Negativity And The Writing World

If you’ve watched the online writer communities, you might have noticed a trend in the last year. I don’t mean author branding or indie publishing, even though they had quite a part. I’m talking about the negativity that spread out like a plague all over healthy writer platforms, forums and blogs.

Something like…

Publishing isn’t what it used to be.
Printed books will die.
Self-publishing is only a desperate cry for attention.
Prices for e-books will keep dropping until self-pubbers will starve to death.
E-books will ruin our culture.
I’ll never get an agent if I’m unpublished, and I can’t publish without an agent.
The bestseller lists have lost their credibility, so there’s no point in trying to make them.
Unskilled writers have repeatedly gone superstars, so there’s no point in trying to improve myself.
Beta-readers only try to put me down.
Online feedback is trolling, I’ll never find a helpful community.
I can’t be a writer, proof-reader, editor, publisher, marketer, blogger and social media expert at the same time, it’s impossible!
Writing is too much hard work, I’ll never finish anything worthwile.
The world is so negative, it’s preventing me from succeeding.

And of course, the cause of it all,

I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.

Does that sound familiar? Has it gotten to you too?

Since writing isn’t exactly a walk in the park and takes personal commitment, writers easily slip into pessimism as they try to avoid disillusionment. But pessimism isn’t “being prepared” for what’s out there, it’s being discouraged and devitalized on principle. And the worst part is, everybody got infected.

Pessimists are all-or-nothing thinkers. They’re always offended when the world isn’t perfect. They don’t accept the setbacks that will naturally occur in any endeavor, because they believe there shouldn’t be any in the first place, that everything should run smoothly for them. When pessimists don’t achieve or receive perfection, they readily claim “it’s hopeless” and that “nothing can be done”. They think that having to adjust to circumstances is detrimental to them, instead of seizing the opportunity to increase their chances for survival.

While optimists may have the same initial negative feelings about a setback, they keep thinking and trying until they figure a way out. Who do you believe gets more out of life, the guy who complains or the guy who works through it?

No myth is more damaging than that of a fixed personality. There are no optimistic or pessimistic personalities. There are only single, individual choices for optimistic or pessimistic thoughts. Don’t get the causality wrong — it’s not our personality that dictates our choices, it’s our choices that create our personality!

Whenever you’re faced with difficulties, don’t throw your hands up in the air and howl in despair. Keep thinking! The more you think about the situation, the more you’ll see the small opportunities—for your creativity to prove its worth, for your accumulated knowledge to find a practical application, for your freakin resume to increase in diversity—and the more small actions you take to untangle yourself, the more motivated you’ll become. An optimist keeps thinking and finds a solution. A pessimits quits thinking, and then just quits.

We think optimists are naive, and we constantly feed this prejudice with sarcasm, while foolishly believing pessimists are realistic. A pessimist will always tell you he sees reality as it is, and sneer at the optimist and his immaturity. Pessimits continually use their imagination to visualize worst case scenarios and talk themselves into inaction. Pessimism always leads to passivity.

Optimism is naturally expansive, it opens door after door to what’s possible, it motivates and energizes you. Optimism gets you going and keeps you on track. And the best part is, optimism is learnable! There are hundreds of books out there who teach you how to overcome self-defeatism and negativity, and most importantly, how to take charge of your own wellbeing. Especially as a writer, if you’re not confident in your own ability to overcome difficulty and create your own path, you’ll most certainly drive yourself into despair. Forget the “cruel reality” out there. Screw cynism and self-pity. Fuck negativity!

Learn to talk back to the negative voice in your head. Talk back to the voice telling you you’re unable to succeed, or that the world is impossible to conquer. Optimism is always more effective than pessimism. Choose to think your way out of problems. Use your imagination constructively, purposefully, and carry on!

 

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This blog post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, April 2012

23 Replies to “Negativity And The Writing World”

  1. Excellent post. I’ve met far too many writers who thrive on negativity. As a result, I’ve removed all such writers from my life, because they add NOTHING to my life. (I once belonged to a Facebook group that was filled with negativity and encouraged by its negative leader.) That leader, and a large majority of the people in that group, are no longer a part of my life. Life is so much better, at least for me, when I focus on people who are positive and who are not mean-spirited.

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    1. Thank you, Jolie! A negative environment has nothing beneficial about it, and though it takes a bit of effort to summon the will and courage and break free, it’s very rewarding to be rid of emotional and motivational parasites. Feels like a breath of fresh air, doesn’t it? 🙂

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  2. I quit a critique group because of all the negativity. I mean, if I write something and you tell me it sucks, tell me why it sucks and give me some help in making it not suck! But there’s negative people all over that just love to pour their poison into your ear so you too can wallow in their misery.

    12 years it took me to get my first publishing contract…will power baby!!!!

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    1. Hell yeah! 12 years and you didn’t give up, you kept going! Kudos to that, my friend! 🙂

      Critique groups often become criticism groups exactly because negativity is contagious. Passivity is like a disease, comes without notice, and unless you do something about it, it’s there to stay and it ruins your life.

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  3. Excellent post! I especially love “There are no optimistic or pessimistic personalities. There are only single, individual choices for optimistic or pessimistic thoughts.”

    I choose optimism! 🙂

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  4. There really does seem to be a lot of negativity floating around. In particular, it’s always struck me as strange how some people will form teams and act as though they need to wage war on “the other side.” Self-publishing versus traditional publishing! E-books versus printed books! Lit versus Genre! It’s all so fatiguing.

    We’d get so much more done if we all focused on positivity and realized that our little corner of the publishing world (wherever that may be) isn’t the be-all end-all. There’s room for everyone, and there’s multiple paths to success. No need to put anyone down or bemoan the perceived faults in the state of the industry and its various facets to validate your choices. Own your strategy! And for the love of Pete, put your energy there and wait to see what it does for you before putting down someone else’s decisions.

    Awesome post! 🙂

    J.W.

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    1. Thanks, J.W.! 🙂

      Perfectly true, there are as many paths to success as there are different writers and different books. Nothing is written in stone, there isn’t a secret formula, and bickering isn’t helping anyone. There was never strength in being divided, and separating writers into clans only makes it more difficult.

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  5. The fastest way to get me to leave a room is fill it with negative people and excuses. I don’t have time for it.

    I’ve been fortunate in several writing circles. People are supportive and honest about your work. I’m also grateful for the authors who share their writing experiences in blog posts, articles, etc. I’ve picked up GREAT info from reading blog posts on subjects ranging from querying to self-editing.

    By the way, Vero, have you ever read “Positivity” by Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.? I didn’t finish the book, but for the right reader, I can see where it would be interesting.

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    1. I haven’t read that book (yet). I’m no stranger to various techniques of applied psychology though, used to positively influence group dynamics. Knowing all the tiny ways in which things can go wrong, and how easy it really is to fix them, it pains me that much more to see such damn smart people such as writers bang their heads over irrelevant things.

      Thanks for the recommendation! 🙂

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  6. I agree with JW about the us versus them mentality some forums or groups have. It’s not, and should never be, self-published versus traditional. It shouldn’t be author versus author of any kind. But I also get tired of the attitude “they’re all against me, so that’s why I can never succeed.” Well why are you still hanging around? Stop. Quit. If you can’t succeed because everyone’s against you, then why are you bothering? The thing is, these people aren’t succeeding because they’re blaming other people rather than looking at themselves and their work.

    I could ramble all day about this, but I’ll spare you all the drama. 🙂 Great post, Veronica. Optimism is not only the way to make good things happen, it’s better for your sanity. Plus, people don’t tend to hate you when you can smile.

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    1. Blaming others is oh so tempting, and so self-destructive. When you place the blame on someone else, you implicitly place responsibility on him too and relinquish control of the situation. That’s not just a waste of energy, it’s highly damaging to you on the long run.

      Thanks for commenting, Renee. I know this is a matter that’s close to your heart. And your fist. 😉

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  7. You have a way of saying what I should have been thinking all along.

    The pessimist virus is one of the scariest parts of this already daunting market. Here’s to the courage to release the optimist bug.

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  8. Great post! I see some of this negativity and pessimism from writers who’ve “been at it” a long time without success. Sometimes they appear to be especially cruel to newer writers still excited by the possibility of achieving their writing dreams. IMO, their cruelness increases in proportion to the talent of the new writer.

    Jealous much? If they invested as much energy into improving their own craft, maybe they would find equal success – or at least satisfaction in their work.

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    1. Yup, disillusionment is a powerful fuel for cruelty and cynicism if it’s not channeled into self-improvement. Someone who’s been bitten by the pessimism bug (*wink, wink*) is either to be fled from, or helped against his will. I heard a good straitjacket and force-feeding with chocolate do wonders!

      Thanks for your comment, Cindy!

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  9. I’m so glad you posted this. I try to ignore the negativity that’s floating around out there, but it’s like smoke. It slides though the cracks and up your nose and down your throat, and suddenly you’re choking on it, Only in my case the choking takes the form of subtle, low level anxiety, doubt and fear. Reading your article makes me realize how much all that crap has been getting under my skin.

    “Optimism is naturally expansive, it opens door after door to what’s possible, it motivates and energizes you. Optimism gets you going and keeps you on track. And the best part is, optimism is learnable!”

    Yes! If negativity is an infection, optimism is the cure. I’m going to get me some of that! Back off, you negative voices! KA POW!

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    1. Negativity is a sneaky little gremlin, isn’t it? It took me a lot of effort to recognize just how insidious and treacherous it is, and banish it from my environment (virtual as well as physical). I never regretted it for a second.

      Cheers to kicking some negative ass! Where’s my battle ax?

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  10. I guess I must be lucky because I seem to have missed this huge cloud of negativity. Sure, I’ve seen a negative post or two in the Absolute Write forums or Scribophile threads, but the response from the overall writing community to these posts has also been amazing – there was one post in particular that I remember from AW where the writer had just basically given up writing and blamed it on all of the factors you mentioned in your post here rather than accepting the fact that his latest WiP really needed improvement. But, the writing community called him out on it and built him back up at the same time. And the guy got back on the writing horse. So, sure, there are negative people out there, but in general, the writing community has still got to be one of the most positive and support professional communities I’ve ever come across. Here’s to hoping it stays that way 😀

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    1. You’ve been lucky, A.K. but like you said, some writers got so demoralized by the whole conundrum they either gave up, or lost their confidence and stopped trying out new things for fear of failure. The writing community is indeed one of the most supportive professional communities, but one of the main differences compared to others is that it requires public exposure and some writers—despite their undoubted love for writing—can’t handle all the side-effects of that.

      Thank you very much for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

      Like

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