Sometimes, my husband Joe is incredibly insightful – despite the fact he insists he mostly has goldfish swimming around in his head.
He pointed something out to me yesterday, and it got me thinking.
I was briefly upset by some criticism I’d received from a random stranger on the internet, about the work I do.
Because criticism hurts, right? No matter where it comes from and what it’s about: it hurts.
Joe pointed out two things: firstly, that I love what I do so much, and care so much about doing the best I possibly can, that what I do is deeply a part of me.
And secondly, because I love what I do so much, I immediately see any criticism as a dig at me as a person.
Of course, it’s only a brief response because I’ve been working on my mindset and sense of self-worth for years… but for those moments, it’s awful.
I question everything about who I am, what I’m doing, and why.
And, in despair, I declare that I cannot do this anymore for it’s just too damn hard, and I shall go and work in a bookshop.
Because I’m nothing if not a person of proportionate response.
I reckon you understand exactly what I’m on about if you run a business or create anything.
We tie our self-worth to what we do and, by extension, to what others think of what we do. It’s inevitable, because what we do is a part of who we are – or, for me, at least, that’s true.
I am a writer. I’m lots of other things, too, but the core of me is a writer and a teacher of writing, so any criticism is like a poignard to my heart and soul.
I allow myself a few minutes to have the panic, to be sad, and to let it pass – and remember that I am not my business. That is not all I am.
It’s crucial to separate what we write and create and do from who we are.
And it’s crucial to remember our value as a human bean is not tied to any one specific creation or product or service or encounter with another.
You are not your business. You are not your art.
Take the criticism. Allow the reaction. Then examine it carefully.
Is there a lesson you can learn and use to improve? Take it.
Is the criticism totally unfounded and unjustified? In the immortal words of Elsa, let it goooooooooooo…
p.s. I’m a giant fan of improving a little every day: in Tiny Beetle Steps. You do that by repetition. By getting comfortable with boredom until it becomes zen.
So do this for me, if you’re hoping to write your book: write 100 words today. That’s all.
Then, tomorrow, write another 100.
Repeat. Improve. Achieve.
Start Writing Your Book Today
If you want to learn more about how to write, self-publish, and market a book for your business, snaffle yourself a copy of How The Hell Do You Write A Book? Then check out the blog and podcast for more articles and guides. If you want a little (or a lot) more help, find out how you can work with me.
Vicky Fraser is the founder of Moxie Books and author of How The Hell Do You Write A Book and Business For Superheroes. She helps business owners write life-changing books, connect with readers and new customers, and grow their businesses. When she’s not doing that, she’s hanging from a trapeze by her feet.