Not feeling validated? The five reasons to continue writing
We are programmed to seek validation for our writing.
It really isn’t our fault, though.
The process of receiving validation and praise began the day we created our first finger painting as a child.
On that day we were told how great our work was, and how clever we are.
We liked it.
We felt encouraged to try again.
In most cases, the work was distinctively average.
Nevertheless, from this point on, we developed the habit of showing people our work and getting praise for it.
Throughout elementary school, high school and college that praise was often balanced out by some serious reality checks.
We have all received positive or negative feedback for everything we’ve ever shown anyone.
Ultimately, we rely on others to tell us how we are doing.
This feedback validates our work and directly influences our desire to continue working.
The role of validation and feedback has never been truer than in the age of the ‘like’.
It has also never been harder to achieve this validation.
One click of a button represents our feedback.
It’s simple, someone either liked our work, or they didn't.
Or maybe they liked it but didn't show it (I’m guilty from time-to-time).
It’s at its most cruel in Medium.
It’s a veritable battleground of words.
Getting published in the ‘right’ publication at the ‘right time’ is hard.
Like most things, life is hardest when you are at the bottom of the pile.
The bottom of the pile in Medium is a new user building his or her own following, whilst simultaneously trying to get to grips with writing after a long hiatus.
Someone like me.
Regardless of our motivations for writing, we all appreciate validation for our work.
We are accustomed to it.
So what are we to do when we don’t get the validation we feel our work deserves?
One: Remember, change takes time
We’ve all been there.
You spend all day, perhaps longer, crafting what you believe might be the post which finally turns the page on your writing journey.
Unfortunately, the result is not one of job offers, peer accolades or even ‘likes’, but the proverbial digital tumbleweed.
It’s not a great feeling.
The best thing to do is to keep writing.
With each post that doesn’t give you the result you want, you get one step closer to the breakthrough.
Most importantly, every piece you write is as another opportunity to practice.
Two: Trust your process
Nobody starts writing to receive validation.
We are all here for different reasons.
Remember the reasons as you continue to write, regardless of your ‘success’.
Personally, I want to improve my craft and hopefully reach the point where there is a synergy between my thoughts and my ability to express them.
I hope to help myself and others along the way.
My motivations are self-therapy, skill building and altruism all wrapped up into one, and driven firmly by my ego.
Trust your process, not someone else's.
Your result may not be any semblance of fame.
But you might get what you need to out of the experience.
Why not write down your reasons for writing on a post-it and put on your screen?
Motivations change frequently, so don’t be afraid to update it from time to time.
Its easy to get caught up in a popularity contest, but when you consider your motivation, validation might not be that important to your process anyway.
Three: Be honest, is it really your best work?
When we sit down to write an article we have so many enemies.
Time. Energy. Multiple pieces in progress. Personal life. Confidence. Skill.
The list goes on.
All of these things affect our writing.
We are also not in a position where we can spend three weeks writing a 300-word article.
We are constantly trying to balance time and quality.
As time goes on we will produce decent work at a decent speed, but we might not be there yet.
And that’s not a problem.
In the meantime, check your spelling and grammar, re-read your work, ask a friend to read it, get involved in a great community like The Writing Cooperative.
Do everything you can to produce the best work possible within your constraints'.
Most importantly, don’t take it personally if people aren't responding to something which you also acknowledge as not being the best you can do.
Four : Remember, talent and popularity aren't the same thing
You've researched your piece.
The topic is interesting.
The content is unmistakably there.
Its been written with such poise, style and swagger that James Joyce would be proud.
You still aren't getting the accolades you hoped for.
Remember that talent and success aren't the same thing.
Never has this been truer in the social media age.
The world is full of all different pseudo- celebrities, influencers and reality tv stars.
If you are flying under the radar in Medium, it doesn't mean that what you've written is bad.
It might even be good.
Throughout the ages, artists have always struggled to gain attention for their work.
In today’s world, there are many distractions and perhaps we aren’t getting enough traffic or perhaps our work still needs to be polished.
The struggle is real.
Five- Don’t forget the competition
Competition on Medium is intense.
There’s no other way to look at it.
Its full of professional writers, with publications and editors, content plans and social media strategies.
Yes, it’s possible to start as an amateur, and work your way up, but it’s not going to be easy.
Take a look around at some of the expertise and quality of writing out there.
It can be intimidating.
We are living at a time where anyone and everyone has a platform for expressing our thoughts.
We are lucky.
The trade off is big competition.
If you are feeling down, take a look at all of the other work out there and you’ll come across some incredibly talented writers, some of whom are ‘successful’, others who are not.
No matter where you see yourself in the world of online writing, you certainly are not alone.
What are your thoughts?
How does validation effect your outlook towards writing?