Saturday, September 03, 2011

Not Caring

One of the greatest skills you can acquire as an author is a thick skin.

Once you unleash a story onto the world, it no longer belongs to you. When it was in your head, and on your computer during the writing/rewriting process, it was a personal, private thing. But the moment your words go out into the world, they are subject to the opinion of strangers. What was once personal is now public.

Do yourself a huge favor, and don't listen to the public.

This goes for more than your literary endeavors. If you blog, or speak in public, or tweet on Twitter, you are a Public Figure.

That means some people aren't going to like you.

And you shouldn't care.

You shouldn't care about people liking you, either. Praise is like candy. It tastes good, but it isn't good for us.

The opinions of strangers, good or bad, should have no power over you.

Now, I'm not saying that your should live in a vacuum, oblivious to how you effect the world. In order to be a good writer, and a good person, it is important to have trusted allies pressure-check you.

These allies include family, close friends, and your agent, assuming you have a good relationship with your agent.

These are the people whose opinions do matter. You trust them, because they know you and your writing.

But anything outside of your inner circle should best be ignored.

Getting angry with reviews, or critics, or anonymous trolls, is a waste of energy, and serves no purpose.

Getting an inflated sense of worth because strangers praise you is one of the shallowest, emptiest ego boosts around.

In all cases, it is better not to care.

If you're lucky enough to be read, you will attract detractors and sycophants. You will be ridiculed, celebrated, roasted, venerated, criticized, analyzed, and talked about.

You have no control over what people say about you.

You have full control over how you react to what people say about you.

Not caring doesn't come naturally. In order to truly not care, you need to be confident, self-aware, and mentally healthy. You need to be deliberate. You need to understand your effect on others. You need to understand your needs, and how they're met.

The world is filled with a wide variety of people. But only a few of them should really matter to you. The rest are just white noise. They can amuse. But don't give them more power than that.

One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit.

But don't take my word for it. My opinion shouldn't matter to you at all.