Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cut Out the Critics

We've all encountered criticism in our writing.  Sometimes, that criticism is justified.  When someone points out that our stuff needs work - maybe we haven't properly developed our characters or the plot is too thin - that's acceptable criticism.  However, that's not the only kind of criticism we encounter.

The kind of criticism I'm talking about is the discouraging kind, where someone in our lives, usually somebody important, tried to dissuade us from writing at all.  This person might be a parent, a co-worker, or a dear friend, but the general gist is, "That's a nice hobby, but don't quit your day job."

Let me say this plainly - make it as clear as you can to this person that they need to shut the hell up, and if they don't, cut them out of your life.  There's no place in life for someone who will discourage you from even attempting to follow your passion.
(Much like these pigeons, some people will just strut around and shit on you)
I've boiled these kinds of discouraging critics into two categories.  The first group is the people that don't believe in you.  These folks will claim they're acting out of love, for they don't want to see you waste your time on such an obvious long shot.  They don't want your heart broken and are only looking after your best interests.  Sorry, but I have no room in my life for people who want to hold me back, no matter the reason.  If they don't believe in me or my abilities, then they should just be quiet about it.  However, to try and actively discourage someone from pursuing their dreams just because you're afraid of what might happen, that's the mark of an either an emotional coward or a control freak - either they don't want to see you in pain because that'll cause them pain(and they know you're going to fail, so why make that pain inevitable), or what you're doing isn't what they think you should do, so they put obstacles in your way.

The second group of people are simply jealous.  Lots of people - LOTS of people - say they're writing a book.  Most will go on and on about their stuff, all while making excuses why they haven't actually written it yet.  When you tell them you've finished a novel or two and are on the verge of publishing, they can't figure out what to say.  They just know they're more talented than you, and they can't believe that such a hack did what they couldn't.  It's really quite sad, but they'll do whatever they can to tear you down in order to minimize their own lack of success in getting their idea from their head to their novel.

Not only should you never take heed from either of these types of people, you need to boot them from your life.  Tell them to get lost, and make no bones about it being because they're a schmuck who doesn't deserve your company.  Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people who'll be happy to see you chasing your dreams.  No, that doesn't mean you should have people around you be yes-men who applaud you as the next Stephen King when you're not there yet - good friends give candid feedback - but they should help you along the journey from what you were to what you want to be.  Their criticism should always be phrased in ways that nudges you towards greater success, not in ways that are designed for you to give up.  Anyone who's been around the block more than a day knows the difference in the two.

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