main image

main image

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Writing Support

I have been undecided what to write about this week. I had two other posts which occurred to me, one after the other, and then something else reared its ugly head. It made me cross and it's important so the other topics have been pushed aside.

I have been lucky during my writing life. Not many people have tried to undermine my confidence. I can probably count them on one hand and there are many, many more who have supported and encouraged me. But the ones who knock you down are the ones who force you to question the value of what you do and the quality of your work. If you are not in a good place they can make you thoroughly miserable. I was reminded of this when speaking to a group of lovely, talented writer friends this week. A couple of them were talking about their work not being respected, which in effect means they are not being accorded respect themselves. The reason was this, because what they choose to write, (and are very successful at), isn't deemed 'serious' or 'literary' enough. As writers we have probably all had people who have undermined our confidence, some completely inadvertently. But when it is done by other writers, that is something else. That is unforgiveable. Other writers know that the words don't just flow on to the page and that your self-esteem can plummet when a piece of work is not going well or a rejection letter pops into the inbox or on to the doormat.

Writer friends, whether individuals or as part of a group, should be supportive, encouraging, motivating, inspiring, generous. That is not to say everything should be sugar-coated. If you want to improve your work, criticism should always be welcome, as long as it is given from a place of kindness, from wanting the best for the other person. Some people, I'm afraid, see other writers as a threat, especially if they occupy a similar genre. But everyone is unique and as a result we all have something different to offer. So choose your writer friends with care, do not read your work out to anyone who you do not trust and do not let anyone, anyone, make you feel small or as if what you are doing is inferior. Treasure those who support you in your ventures and feel proud of what you have achieved.

Thank-you for reading and I hope you have a lovely week.


3 comments:

  1. Excellent blog. I've written an article for Writers' Forum on constructive feedback which I think will be in the next issue, because I've seen some atrocious examples of writers knocking other writers. I completely agree with you. My current career as a writer was set back 20 years by exactly the kinds of negative feedback you describe (although that wasn't other writers). But hey, I made it eventually and proved them all wrong. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Exactly, Susie! Even though ignorant or unkind criticism hurts, you have to somehow make it urge you towards proving them all wrong, rather than letting the inevitable self-doubts undermine you. We somehow need a tough enough skin to take the set-backs of rejection which are part and parcel of a published writer's life, combined with the permeability to let useful criticism and suggestion through. Sometimes nastiness gets through that filter. My experience of other writers is that the vast majority are generous with their time and their knowledge to help others. Thank you to those many, including you, Alex, who have helped me and keep helping me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Susie. I'm so glad you defeated your detractors. Satisfying isn't it?! I too have proved a couple of people wrong. They were in the industry and my worry is that other writers who aren't so stubborn might be put off a writing life for ever by ill-judged, thoughtless comments. I'll look out for your article in Writer's Forum.

    ReplyDelete