Over the course of my career, between professional writing, a master’s thesis and writing for enjoyment, I’ve written near half a billion words. Unfortunately, I suck so I should give up now and save everyone some time.
That’s what a recent post said.
Writing is hard work. If it was easy, everyone would be a novelist. To write as much as I do I plan my day to allow me the time. My average day goes like this:
6:00am – The alarm rings and it’s time to wake up, get the children up (now that’s a chore by itself. My daughter is 7, my son is 3 and neither of them are morning people), get them fed and ready for school. Get myself ready for work.
7:30am – Get the kids into the car, drive them to school/daycare, then head to the office.
8:40am – Arrive at the office, get myself situated, review emails, prioritize my day’s work.
9:00am – Begin my normal work day. Deal with clients, federal and state governments, file documents, research cases, etc. I spend most of my work day putting out financial fires for other people and I’m good at. I’ve been in the financial industry for almost 20 years so I should be.
1:00pm – Lunch at my desk. I don’t stop working, but I have to eat. Then it’s back to client meetings, phone calls, etc.
5:00pm – Time to sign off, finish any last-minute items and get myself prepared for the next day. I usually end up spending another half hour at the desk, so I don’t leave work until around 5:30pm.
6:30pm – Arrive home. The commute takes me an hour because of evening traffic, but that’s okay. It gives me time to unwind and, since there’re no children in the car, I get to listen to my music. I’m telling you, there’s a special torture designed for whoever put Barney and Teletubbies on CD. Once home, I work on dinner, help my daughter with her homework and spend time with my son. Then showers/baths, PJ’s and a story before bed. With any luck, they’re down by 8:30, though it’s generally closer to 9:00pm.
9:00pm – Chores around the house for an hour. Everything from unloading the dishwasher to laundry. My wife and I try to keep on top of things during the week.
10:00pm – Writing time. During the week this time is sacrosanct. I go into my office, turn off the internet and just write. I get 1,600 to 2,000 edited words done. I also do the same on weekend, though I may start closer to 9:00pm than 10:00pm, and I do this EVERY day, no vacations, no holidays. This means during a year I write and edit somewhere between 580,000 and 730,000 words. This counts none of the professional writing I do at my day job.
1:00am – Finally time for me to sleep, only to repeat the process the next day.
Between my work commitments, family obligations and everything else, my day is already full. Add writing and, well, you get the picture. So, I am rather proud of the writing I do and want to share it.
Where is this all leading, you ask? Glad you asked.
Because I’m proud of the work I do, I post in different forums. It gives me a lot of feedback which helps me improve it. I read each posted comment and decide if it will help add to the story or not. Most comments are something like, “Thanks for the chapter,” or “I like what the MC did.” Sometimes I get critical reviews. Those I take seriously because, if the poster took the time to read and respond, they must’ve felt strongly about it.
Then there was this post. You suck and so does your writing. I’m paraphrasing, but this is how I read it.
The internet is a great place for sharing ideas, thoughts and expression. Because of the anonymity behind it, we rarely hold back, either from fear of embarrassment or because we want to spare someone’s feelings. We can post our comment and never visit the site again if that’s what we wish. Thus, the rise of internet trolls (like this poster).
Apparently, he’s been a member of the board I post on since 2016. He’s never contributed a single story, nor has he added to the board in any meaningful way I can find. A little more digging and I could read every post he’s made (since it is an open forum, all the info is right there). EVERY SINGLE POST was negative. Not negative constructive. Just plain negative. Sometimes, they were so bad I felt sorry for the writer.
Look, writing is a tough gig and as writers, we must develop a thick skin. It’s scary to put our work out there for public scrutiny. We want everything we write to be well received, but we know that it won’t be. That doesn’t negative comments don’t hurt, because they do. It’s a visceral pain that can stop us from the writing we love.
So, I have advice for you if you’re a writer. Write what you want. Post it where you want. Read the reviews and bask in the glory of the great ones. For critical ones, study them, see if there is anything learn. Maybe your writing will get better. Maybe not.
And for negative comments try to remember two things.
- People like this person (I use the term loosely) are not your target audience. You’re not writing to cater to their desires. You’re writing for yourself and those who like what you do. Stephen King, J. R. R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, and even J. K. Rowling have detractors, people who just hate their work. Those authors are not writing to please readers who hate them. They’re writing to please people who don’t.
- I’ve learned people who spew the worst vitriol are frustrated and jealous. Jealous of your skill, talent, ability and everything else. They hate themselves and want to take it out on you. And until they can do what you do, and do it better, their opinion of your work is worth less than a mouse fart in a sandstorm. Forget them, move on and let them live their miserable lives. You have a happy one to look forward to.
So yeah, to a troll, my writing sucks and so do I. But to everyone else, all the people who like and encourage my work, I’m a gem. It’s for them I write.
For the trolls, I say go write what you like. Who knows, I may enjoy it and give you five stars. Or not.