I recently took part in the Women Read / Women Write conference in Pittsburgh. It was a great time and I learned a lot.
I took a couple seminars specifically targeted at writers, which were both incredibly illuminating. But I want to pick out just one thing a teacher said in those classes and talk about it.
Teri Coyne taught the class ‘Daring to Draft’ on getting through your first draft. At some point she asked one of my fellow students a question about her writing, I can’t remember the exact response anymore (hey, it was two weeks ago, give me a break!) but it was an answer that subtly put her own writing down. And Teri said something along the lines of “We’re ingrained to only put the negative out there.”
And she’s right! How many times have I told people when they hear I write “It’s no big deal, I’m not very good.” Or “It’s not good enough to get published, but I like doing it.” It’s very similar to when I used to tell fat jokes about myself. If I’m the one making the jokes it won’t hurt as bad, right? Preemptively cut down your own work, and rejection from outside won’t be as bad.
On the same thread, those people that do say positive things about themselves and their work usually get a giant side eye. “Oh she thinks she’s so awesome, she actually says nice things about her work.”
But dammit, why shouldn’t we be kind to ourselves?! Writing is hard, and even attempting to put something creative out into the world is intimidating as hell. We should all be patting ourselves on the back for putting ourselves out there like that.
And yea, there will always be people who hate what you put out into the world. But you don’t need to be one of those people for yourself.
So I am issuing you a challenge. Next time someone asks you about your writing, try and say something positive. Don’t immediately put yourself down. I’m not saying you should run around and claim to be the next Ernest Hemingway, just try something along the lines of “Yea, I work really hard to be a good writer, and I’m proud of the work I do.”
Now was that so hard?
Brandy Ayers is a writer of erotic romance. Or romantic erotica, depending on how you look at it.