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This Writing Life: Staying Positive

16 June, 2014

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on Twitter recently, in an effort to chat to other writers and keep up to date with publishing news. It’s working, for the most part, but I’ve also noticed a rather vocal sub-set of authors who never have anything positive to say about writing. At all. This ranges from continually complaining – in a rather passive-aggressive manner – that no-one ever reads their work (these are traditionally-published-by-a-large-press authors, I should point out), to grousing about how much hard work promoting themselves is and warning that publishing in general is doomed. I even followed a link to an article, published in a major online short story venue, about how dire every single aspect of a writing career – from just starting out to becoming a genuine celebrity – is.

Now, I know all these tweets and posts have a point. Being a writer, or indeed a creator of any variety, is hard; publishing, as we know it today, may well be doomed; promoting yourself online is a thankless task. I also understand that some of these authors are genuinely trying to help, by letting idealistic new writers know what the publishing industry is really like and what they should expect if they enter it. I’m glad, too, that writers who encounter racism, sexism, homophobia or any other prejudice are speaking out about it, no matter how depressing it may be to read. However, no matter how bad my day becomes, I just can’t bring myself to join these sometimes whiny, often disheartening, usually negative ranks.

Everyone has bad days, bad weeks, months or years. Ranting about it on the internet, though? I don’t know how much that helps. And whilst I can’t always promise to be a shining beacon of light, I’m pretty good at keeping my neuroses off-line these days, rather than opening them up to the world. I’ve talked before on this blog about how I prefer to keep my posts positive and that’s a personal guideline I’m sticking to, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I don’t think online whinging helps me, let alone anyone else. Dwelling on personal misfortune doesn’t accomplish much, other than making me miserable. I become less creative, less willing to engage with the world. Focusing on positivity is, therefore, a personal defence mechanism before anything else.

Secondly, though, I don’t believe dwelling on negativity really achieves anything on a wider scale. Pointing out a hateful post, then countering it with your own positive one and going on to promote something you love? That achieves something. Pointing out that hateful post, then listing every example of internet unpleasantness you can possibly dig out? What does that get you, other than a headache?

I realise this has turned out similar to another post I wrote recently, and that I’ve focused on internet negativity rather than general writing adversity. However, I find this is a subject close to my heart at the moment, and that however naive it sounds, I really wish more people online would spread a little positivity rather than constantly wallowing in the mire.

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