The more a writer makes her way through the world of blogs and books on writing, the more she will encounter a rather unexpected challenge to her writing career: experts who are eager to tell her that she sucks.
That’s right. It’s almost as if these “Sucky Experts” enjoy seeing a writer’s hopes and dreams dashed all to pieces. They’ll focus on all the negative aspects: they’ll say you suck because you’re not smart enough, or you’re too much of a wimp, or you don’t know how to get it together, or you’re irresponsible, and then–miraculously–they’ll say the only way that you’ll get where you want to go is to buy their book, take their service, go see them speak, or buy their DVD box set where they will teach you how to fix… well, you. Because, for Sucky Experts, there is always something intrinsically wrong with you.
There are even some Sucky Experts who will tell you you’re just not gonna “make it.” “Give up now,’ they say, “because your dreams will never come true.” They’ll tell you that it’s going to take too long, or you’re gonna have to sacrifice too much, or the market has changed too much, or that there’s only a small amount of “slots” available out there. They’ll tell you that there’s only a few writers who will get to be “Writers,” and that the rest of us are just gonna have to give up trying, because we’re gonna make it hard for the few writers who really deserve those “slots.” Unless, of course, you buy their book and learn exactly how to beat everyone else to your dream. Because, they say, you just can’t do it without their “expert advice.”
The Sucky Expert works on three fundamental beliefs:
One belief is that self-punishment and self-hatred is the only way to success. They seem to imply that it isn’t about how much education or training you get, or how hard you work, you just don’t have the “it” factor. So you have to fundamentally change who you are, which yes, amounts to self-hatred.
The second belief is scarcity. Scarcity is the belief that there’s only a limited amount of success or wealth out there and, in order to get it, you have to be a cut-throat competitor. You gotta screw over the other guys if you want to get ahead.
The third belief is in absolutes. Sucky Experts will pride themselves in telling you that their negative and incredibly cynical approach to life is the way to go because that’s just the way it is. It’s the way the world works. They will convince you that everyone is like that. They’ll say: “Of course you need to be brought you down. Of course you need to be told that your dreams won’t come true without my expert help. You don’t like it? Fine. But you’ll find that everyone is like that. It’s just the way it is in the writing world. Deal with it.”
And when you give them examples of people who managed to find success by being honest-to-goodness people who had a dream and went after it, despite all the odds, these Sucky Experts will tell you that that example was just an exception to the rule.
They’ll tell you all of this as if they were giving you valuable and sound advice.
But, really, they’re making you feel terrible about yourself and your chances so you can buy their product.
And that isn’t advice, it’s just plain evil.
Listen. If you’re writing, then you already know it’s hard. No one needs to tell you this. If you’re writing in today’s world, then you already know that it’s REALLY hard. No one needs to tell you this.
Sucky Experts think that they’re giving you “tough love” in order to make you “stronger.” But what these Sucky Experts fail to recognize is that life is already bringing writers down. Life is already giving us TRUCKLOADS of tough love–tough love that should be defeating us, but somehow we’ve managed to be stronger for it.
So, the last thing writers need–THE LAST, LAST THING WE NEED–is for there to be yet ANOTHER antagonistic force in our life.
Any number of signs are telling us every day that we suck: our job, our boss, an ex, an estranged family member, gas prices–you name it and we feel like It is out to get us, and It is stressing us the frak out.
So the last thing we need is another evil force in this world “advising” us to nix our dreams, or that something is wrong with who we are, or to resign ourselves to believe that the world is made up of cynics and we have no choice but to join the downer party.
Certainly I’m not asking for experts to encourage writers to be delusional. No, that’s not what I’m saying. (Certainly writing is challenging, I’ve said so myself many times.)
What I am saying is that writers these days don’t need hecklers. What we writers need–heck, what anyone trying to chase after a dream needs–are not hecklers, but cheerleaders. We need your support. We don’t need you to look down us with your chin raised saying: “Not. Finished.” Instead, keep reminding us that we have potential, and with the proper training, or after the proper amount of time, we will get there.
Now, in all honesty, this post was not written for the Sucky Experts, it was written for anyone who must navigate the many cynical circles of today’s world.
You must be warned that the Sucky Experts are out there, and they’re out to turn a buck at the cost of giving you low self-esteem.
Your challenge is to not let these so-called “experts” get to you. Because, unlike what Sucky Experts will say, the biggest threat to your writing career isn’t the market, or that you suck, or that the world is just cynical and you have to deal with it, or that there’s not enough “slots” for you or your writing career.
No, the biggest threat to your writing career are these so-called “experts” themselves.
Because telling you that you suck is not advice. It’s just plain evil.
much soft love,
What do you think? Do you agree with me that “tough love” is often used as a cover for mean-spirited put downs that don’t even qualify for real advice? Am I just overreacting, or have I hit a soft spot? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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