Writers are the tenderest of souls. We share our ideas, our thoughts, and our fears with the public. We support and guide others through our words. We walk around with our hearts on our proverbial sleeves asking the world to love us. We can’t help it. We want people to like our writing. We feel bad if they don’t and then we mope because we feel that we have failed. But, writers who follow their passions and write from their hearts are never failures. It is when we seek approval from others instead of living our true purpose that we limit ourselves.
Here are just three ways that seeking approval from others holds us back as writers:
- Finding your voice is impossible. Seeking approval from others prevents us from truly expressing who we are through our writing. No matter the genre, writers put a bit of themselves into each line. If we constantly seek to please others, we never learn what pleases us. We never become our true selves as writers. When we fail to become who we are meant to be, we dishonor our gifts and rob the world of our particular light.
- Following the crowd undermines self-confidence. As kids we thought that hanging out with the cool kids would make us feel cool too, but we ended up feeling like frauds. We quaked with fear at the thought of being outted as the dork that was riding the cool kids’ coattails. Similarly, our self-confidence as writers takes the hit when we seek approval from others. We cannot feel confident in our own skin when we are trying to please others. Like the bug in the Edgar suit in “Men in Black”, the ill-fitting, fake persona rapidly deteriorates.
- Failure is inevitable. Seeking approval from others necessarily leads to failure because we are not living to our potential. We are not expressing the very thoughts that someone is waiting desperately to hear. We can never build an audience when we are not true to ourselves because people sense our fear of being who we are. They know we are not being real and they are repelled instead of drawn to us.
Most of us fall victim to the desire for approval at some point in our lives. That’s okay. It’s a learning opportunity. We learn that failure is not in having tender spirits. Nor is it in laying those spirits bare for the world to see. That is the triumph. Only the truly brave can share who they are with the world and survive the fallout. No, my friend, writers are among the bravest people on earth. Our greatest failure is in seeking approval for our writing. In seeking that validation, we do our craft and ourselves a great disservice.