Naysayers, Part 1

Naysayers, Part 1

Let me start by saying something controversial: People mean well.

In my worldview, they really do. They’re just sometimes extremely confused about how to be supportive.

Writers by necessity live in a somewhat insular world. We spend hours and hours alone with words and with the people in our heads. We get excited over things like point of view and the denouement and world building. We spend our hard-earned money to go to conferences, take classes, and enter contests. We collect rejection letters.

Regular people often do not get us.

They don’t understand that for some of us, writing is an engaging and enjoyable hobby, and just as if we were, say, snow-skiers, we’re spending our money on our hobby. Some of us are working toward the end goal of publishing, and like anyone else pursuing a goal, we’re getting training and coaching and mentoring from others who have gone before us. This is called planning for success.

But still, no matter how well we explain it, people sometimes don’t get us. What people don’t understand, they tend to judge. This is just human nature. I wish I could say that those who love us most and spend the most time with us aren’t naysayers, but the hard truth is that sometimes they are.

We might not want to cut these folks out of our lives, but we also don’t want to live with the negative energy they carry around.

So, what can we do?

First Things First

We start dealing with Naysayers by cultivating confidence in our own choices.

This is easier said than done, but I hope the tips in this little section will give you some ideas on how to build a stronger foundation to help you respect your own work.

Find your tribe

Never underestimate the supportive power of the group.

When we’re surrounded by people who don’t get us or what we’re doing, then also surrounding ourselves with like-minded people – especially creatives – can be hugely valuable. A once-a-month writing chapter meeting or a weekly critique group discussion is sometimes enough support so that we can start feeling good and keep feeling good about what we’re doing. They understand what our challenges are, and can provide great tools and tips from their own experience to help you stay motivated about your story.

If you’re in a situation where you can’t meet your tribe face-to-face, online groups are available. You may be able to use videoconferencing (or Apple’s FaceTime or Skype) to connect with other writers.

A supportive tribe embraces you (figuratively or literally), accepts your work, gives you honest feedback, laughs with you, cries with you, and leaves you feeling stronger than when you arrived.

Get serious (and vocal) about your writing schedule

A difficult truth is that we teach people how to treat us.

If we don’t take our writing time seriously and therefore tolerate random interruptions or allow ourselves to be enticed to play hooky, then others won’t take our writing time seriously, either.

On the other end of the commitment spectrum, there’ve been times when the Significant Other and I have butted heads over our respective schedules, and nine times out of ten, it’s because I haven’t said to him, “Hey, babe, I’m going to switch my writing hours to the afternoon instead of the morning.”

Sharing our own schedule while respecting those of our family members is an act of
connection. If I don’t say anything about what I’m doing or when, I’m basically creating a problem with those closest to me when suddenly I’m not around to help with the yard or the kids.

Other people’s feelings are not your responsibility (or your fault)

Ah, the misunderstandings here that result in terrible pain for all concerned! For some
reason, we think we have control over another person’s feelings. When you think about it, that’s sort of like believing we have control over another person’s digestive system.

Uh… no.

If you’ve laid the groundwork for your writing time by letting the household and/or friends know you’ll be out of pocket for some number of hours on such-and-such days, then you’ve done your part: You’ve made your schedule public to the folks who need to know.

But naysayers can be sensitive creatures, and they may feel resentful, angry, abandoned, or sad if you don’t drop everything to pay attention to them when they demand you do so. If they give random pieces of uninformed advice, they might feel those emotions when they see you are making your own decisions despite their attempts to guide you.

Good news: You are not responsible for their disappointment or frustration. Their
expectations are.

For next time

The next post on Naysayers will outline some of the types of naysayers we can run into and provide some strategies for working with negativity.

 

Sandra K. Moore

Sandra K. Moore has been writing one thing or another since she could scribble on a Big Chief tablet. A former Silhouette Bombshell author, Sandra has given up (temporarily) the kickass heroine and is now writing from her softer side for the self-published Promise House series. This novella quartet explores the journeys of four young women finding their way — and remaining true to themselves — through the social expectations and turmoil of 1950’s Houston.

6 thoughts on “Naysayers, Part 1

  1. Hey Sandra, thanks for a very encouraging post! I’ve found that weekly meeting with my critique partners is essential to my progress. I write on weeks we don’t meet, but I’m much more ‘in the mood’ when I have that opportunity to share progress and time with my peeps! And since this is my designated writing time, I’m going to shut up and get back to work – which means closing the internet!

    1. Agreed, Terri.

      When we meet regularly with a group, we’re making a commitment not just to the group but to ourselves that we will participate. That’s sometimes enough accountability to keep us going (though sometimes not), and it also keeps us in touch with others who are “going through” what we’re going through.

      Very helpful!

  2. This setting aside writing time and honoring it has always been a struggle for me. For 20+ years, I’ve been a stay-at-home wife and mom. My job is to take care of my three guys, and oftentimes, their needs come at inconvenient times. What I’m slowly learning, as I transition into a semi-retired mom, is that I can’t fart around with my “free” time and then get all miffed when someone needs me to drop what I’m doing to care for them. On the other hand, I think it sometimes helps when I take my writing time while they’re around. Actually seeing me write helps them get it a little more.

    As time is running out on our current goal, I’ve had paper and pens and whatnot scattered all over the dining room table. This physical reminder works to convey the importance of my writing — both to my hubby and to me.

    1. That’s so right, Dawn — realizing that fiddling around during our writing time can be just as much a part of the problem as all those demands placed on us.

      Dear Him is finally trained a bit to know that when I’m writing, he’s not to come pester me, even to be sweet and affectionate. I love that he wants to do that, but those little gestures totally break my concentration. I also blatantly use Flowstate as a bludgeon: “Honey, I’m about to do Flowstate, so I’m going dark for 20 minutes.” He recognizes the danger of an interruption under that circumstance, and often then leaves me alone for the rest of the afternoon…

  3. In my life I don’t deal regularly with naysayers, which is a lovely thing. The one teeny tiny negative to that is I’m afraid my “skin” is thin – hence my fear of bad reviews. On the flip side, the one, single, biggest naysayer in my life is me, and as much as I’d like to get rid of her, I find she is an ingrained part of me.

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