Everyone has an Opinion

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of being a writer is handling negative reviews. Everyone has an opinion. We can’t please everyone or write a book that will illicit the same response from every person who reads it. As much as we hope for good reviews, the fact that we all have varied opinions means that not everybody likes every book. Therefore, the occasional negative review may be valid. But when readers give damaging critiques without constructive feedback, a writer has little means to improve.

Focus on the Positive

When you are brand new to the field of publishing, it is easy to be steamrolled or overwhelmed by what you don’t know. Too often, it’s easy to focus on the people who emphasize what you did wrong over what you may have done really well. I again credit the editor who read my first draft and provided an honest, constructive critique of both content and style in order to help me improve my plot, characters, and dialogue. 

I also attended workshops and classes, and learned to apply the techniques presented to my work and writing. One of my biggest takeaways was the realization that in art, there is always room for different perspectives and opinions. Since experiences are likewise widely variable, those points should be considered when examining the validity and worthiness of critiques. 

Surround Yourself with Support

It’s unfortunate, but trolls and dour naysayers exist everywhere. This is why it’s so important to find a writer’s community and friends who are readers. They aren’t there to agree with bad writing or stylistic habits, but to provide support. I go by an old medical resident adage that is sad, but true: “When you swim with sharks and get bitten, it’s helpful not to bleed.” 

When someone provides an opinion in a forum that is unhelpful or downright painful, commiserate with friends and avoid challenging people who are hurtful or malicious. Learning from constructive critiques about content, style, or outright errors is one thing. Being harassed or demoralized by negative individuals who say or offer damaging assessments of your efforts is another. 

Go Forth and Be Productive

One has to grow a thick skin. You also must realize that this is part of the process of becoming an author. Thoughtful and carefully presented critiques will lead to your continued growth as a writer. Hurtful reviews without useful feedback should not weigh on your mind.


The Dark Side of Writers’ Groups

In my fiction, I love taking readers for a walk on the dark side of medical practice. Recently, I decided to extend that walk to the dark side of writers’ communities. Typically, most writers’ groups are constructive and supportive, but on occasion, a few bad apples crop up. I want aspiring authors to not only feel successful, but be successful. More importantly, if you’re starting out on your writer’s journey and unwittingly venture into the dark side of writers’ groups, I want you to know that you are not alone.

Believe in Yourself

The first step to your success is to believe in yourself. This doesn’t mean you sway to the side of arrogance or not being open to instruction and honest critique. Just be wary of people who will attempt to deflate your sense of well-being and sense of self in the guise of being “helpful.”

I regretfully saw a tweet from a fellow indie writer that was less than supportive for a another writer. She actively spread negative sentiments when this author announced the publication date for her upcoming book. I was surprised at the behavior. This “community” reprimanded a fellow writer for announcing her success!

The way I see it is that people will be themselves, and social media can be a real cesspool of negativity. However, it can and should be a way to build community, meet other writers, and support each other. Moving forward, go with your gut to determine the difference between negative energy and positive support, but always believe in yourself.

By the way, I friended and followed the writer who was berated by this group. That is what indie writers should do — encourage and celebrate each other’s success and progress. Writing success is not a limited sized pie; there’s plenty to go around.

Dreams Have No Limits

My first interaction with a critique group came from someone who gave me the run-down on how the group was organized. It went like this: “We, who lead the group, will inform you when we think your work is ready to move forward to publication.”

I was taken aback. This was not a published author, teacher, editor, agent, or in any way an individual who had a track record of getting new authors published, or had an actual job doing same.  He was also the only ‘group leader’ of this MeetUp group. Additionally, I have no idea if he meant “we” in the royal sense or if he truly had another collaborator. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good first impression. Point from this? Don’t let one person define you or your writing style. Your dreams have no limits and nobody should try to weigh them down.

After a lovely sojourn in the forest to clear my head, I was left with peace and the overwhelming desire to help, not hinder, fellow authors. I hope this post does just that.

Let’s celebrate each other! (Insert fist pump and happy dance here). Write on, read on, my friends!


The Power of a Writer’s Community

One of the first, surprising things I realized when I began to write was how isolating and lonely it can be. I loved living in the world I was creating. Imagining my characters’ emotions made me feel alive. However, I discovered that the creative process of writing required, perhaps even demanded, a degree of isolation. I needed the power of a writer’s community.

Honor Your Muse

The isolation is necessary to let you find your voice, develop it, and honor your muse. This is how creativity begins. I don’t mean to imply that you must crawl into a hole and disappear. Frankly, creativity is always sparked by like creativity. While writing, I read extensively in genres similar to mine. I dove into thrillers of all flavors, mysteries, biographies, even non-fiction, paranormal, and romance.

I read for fun as well as my own education. While reading, I analyze how other authors create their settings. I derive information from non-fiction books and articles, even conversations and interviews with authorities on my subject. I’m curious to see how other writers accomplish their goals while entertaining their readers.

The Power of a Writer’s Community

I learned that developing a community of writer-friends was just as vital. It was important to converse with people who understood firsthand the process of becoming a better writer, and the challenges of writing. Through conferences and small writing groups, I developed a community of like-minded writers to laugh with, commiserate with, learn from, and support them as they supported me.

My writer’s community also bonded on a curiously common finding. Many of our friends, family, and co-workers outside of our writing circle were sometimes less than positive about the idea of writing a book. Go figure? I heard every negative argument in the book. You will never succeed. You will never get published. You will never make money.

But instead of taking their criticism to heart, I filed it in the category of “Your opinion…everyone has one” and forged on.

I’m pretty sure that every writer, visionary, inventor and revolutionary thinker has heard these arguments. I am just as sure that those visionaries also had the determination to continue pursuing their dreams. They (writers, inventors, tech geniuses) continued to push forward and follow their dreams and Muse. They had that passion and willingness to put in the hard work to create their dreams. I say ONWARD! And, it also helps to have the encouragement and support from some like minded dreamers and friends.

Find your community and tribe, and move forward!