D is for...Don't Be THAT Writer
This weekend I had the privilege of both attending and speaking at my local TX Two Step Writer's conference. And one of the speakers was the lovely Candace Havens, who I always seem to learn something from no matter what she's giving a workshop on.
This time her workshop was on writer karma. I won't list out her rules because, well, it's her workshop, but the gist is basically the definition of karma--what you do for others will come back to you. And one of the things I walked away with from her talk was: Don't be that writer.
People respond to positivity (spellcheck says that's not a word, but I bet the New Kids on the Block would disagree.) Our own lives are stressful enough, we aren't going to seek out negative people to add to it.
So don't be that negative Nancy in the room. You know the one. The one who bitches about everything, who places blame on outside forces instead of looking inward, who thinks they can lift themselves up by putting other writers down ("I can't believe that dreck got published when my book is so much better."<--come on, you know we have all thought that about some book at some point. Just don't say it out loud.)
That attitude is damaging to you and will alienate you from others. You think if I'm chatting with a group at a conference and someone says how they thought (insert book name) was crap and that the writer is a hack that I'm going to be endeared? What if said writer is a friend of mine or with my agent or my publisher? Do you think that's going to make me want to be buddies with this person? Do you think it's going to make me want to go out of my way to help them? Probably not.
I know this may be controversial, but the same goes for writers posting scathing reviews online. Candace outright said that if she sees an author tearing down another author in a review, she moves the author reviewing off her "to buy" list. And even if you don't consciously do that, don't you think that's going to stick in your brain when it comes to deciding which book to buy--negative Nancy's or someone else's? (Imagine at a corporate job if you went into an interview for a promotion and spent your time talking about how much your co-workers suck and how much better you are. How do you think that would go over?)
Now, before I get hate mail, I'm NOT saying someone shouldn't be allowed to post negative or even scathing reviews. That's everyone's right. It's definitely a reader's right. Honest reviews are needed for every book, and I know I count on them to help me making my buying decisions.
However, once you put on the writer hat, you're in a different place whether you like it or not. You're not simply a reader anymore. People are watching you. And karma may bite you in the butt. So you need to make a personal decision on what's right for you. (My personal yardstick is that if you wouldn't say whatever it is to the writer face to face, you probably shouldn't put it on the internet.)
And instead of focusing on the negative stuff, look for ways you can uplift others. If you truly loved a book, take the time to go write a review on the big sites. If you're further along on the publishing track, offer to crit or help out a friend who may still be in the beginner stages. If someone writes a fabulous blog post, retweet it for them. Encourage and cheer on those around you when they hit a milestone or accomplish something they've been working at.
Spread that love and it will inevitably come back to you. And then if you do have days where things aren't going well and you need to vent or bitch, people will rally around you instead of going, "Ah, hell, there she goes again."
So I challenge you today to go out and do something to pay it forward or pass along the love. Write a review, give someone a pat on the back or a retweet, or cheer someone up who may be having a downer day.
Have you experienced a Negative Nancy (or Ned) in your world? How do you feel when you see a writer talking badly about another writer or their book?