Developing A Thicker Skin As A Writer – The Climb #228

/, The Climb, Writing/Developing A Thicker Skin As A Writer – The Climb #228

Developing A Thicker Skin As A Writer – The Climb #228

Wednesday 6th September 2017

Well my friend replied to my email with the comments on her story, so she’s still speaking to me.    But in a few IMs she did raise a good point.  How do you develop a thick skin when it comes to someone critiquing your story?  You should blog about it, she said.

I’m not sure I’ve developed a thicker skin.  Every time I send off a story for someone to read and it comes back with comments, it’s still a stab in the gut.  I feel like I’ve failed, that… surely if I could do this writing game, I would have perfected it by now.

I think the first thing I do is acknowledge that stab.  I know I SHOULDN’T be bothered by it, but I still am.  I always will do.  I’ve accepted it as part of the process.  And so, when something comes back  (such as my failed rewrite of chapter 1), I throw my hands in the air, write off the day and go buy ice cream.

I really do that!

I allow myself time to be upset, to be pissed off, to wallow in my self-misery.  Fuck anyone who says you should just man / woman up and take it on the chin.  Today I’m going to wallow and have a pity party for one.

It comes with a condition though.  I have just one day.  The next day I have to get up and carry on.  I can’t feel sorry for myself, I have just one day and during that day I can be as pathetic as I like… but I have to move on the following day.

There’s also another part to this.    The author serves the story.  This is a fundamental belief of mine, and yes, at times it does get forgotten because I am not perfect and like to eat ice cream when I get critiqued.  But, in short, fuck the author’s feelings, do whatever the story needs.  If chapter 1 is shit and needs rewriting, then it needs doing so.

I think it’s far too easy to think of the author as an artist, before the story as the craft.  The craft has to come first.  For me, I guess I want to be a writer of great stories, rather than a great writer (OK, so I want to be a great writer of great stories, but that’s just me!)

Of course, you should always seek out the harshest criticism you can find.  A friend telling you that your shit story is great, isn’t going to help the story, only your ego.  I see it a lot of the time, and whilst you need people to couch it in terms that make that bitter pill easier to swallow (“the writing was great but the plot just wasn’t there”) it shouldn’t be so sugar-coated that you lose sight of the problem.

I think it’s also a case of ambition.  I know the level I want to play at, and I know to get there I need to get a WHOLE lot better.  And I’m not going to get there without finding honest feedback.  Yes, it’s tough.  But if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

So in some perverse way, when I get some particularly crushing feedback, I like to tell myself that other people would give up at this point, that others don’t have the mental fortitude to weather this storm.  And yes, it’s feeding my ego a bit, but let’s not lie.  The mere act of writing something that you think someone else might enjoy has a level of ego attached to it.  And to write with the intention of people actually paying to read it?

Keeping ego and humility in balance is difficult.  Be too egotisitical, the author will always put himself before the story.  Be too humble and you’ll never push yourself forward, never believe in yourself enough to push through those tough times whether it be a rejection, harsh feedback or even trying to write a difficult chapter.

So, as I’ve told a few people, that the real trick is to push from both ends, to be humble enough to know how good you really are, but be egotistical enough to believe you can be better.  It’s difficult, and I certainly get it wrong from time to time, but if that’s what I need to do to tell a great story, then it’s a worthy sacrifice.

So if I get a rejection, then the story wasn’t good enough, and I need to make it better.  That might mean writing a better story or improving my craft.  But I guess, because the focus is on the story rather than me, it can sometimes make that rejection easier to deal with (the ice cream totally helps though)

So I don’t think it ever gets easier, it’s just something you get more used to and find coping mechanisms for.   It’s tough and mine certainly aren’t perfect, but you do what you must to serve the story.

If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Past Issues: 227 226 | 225 224 | 223 222 221
220 219 |218 | 217 216 215 214 |  213 | 212 211 210 | 209 | 208 207 206 205 204 203 202 | 201
200 | 199 198 197 | 196 195 | 194 | 193 | 192 191 190 189 | 188 | 187 | 186 185 | 184 183 182 181 |
180 | 179 | 178 | 177 | 176 175 | 174 173 172 | 171 | 170 169 |  168 | 167 | 166 | 165 | 164 | 163 | 162 | 161 |
160 | 159 | 158 | 157 156 155 | 154 | 153 | 152 | 151 | 150 | 149 | 148 | 147 | 146 | 145 144 | 143 | 142 | 141 |
140 | 139 | 138 137136 | 135 | 134 | 133 | 132 | 131 | 130 | 129 | 128 | 127 | 126 | 125 | 124 | 123 | 122 | 121 |
120 | 119 | 118 | 117 | 116115 | 114 | 113 | 112 | 111 | 110 | 109 | 108107106105104103 | 102 | 101|
100 | 9998 | 97 | 96 | 95 | 94 | 93 | 92 | 91 | 90 | 89 | 88 | 87 | 86 | 85 | 84 | 83 | 8281|
80 | 79787776 | 75 | 74 | 73 | 72 | 71 | 70 | 69 | 68 | 67 | 66 65 |  64 | 63 | 62 | 61 |
60 | 59 | 58 | 57 | 56 | 55 | 54 | 535251 |50 | 49 | 48 | 47 | 46 |45 | 44 | 43 | 42 | 41 |
40 | 393837 | 36 | 35 | 34 | 33 | 32 | 31 |30 | 29 | 28 | 27 | 26 | 25 2423 | 22 | 21 |
20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 151413 | 12 | 11 |10 | 9 | 8 | 76 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

2017-09-08T15:25:36+00:00 September 7th, 2017|Process, The Climb, Writing|0 Comments

Leave A Comment