To the New Writer

To the New Writer

I want to share a secret with you:

At some point on your writing journey, you are going to receive dreadful feedback, and this is going to hurt.

Let me tell you now. This is not something that any of us can avoid as writers. It is simply:

“A shit thing that we all end up experiencing.”

And it is 100% okay to feel hurt. Yes, to feel it. (Don’t reject it.)

You might even want to lash out.

But we cannot prevent people from saying hurtful things. We can only change how we respond.

This is how you’re going to deal with it:

You’re going to "Own it like a boss".

Ignore the comments you disagree with, like water off a duck's back.

If you need to get it off your chest, complain in private to a person you trust and who has your back.

If self-care means stepping away for a couple of days to lessen the sting, you’re going to do just that.

At all costs, you will not let it stop you from writing. Your work matters more than some lame comments.

Recognise the tidal wave that is called “feedback”.

They don’t know what triggers us, only we do.

If a certain kind of feedback consistently makes us feel uncomfortable, perhaps it is worth looking at.

It feels like they are the judge of your writing, but are they really more of an ‘expert’ than you?

If the feedback is about a deeply held belief, consider that when our beliefs are challenged we feel threatened. The best kind of feedback challenges our beliefs.

For whatever reason, there are certain people that just rub us up the wrong way, to whom we respond by turning the other cheek.

This is the mindset you’re going to adopt instead:

Say to yourself, “I believe that people are inherently good.”

Simply believe that everybody is trying their best to be helpful, like you are.

Simply believe that people have the capacity to grow from mistakes, like you will.

If we do not give grace, we cannot accept grace. (Repeat.)

This is what you’re going to do next:

You’re going to take the time to get to know people. Step into relationships and build a support network.

Ask for help and accept help. Do not be a lone writer.  Allow yourself to be cared for.

Oftentimes the kind thing to do is to say the hard thing. Consider the possibility of responding to the dole-r of dreadful feedback, at your own discretion.

You are going to return the gift of care without hesitation or change of heart.

All of this takes bravery. The result is an expansion of kindness and empathy.

This is paying it forward:

Good things will come your way.


Thank you to the writers in the Foster community for helping edit this piece. A special thank you to my colleague and friend Rajat Mittal for generously sharing his writing wisdom and heartfelt encouragement.