desire to be accepted. We do things to appease others, to make ourselves look better, to not look stupid.
What happens when we take that attitude into our writing? What happens when we deny our inner muse in order to make others happy? In my experience… bad things happen.
1. There's Enough Love To Go Around
When I started writing, I desperately wanted my family to come along for the ride. I offered free copies of my first book, I asked them what they thought, I wanted them involved.
Well, after doing that for a while, it turned out that my two biggest fans (in my family), and the only ones who've read anything I've done are my wife and my mom.
That sucked at first. I'm the oldest of four brothers, and I wanted my siblings to see the blood, sweat and tears I'd thrown into my work. They were part of the story! The problem was, they were not my target audience. They read mostly non-fiction, not military thrillers.
When I stopped looking to them for validation, and started seeking an audience in the real world, a magic thing happened: I started finding new readers.
If your work is good enough, and you know how to get it in front of your target market, your writing will speak for itself. Stop trying to push your art on people who don't want to be part of your tribe. Instead, focus on your craft and tap into the rest of the world.
2. It Makes You Look Desperate
If you're begging people to read your work, how do you think that makes you look? Instead of begging, get involved in communities like this one at The Write Practice. Share your love of writing with fellow writers. Learn from each other. Find out how Jane Smith grew her readership. Learn how John Doe went from two sales per month to 2,000.
All I'm saying is that instead of seeking a pat on the back, get to work. Learn how to write more good…um, I mean better. Learn how to market. Learn how to grow as a writer.
3. It Won't Make You A Better Writer
The second I focused on my writing instead of what other people thought, my work improved, I started selling more books, the path became clear.
If you're looking for others to tell you whether you're good or not (your editor aside), maybe you should try something a little more objective than writing. Ten people can read the same poem and come up with ten different critiques. That's the beauty of writing, it means something different to everyone. Just because one person says you're good doesn't mean the next one will.
It's Okay To Care
I'm not one of those people who think you can flip a switch and ignore criticism. I know it hurts. I'm human just like you. I like pats on the back. I like hugs.
What I am saying is that you should trust in yourself and in your craft. If you work hard, improve your writing and get it out into the world with a bold open heart, what else can you do?
Why do you seek validation?
For the next fifteen minutes, describe the scene when a new reader starts the book you wrote and is instantly sucked in, eyes glued, unable to stop reading.
Post your practice in the comments section below and please provide feedback for your peers.