Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Own Worst Enemy

*It's me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence.
~Paula Cole, "Me," This Fire*

As writers we have so many people to impress.
Sometimes we write a great scene, or great book (at least we think we do) only to have it ripped apart. Either by a friend, colleague, agent or editor. Critiques can sting. Rejections can sting. Especially if you go into it thinking your book is perfect and there isn't any room for change.
I still get down after a critique. I still don't think I'll ever be good enough, but I think that's human nature. If people say we suck, we think we suck. If people say how wonderful our writing is, or how much they love our book, we still think we suck. We will never be good enough in our own eyes.
I think what I'm trying to get across, is this. YOU have to believe in your work. YOU have to love your book, even if you've read and edited it a million times. If you don't believe in yourself, then no one else will either.
Everyone has an off day, and I can definitely work on having a better attitude about things. Instead of saying "This will never sell", or "Why do I even bother writing anymore", I tell myself that I AM good enough. That I WILL get published someday.
Now I'm not going to say rejections don't hurt, because every time I get one it rips a little piece of my heart out. I'm good at hiding my frustrations and doubts, but inside they tend to eat me alive sometimes. No matter how hard we work, we are never going to be perfect. Not even bestselling authors are perfect. Someone will always have a suggestion on how it could be better, and even after we hit the bestsellers list, we still won't think we're good enough.
That is why we need to keep going. Keep doing the best we can, and eventually things will all work out. Have a positive attitude, love what you do, and kick your pessimism to the curb. Your hardest critic will always be yourself, so learn to see the good in your work and all you do.

How do you handle rejection and criticism? Do you let it roll off your shoulder? Or do you stew about it until it drives you crazy?

*I swear I'm not depressed or anything, this topic just happened to be on my mind. :)


Melissa said...

I actually like criticism. I don't always agree with everything that's said to me but I always try and think of why someone said what they did and if there's a different way to solve the problem (if I don't like their suggestions). But in the end, I like critiques because they help make my book better -- and I want my book to be the best it can be.

Claire Gregory said...

Hey Chantele- I just posted about similar stuff last Thursday, because it's been on my mind lately, too.

On the topic of being your own worst enemy- I've done a fair few job interviews in my time, and a long while ago somebody told me that you should never sell yourself down or apologise for anything. Turn all your weaknesses into strengths. Don't ever say anything like, "I'm not all that good with Macs but I try really hard." Say, "I'm great with the computer processing system I use now, and I'm a really adaptable person, so I'm sure I can figure them out if needed."

Okay, that might not be a perfect example (oops, see me apologising?), but these days I'm running the interviews, and sometimes I want to just put my hand up and stop people putting themselves down. It's so subconscious, we don't even realise how often we're doing it. All this applies to the writing process, too, and to the way we think about ourselves. Never put yourself down, and never apologise for the things you can't do well. As long as you manage to do that, you'll project self-confidence to others, and it will get you further.

Devin Bond said...

I'm definitely my own worst enemy. When I get into a funk it's almost always because of me. (Hate stupid funk-periods!)

When I get critiques, I generally get upset at first, then calm down. I'm getting better at handling it.

Misha said...

I haven't submitted anything yet, so I'll let you know when I get there.

As for crit, I tend to see it as a learning curve, so it tends not to hurt too badly. Still, I always find myself wincing when I open up critted documents.

Loved the post. :-)

Demitria said...

Writers have to walk a fine line. They have to be confident but also able to listen to criticism. Good luck with your edits.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

A thick skin! Rejection is the spice of life, just not one we enjoy.
It always bugs me, but I look for the positive encouragement to keep me going. Usually about the time I get zapped, a fan sends an email or leaves a comment that boosts me right back up again.

Candice said...

It really depends on who is critiquing my work and how they're doing it. I've had some critique that was so helpful and motivating and others that paralyzed me. If I get a comment that stings, I try to sit on it a few days and then go back to it. I'm usually in a less sensitive mood after I get a little space from stuff like that.

Patti said...

I tend to dwell on bad critiques for a little while then I re-read them and usually see where they were coming from.

Even though we do need to love our work, a little encouragement from others goes a long ways.

Kasie West said...

So true. We are hardest on ourselves. But I like your advice of telling ourselves we are good enough. It's like that old SNL skit where that guy said over and over: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" Even though they were poking fun at it, I think there is a huge truth to positive affirmation.

Lisa said...

It is so hard to believe praise. I wish I could find a way to trust the praise I get instead of twisting it into something dark.

AllMyPosts said...


I am writing for the love of writing and have a dedicated set of friends who really give me valuable advice.

I never submitted a book till date so I dunno how I will handle rejections though I know I need to face them one day.

with warm regards

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Hi Chantele - just stumbled across your blog and know how you feel. The publishing industry can be so brutal. . .even the waiting makes me crazy LOL! New follower:)

Regina said...

I couldn't agree with you more on this. I am my own worst enemy. But you are right, if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will either. I truly believe that. I believe in what I do but I am still my toughest critic. :)

Sarah Allen said...

This is a great post :) I really needed it. I just wrote about rejection on my own blog, actually, and I think this is a fresh, healthy perspective on it. I've had a heavy rejection week, but that doesn't have anything to do with my writing ability. It has to come from inside. Thanks for this :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Anonymous said...

Good advice! Most importantly, write for your own pleasure. If you like it, someone else has got to like it, too! :D If you don't categorize it as rejection, I'd say I handle it pretty well. But I haven't had my writing ripped apart. . . yet. And criticism, just take what you want.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Michelle- I totally agree with liking criticism. I really appreciate the people who are actually trying to help make my book better. I welcome their ideas and love how they point out my strengths and weaknesses. It helps me be a better writer in general.

Claire- I agree. We all need to stop putting ourselves down!

Devin- I'm getting better at getting critiques as well. Sometimes it's not fun, but they almost always end up helping me!

Misha- I always wince when I open that crit document! LOL

Demitria- Thanks! Good luck on submission! :)

Diane- I know what you mean. I always try to look for encouragement from my crit partners and myself! :)

Candice- I agree. When I get a comment that stings, I sit on it for a while and try to figure out how to use it for the good. I also try not to dwell on it too long though. If it was a nasty one, I usually take the knife out of my back and ignore it. ;)

Patti- I don't think I could have finished my book without encouragement from others. Great point.

Kasie- I love that SNL skit. So true!

Lisa- I agree. It's really hard. I still have a hard time with it, and probably always will.

Allmyposts- I write because I love writing as well. Rejections do hurt, but I get through them. I think they ultimately make me a better writer. :)

Lindsay- Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm going to check out yours now! ;) The waiting drives me crazy too!! I'm learning to be a VERY patient person! Sort of...;)

Regina-I believe in myself as well, but I can be really hard on myself sometimes.

Sarah- Thank you so much! Rejections sucks, but it makes me work so much harder and I think makes me a better writer! Sorry about the rejections. Believe me, I've had plenty so I know how you feel. :)

Madeline- Great attitude. With criticism I find I need to take it or leave it. Don't dwell on it too long or you'll drive yourself crazy.

Thanks for stopping by today guys! What a great discussion and really awesome comments! :)