How can I write my story amidst the naysayers is a question I recently answered on my daily podcast for authors.
“The devil’s happy when the critics run you off.”Criss Jami
Each Friday on my podcast for authors, Your Daily Writing Habit, I answer an author FAQ. Here’s a recent one I pulled from the virtual mailbag and answered because I felt like many authors need to hear this message.
“How do I block out the voices of the naysayers in my life, the ones that say my writing will never amount to anything, and stay focused on writing my book? One family member keeps insisting that as long as I have a “real job” as something else I’m not an actual writer.”
Stories like this break my heart because so many artists have gone through this. Or like the person who submitted this question, they are unfortunately still dealing with it.
First, a note to anyone who thinks that if you’re not doing something for a living, it doesn’t count. There are countless stories of successful artists with “day jobs” whose work creates tremendous, lasting impact. I personally know many published authors who fall into this category.
For more notorious inspiration, look up the life story of Harvey Pekar who created the American Splendor comic book series. For years, he refused to quit his day job as a medical records clerk in a hospital, even after he had the means to do so.
Harvey valued his art AND his means of making a living, and obviously didn’t consider the two ideas to be conflicting notions.
But for those of you dealing with doubters, remember this: There are many definitions of success. There are many iterations of reaching a goal. Keep your mind open to see them. Don’t stay locked into what you “think” being a successful author or writer or creative looks like.
Success is how you define it, and the most success you will ever have is that which you create for yourself – versus putting it in the hands of others. This includes things like getting paralyzed by opinions from people you know, negative reader reviews, critics, and whether or not you ever earn a spot on bestseller lists.
Focus on the things that ARE within your control – your writing habit, the joy you find in creating, asking for help when you need it, leaning on a community of other writers, and committing to quality throughout the book creation process.
What other people think of you and your right to create art – however, whenever, and under whatever circumstances you want – is not on that list. Trust me, this realization makes for a much more satisfying life as an artist. Go forth and create!