My Advice: Never Read A Review…
I should stop right there. But I had a person yesterday ask me a couple of questions on how to get restarted once the critical voice took over. Good questions and I was willing to help.
So I asked a couple questions in return about what had stopped the writing and the fun in the first place. Seems the writer had a new book out, the writer was writing the next book in the series, and turns out reviews were consumed by this writer.
Consumed is the word that describes what the writer said.
I asked what kind of reviews.
Oh, no…. That way lies complete critical voice meltdown. Exactly what the writer was experiencing.
Many writers can shrug off bad reviews as too stupid for words, idiot didn’t read the book, not that idiot’s kind of book. (Notice, always the reader’s fault. Writer can then go back to work just fine.)
But when a number of fans rave and rave and go into detail about how good this or that was in a book, and the author reads such praise…?
The readers can’t be idiots, they liked the book. So the writer must have done something right and perfect and how in the world can the writer manage to do that again?
Here comes critical voice and chasing that perfection thing.
And thus I found the writer’s problem about being so overwhelmed by critical voice and why the writer couldn’t get started again. Yup. Good reviews will do that to you.
Only thing you can do at that point is dare to be bad, dare to write something worse than the book that was praised. In other words, you have to stop caring about what others think and for many writers, that is impossible.
It flat takes courage to dare to be bad, more than most writers have, sadly. Great reviews have killed many a promising writing career.
But we as writers can’t control when something we like is loved. In fact we hope for it. We just don’t dare learn about it past the monthly sales numbers.
So what can we control? Reading reviews. Don’t read any.
Of course, this goes along with not letting workshops read your work or numbers of beta readers and all that other silliness. In other words, you have to trust your own work, grow some courage, and dare to write into the face of any possible praise.
In the video of my talk at 20Books, I spoke on this topic. And then just in the last day or so here comes a great example of what I was talking about. So go watch that part of that video again.
And never read reviews for any reason. You can thank me in ten years when you are still around writing.