How To Come To Terms With The Writing Validation You Are Searching For Might Never Be Found #Writing #Writers


Inside the minds of writers I think the same questions must rotate on a regular basis.

These include:

  • Am I good at writing?
  • Am I good enough to win a writing competition?
  • Am I good enough to write a book?
  • Do I have what it takes to write a decent book?
  • Do I have what it takes to sell books?
  • Are my stories good enough to self publish?
  • Are my stories good enough to attract an agent or publisher?
  • Am I capable of acquiring good reviews?

Some writers decide not to waste their time answering the questions and some writers spend too much time trying to answer the questions in their head. *Raises hand*

The writers in the latter camp, rush out into the world, searching high and low for some form of external validation, to help answer the questions.

It doesn’t matter how big your ‘to-do’ list is either, because when your mind asks you, ‘today, Lucy, do you think you are good enough to write a book?’ you have to drop everything and go validate.

The search for external validation will take several forms; submitting work to agents, trawling the comments from beta readers and reviewers, entering a multitude of writer competitions, staying close to all forms of social media and studying the faces of friends or loved ones, when they kindly offer to read their work.

Invariably you struggle to find any form of external validation.

No one can answer the question of whether you are a good writer. All your beta readers had differing views on your latest draft, so the chances on everyone agreeing on whether you are a ‘good writer’ feels slim.

No one can say whether you are capable of selling books.

No one can give you a solid guarantee on whether your books will attract the attention of an agent.

In some cases the writer will get a little anxious when they are not able to get approval, because that what external validation is, on their writing.

There are some writers, who find the agent, the publisher and the book deal. They are lucky enough to find the external validation they wanted.

However, I think the quest for external validation doesn’t stop there. If you read interviews and listen to their podcasts you will hear them trying to validate themselves through sales, reviews and social media activity.

Some of these successful authors STILL want an answer to their question – are you a good writer?

The search for external validation never stops.Β 

After years of searching for external validation, I am starting to wonder whether searching for the answers to the questions, is simply ANOTHER distraction.

We might never find the external validation we are searching for and even when we do, it still fails to answer the question.

So I am taking action and issuing a memo:


To: all writers:

Can we all ignore the questions in our heads?

Searching for external validation is pointless.

Action: Believe in your own work.

Thank you.

Keep writing!

Posted by

Still waiting for the Sleepless in Seattle film sequel. Romcom Author. Book Blogger. Mum of teens. Owned by a golden Labrador.

23 thoughts on “How To Come To Terms With The Writing Validation You Are Searching For Might Never Be Found #Writing #Writers

  1. Validation seeking never stops because we’re stuck in this infinite loop on social media. πŸ™‚ Not a wrong thing in itself but it’s a fact that most writers before social media thrived because they didn’t rely a lot on this. Today marketing is through social media, reviews are through social media, even validation of the work (genuine or otherwise) is through this medium. One way to combat it is to step back from social media very consciously and go into deep work/focus mode. That, I believe will help in the reduction of reliance on validation.

    And Lucy, you don’t need this validation, but I think you’re a wonderful writer. I really do. πŸ™‚

  2. Lucy I think even the most prolific writers out there doubt themselves. It’s natural! But you are a great writer, and I know many who would agree!!

  3. We will never defeat that beastie but we can try and keep it in a cage. It will escape of course but offer it a little bit of baked self doubt followed by the Scone of Confidence and it’ll usually crawl away again

  4. Good article! And you’re so right about the fact that you will never get 100% validation. I was on an internet break last week and when I came back I had loads of sales for the new series (which means that who ever those anonymous readers are, they must like Book 1 or they wouldn’t buy Books 2 and 3, too), a 5* review for The Devil You Know – and a damning 2* for Best Seller!!! You will never, ever find that everyone likes what you do, so you might as well just write for yourself and those who like your stuff.

    Writers who were able to find a publishing deal with a Big 5 or large indie early on are lucky, yes, but then they have to face validation from the reading public. There was a much passed-around tweet by Marian Keyes a couple of weeks back saying that she is okay with people not liking her books, but please could they not tell her so? It still trashes the confidence, however broadly you are read. And makes you wonder if they have a point. Is it crap? Are they right? Was everyone else just being kind? And on it goes….!

  5. Validation is the dirty secret of this endeavor. We say we write because we’re compelled to do so, but we’d be lying if we said that was all we needed. Every time I see someone has bought my book, it boosts my day. On the other hand, when there are no sales or reviews for a day I get tied up in knots. We don’t work in a vacuum, so validation is the only way we’re not alone in this rather solitary business.

  6. This post is so important and very needed! You had such a great point about even published authors still seeking external validation. We always think that whenever we get whatever external validation we’re after, we’ll be content. But being happy comes from the journey, not the destination, and it doesn’t matter how many books you sell as long as you believe in yourself.

  7. You are so right – we a search for external validation to silence the voices in our heads. But writing is so subjective that what I e person things is good another doesn’t. Just need an easy way to have faith in ourselves. πŸ€”

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