Validation and the Writer


As every writer knows all too well, validation? Is hard to come by. At a job, it’s “good job” on getting there on time, on nailing that sales pitch, and on bringing in those tasty donuts (teambuilding, people!). At an exercise class, it’s “good job!” for being there, for smiling, and for lifting your knees. In fact, in almost everything else you do, the milestones are fast and frequent, the standards are measurable, and the opportunities for validation abound.

But tragically, for the (particularly unpublished) writer? A lot of those opportunities for validation simply aren’t there. There aren’t a ton of milestones, unless you’re forcing your raw, unedited chapters on the unsuspecting—and they are loving them—and that can feel somewhat forced. And if you have artificial milestones in the form of intermittent classroom deadlines, you don’t necessarily have the time to polish a piece until you’re happy with it, and teachers and editors are there to make your writing better, not to let you know what an unequivocal genius you are.

All this makes it terribly tempting to just cater to those who have the power to offer you validation. But then, that would mean you’ve lost sight of why you started writing in the first place—the thing that gives writing itself meaning, and makes it fulfilling. (Unless, of course, you actually started writing in pursuit of validation. At which point: go to! Have at it. And what are you doing reading this article?) So how do you pick up the pieces? How to you give yourself the necessary validation so that you don’t crave it constantly from others? There are no easy answers here, as everyone has entirely different needs that are answered in entirely different ways. But here are a few things that may help.

Remind Yourself of Why You Started

Do you know why you write? Not “to be published”—but what inspired you to write in the first place. Something like, “to see smiles on my grandkids’ faces,” “to give someone the same immersive escape books once gave me,” or “to slap a bunch of words on a piece of paper.” Then, once you have it, write it down and post it on your wall if you can. And whenever you write, focus on that goal.

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Comments (2)

One of the ways I get validation is through networking with other writers. I started a group blog where we keep each other updated on our goals and progress. Of course, optimist that I am, all this really accomplishes is making me feel like a failure when I don't meet my entirely self-appointed, generally unrealistic and meaningless goal. ;)

Posted by: Stewart | Monday February 4, 2013 at 2:06 PM

I write political thrillers and would like to join in with you.
I have two books published, WHO'S KILLING ALL THE LAWYERS and THE JUDAS LIST. A third is in final edits. Both books are on Amazon books and 'LAWYER'S' is also available in E format.


Posted by: A.G.Hayes | Thursday February 14, 2013 at 3:05 PM

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