It’s no secret that writers get down on their work. It kinda comes with the territory. We creatives have very few objective standards by which to measure our work, so our imaginations (which are obviously very active) team up with anxiety to make us feel bad.
And while transparency is a good thing for the sake of connecting with other writers and appearing human and relatable in the eyes of readers, there comes a point when it becomes detrimental to any potential connections.
After a certain point, it just becomes either a pity party or shit talking.
Neither of those will win you brownie points.
So where’s the line between transparency and self-deprecation?
It’s right between, “I’ve been feeling discouraged,” and, “My work is terrible.”
The former is a good approach to openness. The latter… not so much.
Tell your readers how you’ve been feeling about the writing process. Share the specific challenges that you’re facing. Don’t just say that your book is awful or that no one will ever want to read it or that it doesn’t matter.
Readers like seeing behind the curtain. There are so many aspects of being a writer that non-writers never hear about and would never guess at. The complications of advertising, the struggles of plotting or pantsing, the seemingly unending marathon that is editing, the tedium of formatting and uploading, the heartbreak of querying…
Most non-writers have no idea.
Get into the nitty gritty and tell them what you’re facing. Let them into your world.
Just don’t trash talk yourself.
But why should you avoid talking shit about your work?
Well, the aforementioned affect that pity parties can have on readers is a pretty big reason. You want people to want to interact with you. You want readers to want to see your posts and read your captions.
And since people can usually tell when someone goes fishing for compliments, that’s not a great thing to do.
But there are other reasons, too.
Your mindset matters.
The way you talk about your work will effect your perception of it. The words we use are powerful and can reinforce or alter our beliefs regarding our work.
Saying, “I’m discouraged because I don’t know what scene comes next,” addresses the real issue and allows you to confront what’s really going on while connecting with others in a real, human way.
Saying, “I’m a shit writer who can’t even write another scene, let alone finish this book or write something anyone will want to read,” does no good. It doesn’t address any actual problems. It’s over-dramatic for no reason.
And not only will it make you feel worse, if done often, it very well could chase away readers or scare away other writers from interacting with you.
If you’re running an author platform, chances are, you want readers coming in, not leaving, and you probably want to make friends with fellow writers. Be open and vulnerable, yes. But don’t trash talk your book or yourself.
You should be a cheerleader for your work.
And not just because you want readers. Writing is a passion project, first and foremost. The vast majority of writers do this for the love of writing, not because it pays millions and millions of dollars. (Because it usually doesn’t.)
If you don’t like your story, if you don’t like your characters, why are you writing that story? Write something you like, something you can speak positively and passionately about.
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