How to Heal Your Bruised Writer’s Ego and Keep Writing

He told me it needed work. So I did the mature thing — I decided to quit writing.

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

I spent the whole weekend writing, coming out of it with a short story that felt like the best thing I’d ever written. It had tension, a touch of humor, and enough emotion that I cried as I wrote the end. I pored over that piece, tweaking and polishing it until it read like perfection.

“I’m done!” I bragged to my husband, and he asked to read it, just as I hoped he would. Then I stayed out of his way so he could fully absorb the story and I wouldn’t get in the way of the emotional finish. I imagined when he came back, he’d have tears in his eyes and want to discuss the troubled main character and the hard role of her father, and this very big thing the two of them were struggling through separately. But when he sat in front of me, the story in his hands, his eyes were dry, his face grim.

“It’s a first draft,” he said, then let me know how strong the bones of the story were, but that it needed more work before it was done. My ego flared brighter with each mark on the story. I mean, I’ve been a writer all my life, and an avid reader. I knew what I was doing, dammit.

So I did the mature thing. I spoke to him in short answers. I decided to quit writing. I went to bed with arguments rolling through my mind. In the morning, I remembered the night before and went through all the emotions again.

Then, when I stopped sulking, I opened my laptop and started editing, eventually seeing the marks as fixable blind spots instead of attacks on my writing ability.

It’s hard to accept criticism. My sensitive fragile princessy ego has a hard time with it. But it is a rare occasion to reach perfect on the first try.

Have you received feedback that made you feel inadequate, or even less passionate about your passion project?

♣️ First off, always consider the source of the feedback. Is this someone offering tips to help you grow? Or is it someone tearing you down?

♣️ Second, brush your ego aside and search for the truth in the critique. Is there something in that critique that can help you improve?

♣️ Third, do not base your worth on any critique of your work. You are not a failed writer if someone doesn’t love your writing. You are not worthless if you get a bad review. If your first pass at a piece of writing isn’t final draft material, you should not throw in the towel.

Just keep writing, and your words will shine like diamonds.

POST NOTE:

The past few years have been a roller coaster of emotions and varying confidence levels when it comes to my writing, and the highs and lows of the writer’s life have often made me question my sanity. There were times I wished I had a writer’s therapist, one who fully understood how crazy this writing dream sometimes felt. I longed for that sympathetic ear who would listen to all my laments, make soothing noises, and then tell me, “Oh sweet child, you sure are having a hard time. Don’t you know how precious you are? Don’t you know how special your gift is? Let’s take a look at what you’ve done well, because I think you’ve forgotten.”

Over time, I’ve realized I’m not the only one who needs this. So, out of this need, I’ve created an Instagram account dedicated to the struggling writer with a mission to promote kindness, confidence, and accountability.

Want to join the journey? Find me at The Writers Therapist.

I’m all over the place, but I try to be honest in all of it. Find my books and musings at crissilangwell.com.

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