If you follow Always Inspired Writing regularly, you surely know that I’m rather for writing for audience rather than against it. The reason for it is, I believe that if we want to make it as full time authors or bestselling authors (which I guess is everyone’s dream), we need to adhere to readers’ expectations.
Yet, if you have published more than just one work, you will quickly notice that pleasing readers is nearly impossible. There is always going to be one, or two, or even more readers who aren’t going to be pleased with what you wrote. Of course, as Andrea Schulman pointed out in one of her Law Of Attraction videos, seeking problems is going to make people find them.
In general, reviewers enjoy “being brutally honest”. The review is not about you or about your work, but about them. The reviewer is usually not a popular person. Shitting on you and your work is often the only way to make them shine. Reviewers are selfish and think about themselves; they seldom think about what the consequences of their “brutally honest” reviews have on the author, their feelings, reputation and sales.
Because reviewers don’t care about the author, we authors also shouldn’t care about the feedback that they leave either. Yet, we do. And this makes us:
- hate ourselves,
- hate what we write,
- look down on our skills,
- invalidate our progress,
- invalidate our writing journey,
- undermine our writing career,
- get severe writer’s block or give up writing alltogether (in worst cases).
Taking this into consideration, you might ask me, Maria, do you still believe that we should be writing for the audience?
My answer is, yes and no.
Yes, because we need to adhere to some rules if we want to make sales. These rules are e.g. writing according to our chosen genre or writing with our target audience in mind.
No, because writing is about us. We haven’t become writers to read someone’s demeaning comments and get depressed. We have become writers to tell our stories. To whom? To ourselves.
“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really — I was alive,” said Walter White at the end of season 5 of Breaking Bad. And if you think about it, it’s what every writer could say as well.
When you focus too much on what readers think about your writing, you need to take a step away. Think about a story that you have yet to write, and are excited about. Feel the passion. Let your characters speak to you. I like thinking about my characters as of real people that are sitting in the waiting room, waiting to play on the stage of your novel. Your characters are your team – and not your reviewers.
When the outside world drags you down by saying this story shouldn’t be like this, or that, find the power to say no.
You are the creator of the story and you are the only one to decide if it is or isn’t perfect. Sometimes, negative feedback might make you reconsider and fix some things. That’s ok. But it’s also ok to reject negative feedback when it brings nothing.
If your perpetually unhappy readers and their highly critical comments bring you down, give yourself the permission to tell them fuck you in your thoughts. I know that the negative feedback affects your sales and your reputation, but you can still prevent it from damaging your self esteem. And you need your self esteem to get up and become victorious in the end.
I would like to leave you with a song at the end of this post, it’s “Save Rock and Roll” by Fall Out Boy. If you interpret the lyrics in the context of being a discouraged author, this song can make you feel better.
I hope this helps.