Writing isn’t only a lonely endeavor but a thankless task. Many people who aren’t writers are often the most judgmental, and you see this in the countless negative reviews on Goodreads.
Every aspiring author out there has this fantasy of being applauded by agents, publishers, and readers. We have this dream of fans tweeting accolades about our work. When beta readers read our #WIP, we secretly daydream about their reply and hope for gushing responses. We cross our fingers and toes for friends, strangers, anyone to give us a tiny semblance of a positive compliment regardless if it’s a form of faint praise.
I have a variety of creative talents that seem to blend well with one another. I’m a content producer, content writer, content manager—and, well—content person. As a professional creator, wordsmith, and aspiring author, I’ve learned one big lesson…not to expect anything. Yes, I can be a perfectionist, and like many writers, I’m my own worst critic. But, I’ve found that the content industry is highly judgmental. This is true in marketing any product. If you’re writing a manuscript, you’re creating content that you hope to sell in the form of a book. Anytime you’re putting together a story, trying to connect with an audience, there will be personal bias. It’s unavoidable.
After many heartaches, frustrations, and yes, actual tears shed…I’ve given up on receiving flattery entirely. I’ve given up on the notion of kind words, nice language, and friendly exchange. This is especially true in the new world of COVID, where many people work remotely, and there’s a heightened sense of edginess, too. It could be that people have changed due to COVID. They’re more brash, loud, aggressive, argumentative. It could be that COVID and lockdowns have affected everyone’s mental health.
Whatever the reason is, I’m now a forever cynical writer, and you know something, I prefer it this way. Anytime I share my hard work that I have labored over…I let go of all expectations. You should, too. And you want to know why? Because having expectations of a fantasy gushy response is just that—a fantasy. If you’re that one in a million person that everyone says is the next J.K. Rowling or the next New York Times Bestseller, good for you. I’m happy for you. I really am. Congratulations, and I mean that sincerely. But in most cases, you will not receive a flood of over-the-top flattery. If anything, you’ll receive a healthy portion of ego-deflating comments.
It’s not that you need to flagellate yourself with negative self-talk. But, I’d rather prepare myself with the worst criticism by having zero expectations. In my professional life and in my creative passion projects that I hope to land me a book deal, I do not expect compliments of any kind. I know I’m a good writer, but I no longer have to prove it either. I don’t need external praise for something that I know in my heart I busted my ass over. You may not like it. But, that’s okay, you don’t have to like it.
After all, the important thing when it comes to expectations is to live up to our own.
The Bottom Line
I’ve settled for the fact that when it comes to content creation involving words on a page, it’s a highly subjective and very judgmental process. I’ve settled for the truth that there are assholes out there that will say assholish things about my work and not blink an eye. You should probably prepare yourself for this as well. I’ve settled for zero expectations and don’t expect anyone to sing my praise. And when and if I ever do get a pat on the back and a “great job,” I’ll consider it my lucky fucking day, and the moon will be blue, too.