{From Blog Post to Bookshelf} Why Anticipating and Appeasing the Haters is Probably Not Worth It

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I’m stuck on the last chapter of my book and it’s driving me crazy.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve become so worried about what critics of my “big ideas” will say–and trying to appease them in my text–that I’ve lost focus on the readers who will share my perspective. I’ve crossed over from considering potential “constructive feedback” to feeling paralyzed by what we’ll call “anticipatory rejection.”


It’s not a good place in which to write. (Or to allow one’s emotions to dwell, actually.)

We all do that, from time to time, I suppose–become so worried about what other people think that we cripple our own creativity, our mojo.

Many of us are prone to doing that when we become writers, artists, gardeners–parents even. We bounce between other people’s opinions and our own, trying to please everyone and frustrating ourselves. We scrutinize ourselves and our parenting through the lens of what everyone else is doing and wonder: “Am I doing this right?”

But it doesn’t do any good to invest an excess of time and energy into people who don’t get you–or to allow comparison  (that “thief of joy”)–to bog you down because it will sidetrack you from your goals, your dreams, your plans.

You need to spend the bulk of your precious energy on people who NEED you, your attention, your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your love. THAT will move you forward.

Lori Pickert, one of my fave writers/thinkers/bloggers, reminded me of that idea this morning in this marvelous post.

And I’m grateful to her for it. Because I need these words this Monday more than ever:

Okay. I’m going to go tackle that chapter now.

Wish me luck.

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  1. Yes. Paralysis by analysis. Pre-emptive critique. I’m terribly guilty of this as well; it’s a huge reason why I haven’t written much on my blog in recent days/weeks/months. 😦 Part of it is I feel like I’m shouting into the void, and part of it is the lack of anonymity I have (made ever more pointed by the fact that I’m easily googlable by interviewers). I know if I push through it it’ll ease up, but making the time when everything else in my life is demanding attention rightthisveryminute makes it far too easy to shove aside.

    • I really struggle with the anonymity thing, too. I try to preserve as much of it (the IMPORTANT stuff) as I can, but that makes writing so much harder.

  2. Well, I have to say your timing on this post (and the follow-through post from Camp Creek) was perfect. I spent much of the weekend fuming, re-thinking, re-writing responses in my head to someone. My weekend theme: “Beware of Vicious Gardener” (which I always thought was a funny phrase, until I actually encountered one). So I’m trying to follow the advice I give my daughter on such instances, “don’t let those people inside your head unless they are paying rent.” It’s funny how advice on these matters is sometimes easier doled out than acted upon. I’m going to proactively banish my own “thief of joy” today and embrace all the folks in my life who “scatter joy” instead.

    • Oh, yes! Much easier to dispense than act upon this advice. Though I did just have a FABULOUS, free-wheeling phone convo with someone on a topic tangentially related to my book. I took it as a good omen–that if I made the intention to place my energies where they are wanted, then I would attract more of those people to my corner of the universe.

  3. it is so tempting to jump straight to negative self-talk — why wait for other people to say it to us when we can just say it to ourselves?!

    good luck with your last chapter of the book — remember, it’s only a middle chapter of all the books you’re going to write. 🙂

  4. One, good luck!
    Two, my best advice on this point as a writing teacher (as distinct from a neurotic person with my own inner demons that get in the way of my production) is to keep in mind that *writing* and *editing* are different jobs. It is the job of the writer to get the ideas on paper. It is the job of the *editor* to say, okay, but let’s address this counterargument or make this clearer or but what about this other thing? And a good editor will make those questions *specific* enough for the writer to address in revision.

    In other words, you don’t want to silence the inner critic; you just want her to wait her proper turn. If you’re self-editing, the place for those questions is after the draft is on paper; one of the awesome things about writing for publication is that you can actually outsource that stuff to another human being entirely!

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head, Tedra.

      Because I was nearing the end point, I started slipping into editing mode and that’s exactly what tripped me up. I finally had to just get it where it was just “meh” but “complete” and turn it in. I did just that earlier this week.

      I’ve now stepped away from the manuscript for a bit, while the editor puts all the chapters together and does her first official edit.

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