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In the pause: How writers can deal with naysayers

“The world is full of people who say it can’t be done. If everyone listened to them, we’d still live in caves—and there would be no such thing as books.” ~Dean Koontz #NaNoPepTalk

I’d like to talk to you about naysayers. Some are valuable. When I was deciding to go to grad school and expressed my desire to work part-time and go to school part-time, a friend of mine told me exactly why that was a terrible idea. (He had gone part-time and deeply regretted it.) He was right. It was a far better idea for me to go to grad school full-time. After I got my MBA and a good job, and decided I want to work on my writing on the side, that same friend said I was wasting my time and that I should really focus on important things like climbing the corporate ladder and finding a husband. (He never climbed the corporate ladder, he’s not a writer, and his spouse is less than a good match.) That time he was wrong.

To find out if naysayers are worth listening to, I consider the feedback as if a friend was telling me my own story. That objectivity helps me sort the BS from the gold. Also, consider the perspective of the naysayer. Are they offering you advice from experience, or are they just stating their opinion as fact? I’m glad my friend gave me solid, informed reasons to go to grad school full-time. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m glad I ignored his opinion about my writing and how to spend my time. If I had listened to him, I wouldn’t have the writing career I have today.

Ultimately, the one who lives with the consequences of your choices is you. What matters most is your opinion of your own life.

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