Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Validation

As an (as of yet) unagented, unpublished writer, I've given a lot of thought to the idea of validation. Sometimes, I don't feel I have the right to call myself a writer, and I rarely feel justified in prioritizing writing over, well, over anything really. So, a bit of validation can really make or break my confidence.

In Does Traditional Publishing Validate an Author?, Mike Duran argues that writer's shouldn't require professional validation to keep writing. I agree, but I also don't think it always makes sense to continue trying to find a path to publication in every case. Maybe a particular MS just isn't very good. In that case, I don't think the writer should stop writing for their own enjoyment, but it could be time to stop pursuing publication, right? There's always a time to trunk a novel. And writers need some level of external validation if they're going to pick themselves up again and try to get the next MS published. Jenny Hansen agrees.

It could be something as small as a glowing piece of feedback from a CP or Beta, a contest win or even a personalized rejection letter from an agent. But whatever it is, I need that form of external validation every now and then to be able to brush off the rejection and critique that pile up. And The Insecure Writers Support Group leads me to believe I'm not alone in my need.

What about you? Do you need external validation? Or are you a never-ending well of confidence (if you are, I'm totally jealous)?


8 comments:

  1. I totally need validation. If it wasn't for my husband's pep talk every few days, and occasional bits of encouragement when I beta-swap, I'd feel overwhelmed by guilt! I probably would still write, but if I did more than just a few hours a week, I'd feel guilty!

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    1. I'm the same - isn't that awful how guilt creeps in like that? I don't feel guilty about other hobbies, but somehow, writing can feel much more selfish than any other hobby.

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  2. Hm... I don't really understand where that guilt comes from. I might just be dull-witted on this one, but why feel guilty for doing something you like? Do you feel guilty about watching a movie? About going for a walk? About taking a long bath? How is writing any different?

    I don't mean to sound rude, and I'm really sorry if this comes across that way (I hope it doesn't), but you should stop wondering whether you have the right to do what you want to do, whether you're worthy to call yourself whatever you want to call yourself. Writer, author, artist, genius, person... You have all those rights by birth. Doubting them is a waste of energy. Go ahead and write. Don't think about it.

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    1. I guess the guilt comes from it being such a solitary venture - one which takes time away from my family and friends. And sometimes it can certainly feel selfish. Particularly when I set aside specific time for writing on a regular schedule and maybe decline other potential commitments to stick to my writing schedule. I don't feel guilty about doing things like watching a movie or going for a walk, but those are things I can do with my friends and family and are also things which I don't do everyday.

      If I was writing just for the joy of writing, without any hopes of getting published, then I think it would be different because setting hard goals, spending time critiquing and in writer's groups, setting my alarm in the middle of the night to enter a contest, etc. wouldn't be things I'd be so concerned about. So, I think it's more the pursuit of publication than the actual writing that can make me feel selfish and maybe sometimes a bit ridiculous/egotistical as well.

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  3. The day you proclaim yourself to be a writer is the day you are one. Doesn't make a damn if you ever get published. No validation is required to live your passion.

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    1. I should print that out and tape it to my desk ;)

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  4. I WISH I was a well of confidence, but I always think it feels good to know someone else loves your writing as much as you do. :)

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    1. me too :) It's so much more motivating that way!

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