What Type of Writer are You?(and Why it Matters)

    type of writer - man at typewriter

    What type of writer are you? Are you the type who glows with pleasure when a client compliments a piece you’ve done or when readers go crazy over a post you wrote? Or are you the type who enjoys praise and thanks people for compliments but who doesn’t really need that to know the work was awesome?

    It’s about where you get that sense of validation and approval – from the outside or from within? Some people are externally validated, and they feel they’ve reached approval when others have a positive reaction to their work. Internally validated people tend to find that approval from within, and they give themselves their own approval.

    You should know which type of validation you seek, if you’re a writer. (I’ll tell you why in just a little bit, so keep reading.) Who or what gives you that golden stamp of approval? What tells you that you’ve done a good job? How do you know when the work you’ve done was great?

    Here are a few clues to help you determine whether you’re externally or internally validate:

    If you’re externally validated, you might:

    • Wait for comments to come in before you feel you can heave a sigh of relief
    • Think a good post is one that has many comments, not just a few
    • Hope for a client’s positive feedback and relax only when you receive it

    If you’re internally validated, you might:

    • Feel like you know the work is good
    • Deliver to clients and move on to the next job without thinking twice
    • Think that comments are nice but that they don’t really matter

    So why should you know where you fit in? Because I’ve noticed that internally validated writers tend to have more confidence about their work, stress less over writing and feel more relaxed in general.

    There’s nothing wrong with being more externally validated than internally validated, of course (or vice versa). You are who you are, and if it’s working for you, that’s great. There are also exceptions to the rules – aren’t there always?

    But I’ve noticed that, predominantly, writers who just know their work is good and who don’t really care if clients rave or not (though it is nice), tend to be more self-assured about their work and have lower levels of anxiety.

    They also suffer less writer’s block, it seems. They know what they have to do, they know what makes their writing solid, they know how to write well, and most importantly, they don’t get jammed when client or readers didn’t have the response they desired.

    I see people suffer writer’s block all the time. It’s painful to observe. In almost every single case, I’ve noticed clues that these anxiety-ridden writers are externally validated people.

    Think I’m wrong? Imagine this:

    You worked hard on a post for an idea you had – a good idea, one that made you feel exicted. You spent hours writing and sweated to get the post just right. And when you finished, you liked the piece. You thought it was pretty damned good.

    But then your readers started commenting. First one didn’t like it. Then another. In fact, most people really didn’t like your post at all. Some told you bluntly that it was a terrible piece and others said they just didn’t get the point. They wished you’d written something else. A few readers even unsubscribed from your blog.

    Alright, that’s not a fun situation for either type of writer, internally or externally validated. The point is that each type of writer will react very, very differently to this scenario. Can you imagine how?

    The internally validated writer might be a little stung. Probably more indignant than anything. He might shrug the criticism off, argue with readers or point out the nuances that make the work special. He might even think he should’ve kept this post and idea to himself.

    The externally validated writer? He’d be crushed.

    This doesn’t mean internally validated writers are better at handling feedback. But they wouldn’t be crushed by negative criticism. And they’d be able to write again.

    The externally validated writer would be able to write again too, but how do you think he’s feeling about it? He’s probably feeling nervous, maybe even a little scared. Maybe he doesn’t think he’s a good writer after all anymore. Or that he shouldn’t be blogging.

    Maybe he starts to doubt his ability to write in the first place, because now he can’t seem to write at all. Every sentence comes out sounding awkward. The work is slow going. It’s getting harder and harder to write. Nothing comes out properly. Some days there are blank pages. And eventually more of them, until writing becomes a dreaded struggle.

    It makes sense, doesn’t it? If an externally validated writer gets his approval from others, and those others have resoundingly told him his work didn’t pass muster… well.

    What will it take to bring the spark back to life? One of two things:

    • Someone to bring approval back to that writer’s life
    • The ability to find that approval again – from within

    When you learn how to stop seeking external validation and start getting that sense of approval from within, I believe you can seriously smash through writer’s block and even move forward to create a mental environment where you can perform easily, well and with full self-confidence.

    But moving from being externally validated to enjoying more of a balance with internal validation takes time. And it also takes some proactive thought patterns to help you direct validation back where it works best for you. Here are some tips to help:

    • Each time you have a negative thought such as, “I’m no good at this. I can’t write. This sucks,” firmly tell yourself that you can write (you’ve done it before), you are good at this (after all, you’ve succeeded in the past), and that it doesn’t suck (it’s just a situation you can learn from). Believe yourself, too. Be tough on yourself and tell yourself to stop thinking you’re a failure – you’re not.
    • Get the event behind you in the past, and don’t wallow in it. You’re a writer who had a rough patch and it’s over. Don’t let yourself stay there in yesterday, and live in today. Put the situation in the past where it belongs and tell yourself that today, you’re working on moving forward.
    • When you get a bit of confidence back, put yourself to the text. Prepare some writing that you’re going to show someone else. Also (most importantly), prepare affirmations that you’ll tell yourself no matter what that person says about your work. Preparing before the moment of feedback in this way conditions you to always have strong, self-confident words to tell yourself at the slightest hint of criticism – eventually the criticism won’t bother you at all, and you’ll be able to listen objectively without feeling hurt.
    • By waiting for someone else to give you approval, you’re actually giving away control (and your ability to write with self-confidence). You’re giving other people the power to decide if your work is worthy or not – shouldn’t you be the judge of that? Sure, feedback is helpful and you should listen to see where you could improve, but remind yourself that whoever is giving the feedback isn’t the Almighty Ruler of Approval and doesn’t get to decide where you measure up.
    • Remember that you’re in control of your thoughts and therefore, your results. If the result you want is to never have to depend on anyone’s approval and never be crushed by negative feedback? Then control your thoughts and tell yourself you don’t need anyone’s approval and that feedback doesn’t bother you – you’ll achieve your desired result.

    Like I said, it may not be easy and it will take time, but I nearly guarantee that the more you bring validation back to yourself so that you get it from within, the more control you’ll have over your ability to write, write well, and write often.

    Without needing anyone’s approval.

    About the author

      James Chartrand

      James Chartrand is a Top Ten blogger and an advocate for stress-free writing that gets results. Learn how to write content that really works, build rapport with readers, and fill your magical hat with money with the Damn Fine Words writing course for business owners. It's Write to Done approved!

    • Excellent post. I was just thinking about this today. I’m completely new to blogging and have just published my 2nd post. After being away all day I couldn’t wait to get online and check to see if there were any comments. When there wasn’t (which isn’t surprising since I’m just learning about SEO) I started doubting the grade of my writing.

      Thanks for sharing some tricks on how to overcome this!

    • Rob says:

      Hi James, I’d hate to be a “party-pooper” or come over as simply an iconoclast by instinct, but really parts of this article are not, in my opinion, very helpful. What you seem to be attempting to do is establish labels: “externally and internally validated” (ugh, it makes us sound like computers!) and prescriptive rules, when there is really no need for them. By doing so, again in my opinion, you run the risk of enticing people towards thinking of themselves into a particular pigeon-hole. Personally, I don’t think that is a good idea.

      It seems to me to be pure commonsense that if you are not confident in your writing (as in any other walk of life) you will be wary and potentially unable to perform to your best. Similarly, a confident writer is perhaps likely to perform better. This is not, as they say, rocket science, and most people would immediately recognise that there are no neat boxes here. We are all different, there are degrees; if you like: a “confidence scale”. Look in any lifestyle magazine and you’ll find a zillion ways to build confidence. That should have been your blog post.

      Instead of this, first you invent a couple of mechanistic sounding labels. Next you proceed to list some “clues” as to how to label ourselves. Then, in accordance no doubt with our prevailing politically correct “nobody loses” culture you issue the standard “get out” clause:

      “There’s nothing wrong with being more externally validated than internally validated, of course (or vice versa). You are who you are, and if it’s working for you, that’s great.”

      Having told us that there’s nothing wrong with being either type of validated, you then proceed to spend the remainder of the article telling us why it’s better to be internal.

      Oh, and there are “exceptions to the rules” apparently. What rules? Oh sorry, the rules you’ve just invented about internal and external validation. Don’t you think that it’s the “rule” itself that’s invalid. The exceptions are of course the vast majority of us, who, for a huge and diffuse number of reasons to do with life in its widest sense, react in different ways and write in different ways and for different reasons. For instance, the linkage you make between “external validation” and writers’ block based upon your rules is quite worrying. From personal, and many second hand, experiences, I’d say that so called writers’ block can be the result of myriad causes including, ironically, the need for what you call internal validation.

      On a positive note the confidence building advice you give is really excellent. It’s just that I don’t feel you needed to build a quasi medical case prior to giving it!

      Hope that helps.

    • Joelle says:

      Good post. I go back and forth depending on what it is I’ve written.

    • Somebody please hand me an edit button?

    • You’ve got is sussed, LeeAnn. Wish I could take it negative feedback like that.

    • LeeAnn says:

      Thank you for writing this post. As a graduate student, my writing is mostly externally validated. After all, the assignments that I compose are completed in exchange for course grades. My primary audience is the professor who is grading the assignment, and to earn anything less than an “A” in graduate school is unacceptable. I can imagine not being completely devastated if I earn a “B” on one assignment, maybe even two, but if I continually ending up earning “B” grades – or even a dreaded “C” – I have a feeling that I would be disappointed, discouraged, and demoralized.

      That being said, when I compose blog entries or write for non-academic purposes, I do not stare at the computer screen for hours on end waiting for affirmative responses to what I’ve posted. If anything, I am more pleased when I receive negative comments, as long as those comments are presented in a clear, logical, well thought out manner. Negative comments about content are important to me because I want to refine my arguments and make certain that what I state is really what I think. In other words, I want to make sure that I have looked at a subject from every conceivable angle and have come to the best conclusion possible about it, and sometimes negative comments show me that I need to give a subject a little more consideration before I fully commit to an opinion on it. Likewise, some negative comments demonstrate that the reader who is responding didn’t fully understand my argument – that part of my argument was somehow lost in translation, so to speak – and it helps me as a writer to be able to identify when my writing is weak or unclear.

      On the other hand, I do understand that not all writers view negative feedback in the same way that I do. I’ve seen the devastating effect of harsh critiques through the eyes of a couple of friends who have tried writing for an online audience. In fact, I can think of one in particular that hasn’t updated his blog in over a year because he became so concerned about how others might receive his writing that it paralyzed his writing process. I plan to send him the link to this blog entry in the hopes that maybe it will inspire him to seek more internal validation and take control of his own writing again.

      Thanks again for sharing your tips on overcoming the need for external validation!

    • Great article, James – thank you! I never really thought about this one before…but you helped me realize that I need to rely much more on my own internal approval. In fact, when I trust my gut and go with what’s right/best for me…everything always unfolds beautifully. Call it my own internal guidance, compass, etc. – I know when it’s speaking to me and it never fails me. Thanks!

    • James Shewmaker says:

      What matters is not whether the reader agrees with you or not. Nor is what matters whether what you are saying is popular or not.

      But what is important is whether you fulfilled the semantic mission of your writing. Did the reader receive the communication which you intended?

      If you are writing poetry, did the poetry evoke the reaction intended? If you are writing prose, did the story envelop the reader and if you are writing an apologetic did you get the point across regardless of whether the reader agrees.

    • It’s weird because I don’t feel the need to be externally validated with my design work, but I do with my writing.

      I guess it’s because I know when my designs are good or could be better. I’d like to have the client’s approval, of course (they’re paying me, after all). But, I feel I’m the best judge of the work in the end because I’m the expert.

      But, with the writing, I feel more insecure. I’m new to writing on a regular basis and I feel all wobbly. I don’t really know if it’s good or crap. So, if someone says it’s good, I take it as a sign I’m going in the right direction. Same in reverse even though I know it’s illogical.

      So, maybe it’s something that you gain as your level of experience increases.

    • Stefanie says:

      I contemplate this topic often. I just wrote an article with a sub-heading, “Write Without Expectations.” The gist of the section explains, “Don’t expect people to love or hate your writing because you’ll encounter both reactions.”

      Letting go of the need to get a “gold star” is priceless. It makes an impact in writing (and life).

    • I think this is really good advice…I would say it applies for more than just writing, but any sort of creative work.

      This is something that I struggle with. I like how you give concrete suggestions. I think getting a grip on the exact thoughts that are going on in your head and causing you to feel upset when your work is ignored or not well-received is really critical. I’ve found the processes you describe to be very helpful.

      I’ve even taken them further…when I end up with a self-critical thought, I often write it down. When it’s on paper, it looks pretty absurd…and then I write out a refutation of the twisted reasoning I was using and begin to write more from a perspective of “internal approval” as you describe it. And when I’m in that place, I know it…I’ll write something and put it out there and I know it doesn’t matter how people receive it.

      You know the weird irony? I’ve found that the work that I know is good when I finish it…the work I feel content about and I don’t need approval about, is usually my best work and it’s best-received by others. Strange, huh? But it makes sense.

    • Thanks James for articulating the crazy internal conversations (read: self doubts) we writers have in our heads. I think experience and time can transform an externally validated writer into an internally validated one. Writers must learn to trust their guts. Of course heaping praise from clients is always welcomed. 😉 And we all can learn from criticism — whether it’s warranted or the result of things that are of our control. Every day is a learning experience. Often telling myself “I’ve done this before” is enough to push past any self-doubt induced speed bumps. Again thanks for a great post, this one gives pause for reflection.

    • @Andy – Same here. I love the people who come comment on Men with Pens, and we have some great chats. My main buyers very rarely come from there, though. Always important to know where your customers are coming from!

      @Tess – Yeah. I’m the same way. I just “know” it’s good. (Like this post!) And it’s okay not to be great all the time. I’m glad I have all those not-so-great times, because it helps me measure the moments when I’m bloody glorious 😉

      @Mary – School is horrendous. Most of our emotional baggage we drag through life can be brought back to an event that happened in school (or school-aged years). One of my favorite defenses for this is when my wee one asks me, “Do you think this drawing is good?” – I always reply, “What do you think?” It teaches her to trust her own judgment and not to expect external approval. Hopefully, anyways!

      @Lauren – For sure, getting clocked with some serious feedback shakes up our sense of “was this really good”? But then again, the Mona Lisa gets some serious criticism too, and it’s still up on the museum walls 😉

      @Bhaskar – Joe Vitale’s book is fairly interesting. I find it’s a bit TOO easy to read but it was definitely fun. Write or Die? OY! Not for me, thanks! 😉

      @Pam – Ah, I can see you being internally validated, for sure! Most entrepreneurs are, and I class you in there mostly because of your driven mindset and perseverance. (And Dads are great, eh?)

      @Preeti – I’d actually look towards figuring out what the approval of your mom and grandfather mean to you – and then figure out whether meeting that approval makes sense/works for you. Introspection time!

      @Charis – Well, “the way people work” is pretty all over the place, actually, and each of us works in a different way… so there are literally millions and billions of “ways people work”, and that means you have *tons* of choice. It’s true we do tend to filter the world the way WE work and assume everyone’s like us. It’s a little startling to realize NO ONE is like us!

      @Issa – I’m absolutely glad I could help.

      @E – That’s a damned good question, and while I have my personal opinions, it sure would be cool to get an expert psychologist’s opinion. I’ll go ask on Twitter and see if I can rouse one or a few of my friends!

    • E says:

      I will say with great certainty that I’m an externally validated writer. That admission being made, though, I wonder this: Do professional writers (those who get paid) tend to be more internally validated? Is external validation more likely to occur in an less experienced writer?

      • It has little to do with whether somebody is a professional or an amateur and everything to do with their personality type. You will find arrogant/confident writers who don’t give a damn what anybody else thinks and others that spend hours scouring reviews looking for validation.

        As James said it is possible for highly internal people to shift emphasis, but it is really difficult.

    • Issa says:

      I think I’ll have to go with someone who fears that my writing is not good enough and I really appreciate you writing this post. It’s like a wake up call for me to believe in the powers I wield over written words. In the end, I am in control of my own destiny. I think I should be reading Rhonda Byrnes’ “The Power” just for the idea to sink in much deeper. Thanks!

    • Susan says:

      Thanks James! Good advice that I will take and do!

    • Charis says:

      Thanks for the insightful article! I am way too externally driven and my husband is constantly pointing that out to me. I figured that was just the way people were. We want validation for our hard work. I never thought I had a choice. It will take some work, but I am going to focus more on my work and less on the acceptance of others. Thanks!!

    • James,

      You go girl! You write amazing posts.

      I started to wonder what type of writer or blogger I am. I guess I do want validation of some kind. When I was a teen, I sent a short fiction to a NY magazine to be rejected and it took me long time to recover as my mom and grandfather are published authors and I wanted to be like them.

      Now, all these things did not seem matter as much but having nice, kind thoughtful comments sometimes sure help boosts my ego. I will admit it. 🙂

    • I get a lot of pleasure from writing itself, and generally *feel* when something is right.

      Whether or not it is right for everyone is ok with me.

      With the only exception being if my Dad likes it, it is extra special.

      He is too nice to say if he doesn’t like something, but I can tell.


    • Bhaskar says:

      I think I am a mix of both, with the fat kid on the balance being the internally validated one. Over at my blog some of my most researched,well written (I think) and extensively sourced posts have garnered zero responses. I would be lying if I said it was nothing but that feeling of disappointment stayed only for some time.

      I would rather have 5 well written posts with zero comments which I would feel better even when I was reading them later than have 20 comparatively shoddy posts with tons of comments in each which makes me cringe everytime I look at them

      That said, I do struggle with writer’s block sometimes, if you define writer’s block as having no idea what you want to write in your niche.

      As to criticism I have overwhelmingly received positive vibes about my work. This was both when I was writing as a hobby and professionally in print. As I am moving into an professional writing role online the good feedback is still coming my way. I am sure I will get some scathing comments one of these days and it should be fun to see how I react. Maybe one of ya can do the ripping honors 🙂

      BTW Dr Wicked’s Write or Die is awesome.That has been the answer these days to unblocking my writer’s block when it pops out.I set it at the highest and most strict settings and let fly on the KB. Joe Vitale’s Hypnotic Writing is also something that I repeatedly refer to for tips and inspiration. Keeps the wheels inside greased.

    • I find myself flitting between being externally and internally motivated. When I get seriously negative feedback, I can’t help but think that it’s a result of poor writing… but I don’t let it get into my head. I address the situation head on, and fix mistakes or apologize to my client. For the most part, however, I truly believe in my work – I have a passion for writing, and I let this show every time I sit down at my computer.

      Maybe those who struggle with negative external feedback should try some private writing exercises. Write poetry or short stories, and write them only for yourself. That way, you can accept your writing – and you’ll get a little practice in too.

      Also, Mary above and possibly some other commenters make a good point: our world is pretty focused on external validation through grades, bonuses, rewards, etc. To push past this and accept your work on its own merit is a difficult – but rewarding – journey.

    • James, love your explanations of internal and external motivation and acceptance.

      Several times I have tried to explain the difference between “behaviorism” and “constructivism” which is educational jargon for the same thing you have described so brilliantly as internal and external.

      The traditional schools use behaviorism all day long, grades K-post graduate. More than any content, external judgment of our teachers, parents, peers is drilled into us. Each of us learns that positive and/or negative reinforcement: grades, stars or punishments are what are important and tell us if we are successful or a failure. We are taught to value the external judgment of others over our own inner voice.

      I think this is why so many of us are always looking for external validation. It takes guts to throw off our behaviorism baggage. (hmm. Like that alliteration, behaviorism baggage?– no, I don’t care if you like that alliteration because I do, and I am not going to worry about external forces any more! 🙂

    • I “feel” it when I’ve written a great piece. It’s guaranteed to happen when I write a guest post because I won’t let it go until it is. Then I think, “why doesn’t it work out like this all the time.” Today I will give myself permission to be great all the time;)

    • I struggled with this for the longest time. I was so concerned about trying to write what I thought would bring in comments. I’ve realized that most of my loyal readers and biggest fans don’t comment most of the time. They’re also the the folks who are first in line to spend money on when I have something new to offer. I don’t think that would be the case if I was always concerned with writing to get a response instead of what I want to write about and believe in.

    • These are great comments, everyone! Couple of thoughts I have about them:

      @Kathy – I’m not a subscriber of the continual writing theory, actually. I’ve found that it turns writing into a chore or a task, versus something I take pleasure in doing. I’ll always sit down at my optimal hours for writing, but if I’m not ‘into it’ that day, I don’t write, period. My best work always comes when I WANT to write… not because I HAVE to write 🙂

      @Perry – There are bad sides to being too internally validated, absolutely. Striking a balance between the two is key, I believe.

      @Leah – I wrote a post over at Men with Pens a while back about my own stint with writer’s block. First time I’d ever had it, and I didn’t understand it at ALL. But it was a fearsome beast indeed… until I figured out that I had somehow skewed my balance of external-internal and had been looking for someone’s approval on my work. The minute I reminded myself that I have all the resources I need within myself to decide whether my work was good or not, it vanished. Point being, we have the power within us to make or break writer’s block!

      @Susan – Hit publish. Then walk away from it and don’t look at the comments. Come back in a week if you’re curious, but train yourself from the start to take a breath, hit publish and know you did the best you could with that post at the time. Eventually, you won’t even think twice. “This is good. Done.” And the comments will just be extra gravy, not the main meal.

      @Mary – Ahh, I can’t say I don’t like praise, so thank you 😉 It’s true that defining what “good” means is important – we all have different measures. But I think that with the thousands of readers out there, using comments as a gauge to whether the post hit the mark might be a slippery slope. For every person that comments, so many more won’t, and we can never know what they think!

      @Nesima – I like to see what people respond to and work on hitting that mark as much as possible – but I certainly don’t worry when I post something that isn’t rock-star material. We all have our good days and bad, after all! We do the best we can. For having goals of word counts, that can often help people unblock. Sometimes just writing, no matter how bad it is, can give us something to improve on to train ourselves how to make our work better.

      @Greg – Your comment made me think of all those times writers predict a particular response… and the opposite occurs. “I might get a few comments…” and it goes viral. Or, “this one will be controversial!” and everyone agrees with the post. Fun times!

      @Natalie – I got a taste of that this summer on stage. I noticed many people trying to gauge the quality of their performance based on the crowd’s reaction… and one night, there was none. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The troupe thought they’d flopped… and as the night went on, their performances began slipping. They found out afterwards that the reason there’d been very little reaction was that the crowd had actually expected less than they received – and were so blown away by what they DID receive that they just didn’t know how to react! So it goes to show that sometimes, what we perceive as people’s reactions isn’t always the reality 🙂

      • Interesting, James, what you say about skewing your internal-external balance.

        This all had me thinking, and I realized–similar to what another commenter just wrote (LeeAnn in grad school)–that I had 8 years of external validation aka college and grad school lol (English major both times). Back then, in some ways I was pretty confident but in other ways, not so much, and I was often pleasantly surprised when a short story or journalism article or lit paper came back with great comments. A few times I was totally bummed with less-than stellar remarks, but I learned from them. And all those years of writing papers for so many purposes–and with the same A is admirable, B is borderline attitude that LeeAnn mentioned–the external became completely internal, meaning I can be fairly objective about my stuff.

        Not that I don’t like praise! And I still learn from negative feedback when it’s valid or well-thought-out (as opposed to someone who is just reacting emotionally to my opinion).

        Great stuff to think on. I agree about having the power to break it! For me, if I can’t write (as I just wrote to Martin) there’s a reason and, if I have to, I can work with it.

    • Ah yes, the classic perfomer’s dilemma – did I do a great show because my voice felt on form? Or because the audience went gaga afterwards? What am I using to measure my sucess? This is such a great question – especially if you are stuck on external validation but haven’t pinpointed exactly what it needs to be, and so get trapped in a strange void of eternal dissatisfaction. Here’s to deciding what you need to feel good about your art!

    • Greg says:

      Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I hadn’t focused on the internal/external validation issue too much. I tend to be a bit analytical with comments and look for connections between what the commenter says and what was in the writing I produced. When they refer to specific elements of what they read or discuss particular ways that I presented something to them, that helps me a lot in “seeing” how my writing affected them. Of course, I am happy when people say that something helped them and a little bummed when they are critical, especially without referring to anything specific. I see this as part of my process of honing my communicative skills.

    • Nesima says:

      Thanks so much for this insightful post. I’m going to try to implement these tips into my life whenever I feel I’m not being true to myself. I always thought I was a confident writer with thick skin that in the writing for the art of it, but when I read about all the success of debut authors and look at the trends, I start to panic and try to alter what I’m working on to make it “better.” Positivity is the key!

      Having a stress-free attitude would seem to make it a lot easier to focus on the work. I definitely need to also work on just typing through it all and allowing myself to make mistakes. I like using the Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die program, which does push you to continue writing until you reach a time goal or word count goal, but it somehow motivates me to get to the finish line.

      I just started a blog and it’s tough to think it’s making a difference if people aren’t commenting. I treat comments as votes of approval. I’m learning that it’s much better to interact with other writers, ask questions, answer theirs and that will lead people to come to your blog. As long as I keep putting out quality content, I believe my blog can successfully join the writing community and help young writers.

    • Thanks for a great post, James. (Some external validation for you 🙂

      I think that external validation can be important. Because whether a post is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depends on the kind of measure I’m using.

      For example, if ‘good’ means the quality of my writing, or the depth of reflection expressed in the post, I’m confident of judging that myself. But what if ‘good’ means that the post is of interest to the blog readership?

      I’ve written good posts – that were quite wrong for my target audience. That’s where it’s important to take account of external validation.

    • Susan says:

      James – this is a great article for me as I’m looking to make the shift from figuring out how to do this blogging thing to actually doing it on purpose:) And – I have to admit; I’ve been one to not hit publish if I was the least bit doubtful of my content or how it might be received by my readers. Even though the comments have always been positive – I’ve been afraid to get that first one that wasn’t:-/

      This is really good food for thought on moving from sometimes “fluff” and “filler” to communicating ideas and information that might cause my readers to think and begin to ask their own questions.

      Good post and for me, perfect timing as I had worked all day yesterday on a series that I was ready to pull because of this exact idea. I’m going to let it rest and go back to it with fresh eyes and a new way of looking at this entire idea.

      • Actually, you ought to welcome negative comments. For one thing, someone might give you a chance to learn something (as in the comment on some other blog where a reader said: Oy, typo’s. Can you pay attention please?), but more importantly, the more upsetting a comment is, the more it will cause you to think, which in general leads to better writing, actions, and results.

        Don’t fear it; Seek it.

    • Hi James! Now I understand why I don’t ever have writer’s block and why I’m so puzzled when other people complain about it. For me, I don’t really believe it exists, in itself. Either we have something to say or we don’t, and there’s plenty to talk/write about. Now I understand better what other people are going through–thanks.

      I write for the joy of writing for its own sake as well as to communicate with others. I know when something is really good and when it’s trash–especially with my poetry.

      Interesting that you mention readers’ comments on blog posts. I’ve noticed that a lot of people around the blogosphere comment on the quality of posts, and I shrug. I’m not interested in whether people think I’m a good writer or not on my blog–nor am I terribly interested in how skilled other bloggers are. I’m putting out ideas, stuff to think about, and I’m reading their ideas for inspiration or something to consider or learn, though of course great writing helps! I have a hard time wading through sloppy writing. But sharp, catchy, fluffy writing can never disguise a lack of solid content. I’d rather read brilliant ideas expressed in mediocre prose than the same ol’ same ol’ dressed up to look pretty.

      Thanks for something to think about 🙂

      • Leah internal/external validation is not necessarily linked to the potential for having writers block. I think I’m a great writer (few other people do) and rarely give damn what anybody else says, yet I frequently get writers block.

        • Hi Tim, Thanks for your input. What do you think causes it, for you?

          I was thinking about this, and there are definitely times that I just can’t write. I’ve never called it writer’s block, though. I call it “totally distracted with a bunch of crap and too much other stuff in my head for anything to flow out” or something like that. Like right now, I have a seriously ill cat and a bunch of busy work with a deadline that pays the bills, and there’s no way I could possibly sit down and write some lovely, flowing poetry while my head is filled with a bunch of worry (well I don’t have time anyway right now!). So I don’t even try. Therefore, no writer’s block lol (obviously I can write about this stuff! I actually ramble on when I’m stressed lol)

          Well anyway, what causes it for you?

          • I think you probably answered your own question!

            The brain is very poor at doing more than one thing at once consciously. So when you have other distractions you are burning up a lot of creative energy just dealing with those, leaving less to use on writing.

            Some people notice an increase in creativity when they get sick and all of a sudden aren’t worrying about work, but have a mind free to wander.

            Not sure what causes it for me, but I do know what unsticks me and that’s going to the gym. When I’m so tired I can hardly see straight on a treadmill I nearly always get a blog idea or two pop into my head.

    • Perry says:

      Great blog I agree with your ideas. I am mostly internally validating, but like the external validation as a bit of a check to make sure I’m not arrogant.

    • A really honest blog — and we all have experienced both at some times in our lives. Coontinuously writing appears to be the key. Just like the fact that you cannot have everyone liking you…not everyone will appreciate your writing style.

      Good job og putting it into words.


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