Have you ever worked diligently on a creative piece of writing, held your breath for the approval of your audience, and then got rejected? You can't really understand the word, 'deflated' unless you've been emotionally rejected or you're a writer.
In the old days any serious writer worth their salt got rejected plenty of times before they got a publishing contract. It was a right of passage. But, nowadays the criticism on the internet runs rampant. It's not a neutral, "Sorry we're not interested at this time" in a monotone form letter from a professional. Criticism on the internet is downright dirty, personal, and debasing.
Express yourself the wrong way and look out! I learned recently that cyber bullying is a whole new form of psychology, on the internet. Whether a reader knows your work or not, they form a judgment about it. "Get used to it", the veteran's who hold the mantle chant to the rest of us. If their impression's negative, critics are empowered to lambaste the art and work behind a computer screen.
I saw a recent popular talk show program that discussed this phenomenon. The host kept referencing, Reputation.com and offered several infamous cyber bullies to come on his talk show and discuss their extremely negative comments about their panel presenters. All the cyber-bullies refused to be acknowledged for their scathing diatribes and outspoken views. Not one would respond.
The anonymity of the internet has emboldened and empowered the harshest critics to take aim. But for those fledgling artists fueled with the creative desire, how do we grow thick skin as the audience throws tomatoes on us or even worse, makes threats to us physically and emotionally?
Writing is a delicate emotional process and the stages from first creative spark to a confident writer can be a long exhausting process without any form of criticism. Although painful at times, most seasoned writers understand why it's worth it to press on and push through. The creative process can be an expansive force of energy releasing through the psyche. All great art has this soul lifting rush. Finding the muse can be a downright mystical experience.
It's worth the long slog to call oneself a writer. Creative self-expression from artists is what will buoy the spirits, lift up communities, and connect us all. As one of my best friend's likes to say, "Only the artists can save this world."
Here are 5-Sure Fire Steps to Help You Grow Thick Skin (while boosting your writing spirit)
1. Write Collaboratively with Others - form a community of writers to pass your work off to before casting it out to a wider audience. They will help cushion any blow.
Other writers also have great insights into different points of view, strategies on giving a certain effect, and if working on a longer piece, can help with character arcs and scene setting.
2. Build a Solid Tribe - when you first put your artwork out there find a group of like minded souls that resonate with your work. These are your tribe. People tend to hang in certain circles, artists hang with artists, coffee people with coffee people. Well, you get the picture. Gather as much strength as you can initially by building to a supportive audience.
3. Find Your Voice - The stronger your true voice comes through the writing in your style, syncopation, and rhythm the bolder you can make your statement, opinion, and analysis on life.
4. Write Something You Know - In the beginning it may sound cliche but, write what you know. You will be ten times stronger writing from an area of expertise, even if it is traumatic or highly-emotional, than a subject area that doesn't light your fire. Experience and wisdom will always show through.
5. Ignore the Comments - There comes a time when yes, we should listen to the critics to learn how to grow and expand through our writing. There is also a time to tune it out without remorse. If a cyber bully attacks your writing it's not about you necessarily, it's about them. Don't react even if you want to. Take a lesson from the talk show host and understand they don't want a productive dialogue or to work through anything. That want to get their anger out in a safe way. It's not about you, it's about them.
Remember these valuable words from my editor, "Good writing is a like a cork. It always rises to the top."