Disconnect Your Writing From Your Self Image

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The problem with a long string of successes is that, when that one inevitable flop arrives, you’re caught completely off-guard. This happened to me last year. Article after article kept getting published in awesome publications, and I got used to having editors accept my work.

Until one editor didn’t.

I submitted my article for their publication, and after a few days, I was told that the article wasn’t very original and they’d have to pass on it. Here’s the thing: they were totally right. I knew what they meant and where I could improve.

The prblem was, I hadn’t prepared myself for a rejection. So instead of taking it on the chin and moving forward, I let the editor’s comment determine how I viewed myself as a writer. Suddenly, I believed I was the worst writer on Earth. My words sucked and there was no point in writing because no one was going to like my content anyway. I was probably the worst writer on the platform and I should hang my head in shame and leave the internet forever.

Clearly, that leap from “I can do better” to “I’m the worst ever” was extreme. But at that moment, I was so sensitive to other people’s opinions of my content, that I started linking my work with my self-worth.

This can happen to a lot of writers, especially ones who are just starting out on platforms such as Medium. If you forget to put a healthy distance between how you see your work and how you see yourself, you might find yourself taking feedback personally. Fortunately, I was able to get out of that mindset and create that healthy distance with the help of a few reminders.

These are the things I constantly remind myself whenever one of my articles gets rejected or totally flops.

1. It’s not personal

I’ve been a writer and I’ve been an editor. I know what the sting of getting an article rejected feels like, and I know what it’s like to reject someone else’s work. So please trust me when I say this… it’s not personal.

As the editor of a blog network, I looked at hundreds of articles a week, making decision after decision on what content would get published and what content would get sent back. Rejecting articles was anything but fun, but it was a necessary part of the process. I had to keep the reader in mind and ensure that only the best content would reach them. If an article didn’t match the quality standards of the blog, it would get sent back.

Again, nothing personal.

Try to keep this in mind as you submit articles and get feedback. Editors have a job to do. They’re not out to get you, nor do they judge the quality of your character when they read your work. If your work, for whatever reason, is not a good fit at the moment, remember that your value as a person and as a writer is still intact.

2. You are not for everyone… and that’s okay

Personally, I try to be very careful about expressing my dislike for something. Nothing grinds my gears more than a definitive statement on the quality of something. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it bad. This is what you should try to remember every time you submit one of your written works to an editor.

Not everyone is going to like your writing style. Not everyone is going to agree with your opinions. Most importantly, not everyone is going to like you. And that’s okay.

There’s a reason why there is so much advice on finding the right audience. The truth is that you can’t be for everyone. If you try to appeal to every reader, you appeal to none of them. Your work becomes affected and you lose your sense of self. You need to find the right audience for your work ane editors, who understand a publication’s audience, may have a better grasp on how well your content matches their audience’s needs.

When an editor sends an article back to you, remember that there’s a good chance your content is simply not a good fit. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, nor does it mean you’re a bad person. The content is what’s being reviewed, not you, and sometimes it’s just not a good fit for a publication. You are not for everyone… and that’s okay.

3. Not all critique is valuable

Sometimes, the sting of rejection doesn’t come from being rejected, but rather from how you were rejected. Maybe the editor gave you harsh feedback about your article. Maybe they called it “boring and unimaginative,” as one editor did to a friend of mine. Ouch.

I’m not going to pretend like such a statement doesn’t hurt. Harsh critiques hurt, and many times, they can stick with you for a long time.

What’s important to do in moments like these is to look at the advice objectively. Is the feedback truly constructive or is it just plain mean? Editors work hard at their jobs and have a lot of knowledge of what good content looks like. Still, it doesn’t mean there aren’t a few bad apples in the mix.

Some people simply don’t know the difference between being honest and being a you-know-what. But that says more about them than it does about your work. Before you take any feedback to heart, take a moment to analyze it objectively. Many times, there really is a constructive lesson to learn from an editor’s comment on your work. Other times, however, it’s best to simply keep walking.

4. You are not your words

It can be very difficult to separate yourself from the content you write. You put your time and energy into creating your work and it’s difficult not to see your content as a part of you. Especially if you wrote a deeply personal piece. Still, it’s important to create some distance between you and your work.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling great about an article that does really well. Kudos to you for your success! Unfortunately, however, flops are a normal part of the process, so detaching your sense of self-worth from your work is a must.

If your article flops or is rejected by an editor, allow yourself to feel the sting, but don’t let these feelings take control. You are not the words you write. Your worth is not determined by how successful your content is or how many articles get sent back.

Take the feedback with a grain of salt, regardless of how positive or negative it may be. Take what is valuable and use it to improve your craft, but always keep in mind that you are worthy of love and respect no matter what.

5. You can always improve

Lastly, remember that there is always room for improvement. Just as some people don’t know how to respectfully give feedback, there are also people who don’t know how to accept feedback graciously.

Strive to be the kind of person who sees constructive criticism as an opportunity for growth. Having this kind of attitude will only benefit your writing. As I mentioned before, editors aren’t out to get you. Many of them are kind enough to tell you what it is you need to work on. This is a wonderful opportunity for improvement!

Key takeaways

When you create content on platforms such as Medium, developing a healthy distance between you and the feedback you receive is a must. Otherwise, you may find yourself unprepared for the critique you’re bound to receive. Here are five things to keep in mind as you read get feedback for your content writing efforts:

  1. The feedback you get from editors is never personal.
  2. Not everyone is going to like your work. And that’s okay.
  3. Not all critique has the same value. Take feedback with a grain of salt.
  4. The quality of your work does not determine the quality of your character.
  5. There is always room for improvement, so keep an open mind when accepting feedback.

Above all, keep writing.

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