All artists have trouble with their egos. Maybe it’s because unlike other fields, our sense of self and our creation are personally intertwined in a beautiful, yet complicated relationship. We often get defensive when editors pick away at our prose. And when finally hitting send on that perfect piece we spent days on, we’ve never felt more vulnerable.
That’s why it hurts so much when we’re rejected. It’s not just an attack on our work, but it feels like an attack on our soul.
But allowing our egos to get wrapped up in our work isn’t just unrealistic and draining, it’s bad for business.
I asked my husband recently about what it is about artistic fields that can make even the strongest among us, neurotic, defensive and whiny.
He said simply, “It’s subjective work. If I’m doing something for my job, I’ll know if it’s right or wrong. For you, it’s a little more shady.”
That gray area can mean that no matter how many times you think you got it “right,” there’s someone with a red pen ready to mark up your work and say it’s, “wrong.” On one hand, that’s a good thing. Being a writer, forces you to continuously work on improving and getting better. On the other hand, if you’re a perfectionist, you might have to be like me and learn how to take the criticisms as they come. You need to realize it’s never a personal thing. It’s your job.
So when you feel under attack, try the following to get back on track:
- Take a breather. Step away from your computer. Go for a walk. Talk to a friend. Watch mindless TV. Distract yourself so you don’t get more absorbed into your own little drama.
- Work on something else. Maybe you’re too focused on this project and your brain needs time to settle on something else. Switching gears can give you insight into what you could do to improve the situation.
- Get another perspective. It’s easy to read into things when you’re tired, too invested in a project or just sensitive. Asking someone you trust for their opinion, could help you to see that what you thought was an attack is really nothing personal at all.
- Look at the big picture. In the almost 7 years I have been writing professionally, there have been many clients who seemed to like my work and then disappeared. I wish those clients had been honest with me about how I was doing. If you can look for the opportunity in what seems like an obstacle, you can only improve as a writer.
What about you?
What helped you overcome your own insecurities as a writer? Were you bold enough to confront an editor or did you try the above four to help heal your open wounds and soothe your ego?