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The Five Stages of Recieving Negative Reviews

“Needs lots of editing. Points made obvious and superficial. Great book for late teens and early 20s. Lacks sophistication for older crowd.”

This was a review that a reader left me about my book  The Persistence Formula. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. I put a ton of time and thought into that book and it is beyond frustrating that a person can rip it apart so easily.

What makes it worse is that this reviewer is essentially saying that I lack sophistication.  However, I can proudly say that I’m officially not worried about it anymore because I have endured the five stages of receiving a negative review.twitter-152681_1280

Stage 1: Nausea – its as if the words form a fist and punch you directly in the stomach. You read it a couple of times and each time you feel worse. At that point you create a distance from the you and your screen.

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Stage 2: Failure – after you come to terms with reality and the nausea subsides (temporarily depending on the severity) then you can’t help but feel like a failure. You begin to question why you even bother writing. You wonder why you think you’re even qualified to try and write anything for anybody.

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Stage 3: Anger – you become overwhelmed with all that you want to do to avenge such negativity. You want to reply with a balance of defending yourself and verbally assaulting the reviewer. It should be pointed out that each of these three stages toggle back and forth between one another until you can come to terms with the fact that negative reviews are a part of writing.

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Stage 4: Acceptance – some times it takes reaching out to your writing groups or reading negative reviews of famous authors, but eventually you get to a point where you don’t mind the review. You don’t like it but you don’t mind it. You accept it.

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Stage 5: Badge of Honor – this stage doesn’t happen every time for me but every now and again I’ll read a negative review about one of my publications and feel a sense of pride. I get to a point that I’m proud of the fact that I strive to spread my message despite that vulnerability that comes with it.

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Stage 6: Learning – again this doesn’t always occur for me but once I come to terms with the review and experience stage five I will reach point where I’m ready to read the review objectively. Occasionally, the reviews will be helpful. Consider the review above. It does offer some constructive advice. For example the review began by stating that it required more editing. Its funny because when I wrote that book I hired a new editor and didn’t thoroughly review his work. As a result I hired a different editor to revamp the book.

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Stage 7: Forgotten – you eventually forget about the review. The review that took me through the previous six stages fades away into nothingness. The reality is, as much as it can hurt to read that somebody thinks that you work lacks quality, you still have work to do. To focus too much time and energy on something you can’t control is a waste of time and certainly will not help you produce more quality work.

If you’re reading this and your thinking to yourself that the stages above are not at all relatable to you then I’ll ask you to consider this request. Regardless of your stages I beg you to be sure that it doesn’t stall your writing efforts. Do not let the negativity of a reader dictate whether or not you continue writing.

Be discouraged, be sad, be angry, be whatever you want to be but just be sure to keep writing. As I stated earlier, there is a great vulnerability that writers are exposed to when they publish their work. This is part of what makes writing so great, because it makes it slightly risky. Once you publish something you are the mercy of your audience. It is scary but exhilarating and any negative review that comes your way should simply serve as a reminder that you are a human putting yourself out there to help or entertain as many people as you possibly can.

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You DO NOT Have to Write Every Day To Be A Writer

It seems like everywhere I turn some expert out there is telling me I should write every day. Even if it is for a short period of time, I should make it a habit to write every day.  For the longest time I would find myself stressed out because for whatever reason I was unable to successfully make myself write every day.

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I am a father of two and I work full time (about 40 to 50 hours per week) for 10 months out of the year. My daily routine can be summarized like this:

Wake up around 5AM. Brush teeth, shave, shower. Get my outfit on. Get one of my daughters and get them ready for the day. Kiss my wife and kids head off to work (coffee on the way).

I work from about 7AM to 4PM (often later), commute home and arrive by approximately 5PM. I hang out with my wife and daughters and eat dinner.

At 8PM we bring the girls up to bed.

By about 8:15PM we begin our night time routine. Clean the house, get the lunches and outfits ready for the next day which brings us to about 8:45PM or so.

work-management-907669_1280At this point we are both exhausted but this is when we take care of our side hustle objectives. We usually sit side by side for about an hour on our laptops writing. I should point out that the writing doesn’t always last for
an hour because we literally can’t keep our eyes open.

In the past I would go to bed upset with myself because I wouldn’t be able to fight through the exhaustion in order to make myself write every day. In addition, if I was successful one week then I would find that my wife and I would become more irritable with one another because we often neglected the time we needed to give to each other.

I was in a no-win situation. If I wrote every night my wife and I would be driving each other crazy. If I didn’t, I would feel like a lazy slob who wasn’t willing to step up and do what was necessary to achieve the success I so ambitiously sought.
town-sign-749613_1280This was until it hit me that I don’t have to listen to the experts. In fact, the experts might be amazing at implementing a schedule that works for them but are they really experts in my schedule? Definitely not!

I decided to create my own rules to ensure that I was writing enough but not neglecting other important aspects of my life. For me, I set a goal of a certain amount of words for the upcoming week that I want to write. I base the number on the responsibilities I know lay ahead in the week to come. If I have a few late days at work I might reduce the amount of words. If I know I’ll be able to get out a bit earlier than normal for a few days I’ll increase the amount.

Using my productivity system that I explain in my book The Persistence Formula I break each writing goals into 1000 word chunks. If I am hoping to write at least 4000 words for the week I’ll create four goals of “Write 1000 words towards Book X (or blog)”

It is important that you realize that I am not telling you to use my system. In fact I am intentionally not going into great detail about my system for ensuring that I am able to write enough.

I ask you to consider the following when you’re attempting to create your writing system.

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Plan regularly – every Sunday evening I write my goals for the week (which is based on my monthly goals). This is a regularly scheduled time that I allocated towards how many words I want to write for the week.

Follow through  – I believe the reason so many successful writers suggest writing every day is because they’re afraid of the procrastination and work avoidance that can stem out of a lack of a daily writing routine. I can very honestly tell you, however, that I do not write every day but I do continue to write on a regular basis.

Learn instead of stressing  –  though for the most part I am able to accomplish my weekly writing goals, every now and again I might miss a 1000 word block. Rather than beat myself over this missed goal I would reflect on what prevented me from achieving my goal(s) then adjust my future goal setting accordingly.

Write even if you’re not inspired – unfortunately your schedule will not always align with when you’re feeling inspired. Develop a way to capture your ideas when inspiration strikes so you have a data base of great ideas waiting and ready for you when you are able to sit down and write.

Regardless of the system you choose just remember that though there may be many experts out there that can genuinely help you. There may be times where you have to be your own expert and determine what works for you.

Happy writing!

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We All Think We’re Terrible Writers At One Point Or Another

despair-513529_1920I just finished the first draft of my fourth book. I should be excited, right? Nope. Not in the least. This goes against my character. Typically, I’m a pretty positive guy. However, the reason for my atypical negativity is a direct result of the feeling I had the entire time I finished the remaining final portion of my book.

The entire time I was writing it I just kept thinking to myself this is horrible. This is awful. Who would want to read this? People are going to think I’m full of bologna.

I am speculating at this point but I believe the cause for such a detrimental outlook was derived from the lack of clarity in my mind as to what I was ultimately trying to say.

Due to a few family issues the progress of this particular book was slightly delayed a bit so when I returned to finish it I felt like I had lost my voice. Since I am a firm believer in getting things done I worked through my negative outlook. I ignored the rude, hurtful comments my inner self was trying to convey and I wrote.

When I finished the book I felt relief but it was quickly overtaken by the fact that I had just completed a piece of trash. Here is why, ultimately, despite everything I am telling you I am still moving forward with this book.

  1. I hired an editor that understands my voice and knows me as a writer, at times, better than I know myself. He will repair any damage I’ve done.
  2. I reviewed some positive reviews from my other three books.
  3. I read a few paragraphs from my best selling book.

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These three things are enough to convince me that the negativity in my mind will pass and though I require help from others to perfect each book, that is all part of the process.

Here is what I’d like you take from this article. If you are new to writing then just be proud of yourself for completing a book or an article. If you’re a bit more experienced then leverage all the positive feedback you’ve received in the past to get you through your low moments.

Either way do not quit.

As I sit here writing I can’t help but reflect on what writing means to me. It means expression, freedom, value, problem solving, community and so much more.

Oh yeah and one more item…therapy.

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Thanks for letting me air out all my baggage.

Now enough reading, start writing!