Thick Skin 101
In Part II, I mentioned getting a thick skin. Let’s talk a moment about what having a thick skin involves for bloggers and writers.
I write newsletters for a client that reaches 300,000+ readers. I go months without hearing a single nasty remark about my articles, but it wasn’t always that way. I’ve had to take a few licks. Undoubtedly, in the future, if I continue to write for such large audiences, I will take thousands more.
Admit mistakes and fix them.
When I began writing professionally, I had grammar weaknesses; a couple of them are mentioned in Part II. A reader wrote my client and gave him a scathing earful about the “crap” I was writing. Fortunately, my content was excellent, but it needed polishing. I didn’t quit. I was making money with my writing, so I cut back on buying the cute glasses and designer handbags that my new writing career afforded me, and I invested some of that money in my future. I hired a knowledgeable proofreader who would slap my hands and tell me what was wrong with my punctuation and grammar.
This happened before Grammarly.com was online and available for me to use. I still need my proofreader, but now I run articles through Grammarly before I hand it over to my proofreader. When I get the proofed articles back from her, I run them through Grammarly once again — even my editor makes errors!
Don’t take it personally.
Be glad that someone is reading what you write! That’s huge. If you have readers, that’s a great accomplishment!
Also, know that there are people in this world who aren’t doing stuff. They are focused on criticizing stuff that other people do. Unfortunately, even those people may have something worthwhile to tell you, and they may be 100% accurate.
Don’t argue with your critic.
When you are assaulted by a critic (because you WILL be assaulted if you write), don’t argue. Thank that person for taking time to read your work and say you appreciate the feedback. Make a friend. Tell the critic that you can tell that he or she is a great editor, that the critic should probably be a writer, too! Say that you might want to send him or her an occasional article to read for feedback. Critics love being experts. Stroke the critic’s ego. Never argue. Make a friend. 99% of the time, that critic will never give you another minute of trouble.
When you get slapped down, get back up.
Accept it–if you write, you’re going to be criticized. If you are going to be successful, you’ll need to get rid of your sensitive feelings and put on your big gal (or guy) pants. If you find yourself stinging from harsh criticism, you will probably be unmotivated to write again.
Do not give in. Take the covers off of your head, get out of the bed, and tell yourself that you’ll just write one paragraph. Acknowledge that you don’t have to write like Hemingway, you just need to put a noun in front of a verb, and then you’ll fill in with adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and so forth, until you have a few good sentences.
Make yourself write just one sentence. (Yes, you will need to MAKE yourself do this. It’s a huge bummer to be told your writing sucks.) Run it through Grammarly and write another one. Do that until you have four sentences cobbled together to make a full, comprehensive paragraph. Start the process over again until you have compiled an article or blog entry.
Writing isn’t glamorous work.
It’s not all about pouring your heart onto a page and hearing readers emote about how fantastic your words are. It takes time and effort to polish up your presentation. When you’re learning how to get paid to write, keep in mind that you’re first paid work will probably be plain ‘ol text like this. It doesn’t have to be beautiful, but it must be comprehensive.
Things to do while you are licking your wounds:
Sometimes it is hard to come back from having your ego knocked into the sewer. I can’t tell you enough how important that it is to sit down at that keyboard and write something else. You might even write a funny article about making errors and getting called out on them.
In the meantime, sign up for Daphne Gray-Grant’s emailed newsletter. I have been reading her wonderfully succinct articles on writing for years. Visit her website at PublicationCoach.com. She’s awesome. You won’t regret it.
I think there will be a Part IV (and, a Part V…Part X…Part XXX). If this series continues, I will link the articles. You can find all of my articles on writing here.
Every article should have a purpose. The purpose of this one is to encourage you to write. I didn’t become a writer until I was close to 50. I started getting paid well to write after I was 50. I don’t care if you’re 15 or 105! If you want to write, set up a blog and get after it.