Inside the minds of writers I think the same questions must rotate on a regular basis.
- Am I good at writing?
- Am I good enough to win a writing competition?
- Am I good enough to write a book?
- Do I have what it takes to write a decent book?
- Do I have what it takes to sell books?
- Are my stories good enough to self publish?
- Are my stories good enough to attract an agent or publisher?
- Am I capable of acquiring good reviews?
Some writers decide not to waste their time answering the questions and some writers spend too much time trying to answer the questions in their head. *Raises hand*
The writers in the latter camp, rush out into the world, searching high and low for some form of external validation, to help answer the questions.
It doesn’t matter how big your ‘to-do’ list is either, because when your mind asks you, ‘today, Lucy, do you think you are good enough to write a book?’ you have to drop everything and go validate.
The search for external validation will take several forms; submitting work to agents, trawling the comments from beta readers and reviewers, entering a multitude of writer competitions, staying close to all forms of social media and studying the faces of friends or loved ones, when they kindly offer to read their work.
Invariably you struggle to find any form of external validation.
No one can answer the question of whether you are a good writer. All your beta readers had differing views on your latest draft, so the chances on everyone agreeing on whether you are a ‘good writer’ feels slim.
No one can say whether you are capable of selling books.
No one can give you a solid guarantee on whether your books will attract the attention of an agent.
In some cases the writer will get a little anxious when they are not able to get approval, because that what external validation is, on their writing.
There are some writers, who find the agent, the publisher and the book deal. They are lucky enough to find the external validation they wanted.
However, I think the quest for external validation doesn’t stop there. If you read interviews and listen to their podcasts you will hear them trying to validate themselves through sales, reviews and social media activity.
Some of these successful authors STILL want an answer to their question – are you a good writer?
The search for external validation never stops.
After years of searching for external validation, I am starting to wonder whether searching for the answers to the questions, is simply ANOTHER distraction.
We might never find the external validation we are searching for and even when we do, it still fails to answer the question.
So I am taking action and issuing a memo:
To: all writers:
Can we all ignore the questions in our heads?
Searching for external validation is pointless.
Action: Believe in your own work.