Don’t Read Another Review Until You Read This! via @BadRedheadMedia

By Rachel Thompson | Author Marketing

Jul 26

Trusting Your Vision Implicitly Makes Your Work Better

Courtesy of Getty Images

 

My last post, ‘Bad Reviews Suck. Why I Don’t Care,” here on BadRedheadMedia.com seemed to have hit a nerve. The comments have been involving and brought up some amazing points. I encourage you to take a moment to read it here (and the San Francisco and Sacramento Book Review –yay – picked it up, where the comments got quite heated. Worth a visit.)

 

Jumping off from there, I’d like to cover something different but related today: trusting your own vision.

 

Here are two examples of trusting our vision…I’d love to hear your own.

 

1)   When I was part of a large crit group (of published and unpublished writers) recently, I received some varied feedback on the nonfiction work I am currently writing (FYI it’s my next book, titled Broken Pieces. The work is not humor like my previous books; it covers fear, desire, love, loss, and trust. I plan to release it in October.)

 

One of the members said that nobody would ever want to read ‘such depressing stuff’ and I should abandon my work, as it’s ‘not fit for publication.’ Being that he’s fairly successful, I took a second, third, fourth and fifth look at it. I even asked several other writers and editors for their opinion, and spoke with a Hollywood script doctor I know for feedback .

 

They all disagreed with him. Each one individually praised my work; the script doctor going so far as to say she wishes she could tap deep into her soul without fear and write this type of honest work.

 

Of course, I felt flattered and grilled them for what they didn’t like; but it also made me wonder: is anyone ever right? Is there a right and wrong when it comes to creating art?

 

It would be easy to say that guy was a jerk and the others amazingly astute, but I didn’t do either.

 

 

The argument right now is that self-published authors are releasing horrible crap into the poor, helpless creatures of the reading world. That we don’t know what we don’t know. That being turned down and rejected makes us better writers. That waiting years to be vetted by the traditional industry is still the only way to sell books.

 

Everyone has something to say. Here’s my point: trust yourself. You created a vision for your work. Stick with it. Do the best you can at all times. Give yourself permission to write/create without anyone else’s voice buzzing in your ear.

 

It took me awhile to get to this point. I’ve received some cruel, vitriolic reader reviews on both my books. And that’s okay. I still keep writing.

 

(For the record, I work very closely with a professional editor, proofreader, graphic artist and formatter on each book. I want to be sure what I put out there is quality so when the criticism comes, it’s not about mistakes; just that people think my writing sucks.)

 

As I said in my last post, not everyone will like my work. I take some satisfaction that professional reviewers like my books, and agents have contacted me since the release of both books wanting to work with me; but the fact is, I wrote my books without that feedback.

 

Point is, I haven’t let the positive or negative feedback affect my work. I just keep doing what I’m doing because it’s what I believe in.

 

Ultimately, trusting your own vision brings your work to light.

 

2)   I have guest writers on my author blog, RachelintheOC.com every two weeks and I ask them to share an experience that shaped their lives. Many are hesitant to share at that level of honesty; others embrace the opportunity since they would never write that way on their own blogs/books. Some have revealed experiences they’d never spoken out loud before.

 

One friend thanked me for ‘giving her the permission’ she needed to write about a very serious topic. Her family knew nothing of it and it’s the first time she’d ever admitted to having been abused in her past. She’s now built up the courage to abandon her original book idea and write about her experiences instead.

 

This, above all, is why I’m honored: they could write about it all along. But giving them the forum to be honest with their vision allows them to write in a raw, honest way. I’m awed by their stories.

 

I often repeat my favorite writing quote from author Lorrie Moore: Write something you’d never show your mother or father. Many people cannot do that. It’s challenging to write this way. To not worry about what others will think or say – especially your own family.

 

But…it’s also incredibly freeing. We’re all grownups.

 

Me: I write about sex in my books. I have two kids. The jig is up.

 

My dad: How do you think you got here in the first place?

 

 

What are your thoughts on writing honestly and following your own vision? Please share your own experiences below.

If you haven’t yet purchased either of my bestelling books, I hope you will check them out: A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month – created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed.

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs,  #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Leave a Comment:

(23) comments

I’ve recently had to re-evaluate several things. There are a lot of people that I trust and I do ask their opinions–but in the end, I am the one that has to live with my decisions so I have to go with my gut. The hardest part is, I’ve done this before and I’ve been wrong. But, a few times I’ve been right. Thanks, Rachel.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson July 27, 2012

    I get that, Kelly. I did the same thing at the beginning of this year. Sometimes the voices that are trying to be helpful are great — but as you say, in the end we have to live with our decisions.

    Good on ya, babe.

    Reply
Ciara Ballintyne July 27, 2012

I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘That being turned down and rejected makes us better writers. That waiting years to be vetted by the traditional industry is still the only way to sell books.’. It’s more that it weeds out the people who aren’t prepared to do what it takes and put in the hard yards – the hobbyists as it were, the ones who aren’t interested in studying and improving their craft.

There are other ways to achieve the same outcome – crit groups, beta readers, editors etc. – and then self-publish. The danger is only that self-publishing doesn’t force that outcome. People can write something, never take a single writing class, workshop, or even class on grammar, never show it to anyone, and then publish it. As a first draft. Don’t even get me started on the ones who think editors are the spawn of all evil and a waste of money.

Plenty of indie writers are doing the hard yards. It’s just plenty also aren’t (or think they can cut corners).

That said, crit groups, beta readers and editors are not to be listened to wholesale. If it’s a technical writing issue, their opinion should be weighed carefully, but if it’s just ‘I don’t like this’ – well there is no such thing as a piece of art that makes everyone happy. Nothing can appeal to everyone. And a writer has to trust their vision when it comes down to that, recognise when someone is not part of their target audience, and then disregard than feedback.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson July 27, 2012

    Good advice, Ciara.

    We can agree to disagree on self-publishing to a certain extent but, I wholeheartedly agree that one cannot simply publish a first draft. The editing process is difficult, challenging, but amazing. The first time I worked with my editor (on A Walk In The Snark), she saw things I hadn’t even thought of. I can’t recommend highly enough working with a professional editor.

    Same with graphics. I draw stick people. I would never presume to create a book cover — I know my limitations!

    And really, that’s what it comes down to. Knowing what we don’t know, so then we know. (I feel like I’m in a ‘Friends’ episode.)

    Reply

I don’t read reviews and I don’t worry about rejection. I accept that while some people will love what I write, some people will hate it or feel neutral about it or perhaps even find it offensive.
Writing is a piece of art. Art is subjective. People project themselves onto your art. Your creation is ambiguous and therein lies the beauty – readers can decided for themselves what they think of your work.
Of course some readers are easily influenced by peer pressure – but you aren’t writing for those readers.
The truth is you can’t please all the people all the time so you’d better please yourself.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson July 27, 2012

    Great perspective, Julia. I fully agree with you on art being subjective. And what’s funny is, most people GET that. But when it comes to books, it’s kind of interesting how people feel free to trash books so freely. Sad, really.

    But sticking to our truths wins out, in my opinion.

    Thanks for your great commentary!

    Reply
eden baylee July 27, 2012

Writing honestly is the only way I know how. I’ve given up a long time ago pleasing others because what it meant was I put others ahead of me – not good – not for anyone.

It’s not to sound arrogant, but as an adult, I need to take care of me, and that’s not an easy thing to say. We are always looking for validation from others that we’re on the right path. Sooner or later, we all need to be responsible for what we want to do. That means not blaming anyone if we fail, but also taking the credit when we succeed.

eden

Reply
    Rachel Thompson July 27, 2012

    Not arrogant at all. At some point, we have to do what we feel is right for us, not anyone else.

    A friend recently read a piece I wrote (for my new book), and he said, “it sounds like you’re writing for your readers. Not from your gut. And that’s what makes you such a great writer.” And he was right. I had to redo that one.

    I definitely appreciate feedback on my work — it’s when it’s done in a negative, trashy way that I ignore completely.

    xo

    Reply
Sessha Batto July 27, 2012

If I worried about wide-scale appeal I would never write at all! seriously, though, I know my work is on the edge and I want it that way. I even warn people it isn’t for everyone, topic wise. So when someone doesn’t like it I am not hurt, I’d be more worried if everyone did, then I wouldn’t be doing it right!

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    Rachel Thompson July 27, 2012

    Right on target, Sessha. I love your perspective.

    Reaching inside and being vulnerable is what makes us good writers in the first place. Shielding that vulnerability is also important.

    xo

    Reply
Keith Addison July 27, 2012

I think there can be common connections that everyone shares in their life and it doesn’t matter what you write there will be someone somewhere who likes or identifies with your writing. I am a big believer in writing from my heart and soul and I have been fortunate so far with my blog to receive some very nice feedback.
I tend to take both good and bad feedback with a pinch of salty cynicism as I think some people are too nice to offend and pay lip service. On the other hand you have those who will just slate your writing with no constructive comments and they need to be dealt with in the same manner. Th truth always lies somewhere in the middle.
Ultimately, if you write for yourself then you will know whether it is good or not.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson July 27, 2012

    Absolutely, Keith. I enjoy some of the negative comments, to be honest. They’re very funny and silly. Having humor is important no matter what you write.

    ‘Salty cynicism’ is a wonderful term. I’m totally stealing that. 🙂

    xo

    Reply
Katheryn Wallis July 27, 2012

I think it’s a good idea to have your completed manuscript critiqued, and you should seriously consider the feedback you get then, especially if you get similar feedback from multiple readers.

But I’ve learned not to follow – or solicit – advice at the story-planning stage. The reason for this is that there is a huge difference between outlining a story idea, and executing it. If you tell someone your story idea, they might say it sounds totally implausible, or stupid, or just like some other book they’d read. And they might be right… then. But what neither they nor you yet know is how your story is going to be executed. And if you do it right, you’ll make it work, you’ll make it smart, and you’ll make it unique.

This may sound totally obvious to writers with more experience than me – how can anyone properly critique your manuscript until it’s actually written? – but it took me a while to realize that a lot of problems get solved in the execution, so you shouldn’t worry about – or bother other people with – those problems, until and unless they remain in the completed manuscript.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson July 27, 2012

    I agree w/ you fully, Katherine. Having crit partners or other writers you trust (or in my case, an amazing editor) is critical to insuring your success. I would never be so arrogant as to assume I’m wonderful, great, and need to guidance from others.

    And I fully agree about letting the process work for you. Execution is the writing; editing is the perfecting. Both processes always amazes me.

    xo

    Reply
Justin Bog July 27, 2012

Excellent points, Rachel, and your work is impressive. Just keep writing is a mantra of mine. No one else can do it for me, not even a ghost; it still wouldn’t sound like me. I have read all the comments and dig what each author/writer says about the writing process, how to take negative and positive criticism before and after publication. An opinion about a book, is just that, one opinion, for good or bad. I read both types of comments, and usually, what is being said is more about the writer of the comment, the bias, either way, than about the work, and the merit of the work.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson July 27, 2012

    I heart you, JBo.

    Just keep writing — so critical for any writer. Move away from the crazy and negative, as you say.

    How’d you get so smart.

    xoxo

    Reply
Jaime Smith July 27, 2012

I agree with your lorrie moore quote and that’s the kind of material that’s going in my own memoir. I have read some pretty shitty self-published books recently, but have also recently read amazing work (Mancode Exposed, not blowing smoke up your ass, et al).
I think, as a fellow writer, you do, although it sounds “cheesey,” need to look inside yourself and ask your own heart and head. You never know if what you’re writing can help or heal or make laugh ONE OTHER PERSON. If I do that, my goal is achieved.

Jaime Smith

PS. I left my personal website in the link area above, which I never do, because, until recently, I was too afraid to associate the depressing poetry on there with my persona… check out the poems section… the other stuff is just random and REALLY old.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson July 27, 2012

    Thank for visiting, Jaime and for your sweet comment about my book. #hugs

    It does take nerve to show our vulnerable side. Part of being a writer is being brave enough to share our work. I encourage you to keep posting it, get feedback, and even join a crit group in a similar genre. I find that people who write similarly have a better feel for what you’re striving for.

    Please come back anytime and thanks for sharing your site.

    P.S. I switched from Blogger to WordPress.org and LUV it. It just takes some getting used to.

    Reply
Toby Neal July 27, 2012

Another good one Rachel. Trust your gut…AND get good editing. That’s a winning combo.
Aloha
Toby Neal

Reply
Louise Sorensen July 27, 2012

I don’t like everything I read in trad pub or indie published books. Why would I think Everyone is going to love all of my work?
Sometimes I don’t know whether a story works or not, but there r no readers here but me, so I put them(my short stories) out there (wordpress)before they even go to the writing group.
When I self pub, I’ll get it ready for the prom properly. With all the billions of people on this earth, someone is apt to like it. Someone dislike it too, but you can’t please everybody.
Sometimes you just have to please yourself. #GardenParty

Reply
    Rachel Thompson July 28, 2012

    Isn’t that the beauty of having an author platform? Free market research!

    I do the same, Louise. I often post stories and essays here for feedback and then pull them when I publish (since I’m KDPSelect and therefore exclusive). People are generally nice about feedback (which can be good OR bad) but I do find it’s a great way to get betareaders. People are so giving and helpful — it’s the very few who are truly mean, IMHO. And if they are, meh.

    Reply

[…] Trusting Your Vision Implicitly Makes Your Work Better var dd_offset_from_content = 40; var dd_top_offset_from_content = 0;Rachel ThompsonRachel Thompson aka RachelintheOC is a published author and social media consultant. Her two books, A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed are both #1 Kindle bestsellers! When not writing, she helps authors and other professionals with branding and social media for her company, BadRedhead Media. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. Buy Now : A Walk in the Snark * Mancode: ExposedMore Posts Follow Me: […]

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