7 Little Things Successful Writers Refuse to Worry About

Filed in When Writing Is Hard by on July 22, 2019 • views: 555

In a writer’s life, a series of difficult little things
can easily add up to one big feeling of discouragement.

Then we can find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a crisis that can threaten our careers.

If you’ve noticed this happening in your writing world lately, this post is for you.

7 Little Things Successful Writers Let Roll Off Their Backs

It may help to imagine all of these little things as squawking, irrelevant birds trying to gang up on you. Don’t let them push you out of your happy writer’s nest.

1. The Occasional Bad Review

Let’s face it—a bad review stings, regardless of who it’s from or the spirit in which it’s written. We’re writers, and we can’t help it. We care about our work, so it’s natural to feel disappointed when someone puts it down.

Try to remember that you can’t please everyone and that often the review is a lot more about the person giving it than it is about your work. Allow yourself to feel the disappointment, then do something that makes you happy, and remember that one or two negative reviews mean nothing in the grand scheme of a writer’s career.

It may also help to look over the reviews for your favorite books. Usually, there are at least a few less-than-flattering ones in there. Personally, I’m surprised at how often readers criticize even Pulitzer Prize-winning novels.

2. The Critical Comment on Social Media

I was unfortunate enough a couple months to have an individual stalk me on LinkedIn. For nearly every post I put up, he was there with a negative comment. The comments were completely unfounded. At one point, for example, he accused me of not making Amazon’s “look inside” feature available on my book because I was afraid of letting readers see what was inside!

This was one of his first attacks—before I realized what kind of person he was—so I politely explained that the book was in pre-order and that Amazon would make the look inside feature available after it was officially published.

Of course, he didn’t care about the explanation. He went on to make other totally unfounded negative comments after that, so I learned simply to ignore them and move on.

As they say, there are haters out there who seem to live for spreading negativity. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into their dark worlds. Be grateful for those people who like what you put out there, and focus on them.

3. The Beta Reader/Reviewer Who Doesn’t Follow Through

Have you noticed that people often promise things and then don’t follow through?

They may get busy, experience a life setback, or simply fail to do what they say they’re going to do. It happens a lot, particularly when it comes to following through on a promise to a writer.

You asked for beta readers willing to read and comment on your story by a certain period. Most of the time, you’ll be lucky if 75 percent of those who say they’ll do it actually do it. Often 50 percent is a more realistic expectation. Same goes for when you offer free books for reviews.

This can be particularly hard to swallow when you sent out print copies that you have to pay to send. It may comfort you to know that it’s normal. Those who follow through on what they promise are the special ones these days. Take care of them and do your best to forget about the rest.

4. The Self-Promoting Blog Post Comment

Most readers who comment on your blog posts stick to the subject of the post, but it’s also common to get those who simply use the comment box as a self-promotion tool.

You can spot them by the slick methods they use. They’ll start out with one or two sentences about your post, then they’ll launch into a long explanation of their views on the subject, often culminating with a reference to their book(s) or website.

It’s completely your choice whether to allow these comments to remain on your site or not. It can be particularly satisfying to hit that “delete” button. After all, you work hard on your website. Why let someone else piggyback off your efforts?

5. The Slow Period in Book Sales

You’re going along great guns, and then all of a sudden your sales screech to a halt.

It can be unsettling, especially when things were going well. What went wrong? You may scan all your marketing activities, looking for mistakes or gaps in coverage.

Feel free to take any corrective actions you want, but realize that it’s completely normal for sales to ebb and flow. Keep working on your promotion and consider trying out some new ideas, but don’t panic just yet. See how things go for a bit before deciding you need to do something drastic.

6. The Family Member/Friend Who Ignores Your Accomplishments

It can be a really tough pill to swallow when your best friend doesn’t buy your book, or your family members hardly mention it around the dinner table. Your work matters to you, so shouldn’t it matter to them, too?

I remember when my first novel came out, I was surprised at the lukewarm reception from some of my family members and friends. Sure, they were happy for me, but it was like passing happiness, similar to the response I might have gotten for say, landing a new client or buying a new car.

It was such a momentous time in my life, and they didn’t seem to understand. Looking back now, I realize that people who aren’t writers just can’t be expected to get it. It can be helpful to remember that none of us are perfect and we have all been guilty of failing to fully recognize another’s accomplishments.

Use the experience as a chance to learn more about what matters to those you care about, and then do yourself the favor of celebrating your own accomplishments in the best way you know how.

7. The Frequent Lack of Faith in Yourself

After you’ve been a writer for a couple of decades, as I have, you begin to realize that we all go through cycles, and one of those involves a lack of faith in our own abilities.

You’ve likely experienced it at least once, but you may have thought that once you got through it, you’d put it behind you for good.

Don’t count on it.

The writer’s life is full of ups and downs, and the downs are darned difficult. Problem is they seem to come back again and again.

The good thing is that if you’re afraid you can’t hack it, you’re probably doing something right. You’re probably challenging yourself, trying something new, or stretching yourself in areas you haven’t tried before.

Just keep going. Put your head down and go through the motions. Eventually, you’ll come out the other side. Realizing that these periods are common and to be expected can help.

As Richard Carlson, Ph.D., so famously said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.”

How do you deal with those bothersome little things?

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Comments (4)

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  1. Thanks, we do need encouragement. Writing can be lonely and we often get little feedback, so any negative feedback stands out more than is justified.
    ignore public comments and reviews in places like Amazon. John Grisham wouldn’t go replying to those. Nor should you. But that goes for good as well as bad. An author could reply to a good review and then be slated because she doesn’t reply to a bad one. Just maintain a dignified silence. Reviews and social media are for other people to express their opinions on books, not the writers.
    As for sales falling off: look at the time of year. Sales fall for my books at back to school time and before Christmas. People have more urgent uses for their money. They’ll come back to books. Especially when they get a new Kindle and Amazon credit for Christmas.

    Polite tip on writing: write in Word and do a search for ‘it’ and remove almost all instances. Nothing can improve your writing more quickly.

    • Colleen says:

      Thanks, Clare, especially for the tip about holiday sales drops. :O) And yes, “it” one of the many words we can search for and banish, along with the one I’m always deleting, “that!”

  2. Like so many things in life, #6 is often solved only when loads of financial success accompanies the accomplishment. As for #4, ooh that is a tough call whether or not to delete, especially after I’ve just been reading about how important comments are to boosting your visibility. I will ponder.

    p.s. Just wanted to add how much I enjoyed your newsletter this time with the goats! They are so cute (although I am deeply disturbed by the description of the show as a ‘meat goat’ show . . . I am choosing to stick my head in the sand about that!). I did a goat yoga class once and it was delightful.

    • Colleen says:

      Interesting what you say about financial success Lissa. Yes, perhaps in some families that would garner more attention, but probably not for the work–only the results of the work, and I think we writers would prefer the former. I always delete the self-promoting comments. I think of my website as my online home and those types of folks aren’t invited!
      Cool you’ve done the goat yoga! I’ve heard about it a lot, but I get to play with my mom’s goats so that’s just as good. The Boer goats are raised for meat–and they do make good meat–but in 4H it’s all about learning to raise and care for the animal. It’s always neat to see how many young kids are still interested in farming and agriculture.