Writing fiction, and many other forms of creative expression, require us to pull from the core of who we are. The intense emotional pain of a strained relationship. The euphoric highs of being in love. The pain of loss. The fear of rejection. The hope we see in the next generation. The peace we feel when relaxing with loved ones. All of it makes it to the page in some form or another. A completed novel is covered in the unique colors and shades of the author’s soul.
So, how does one put something this personal out in to the world without crumbling under the pressure of rejection and criticism? It takes a lot more than the “thick skin” we are told to develop if we are going to make it in the writing world. To me, thick skin simply means you are emotionally adjusted enough to take a hit and keep on going. It’s about endurance and perseverance. While these are wonderful attributes to have, I would argue that they are not the best way to overcome criticism.
In my experience, the best way to overcome criticism comes from layer upon layer of inner growth, outside dialogue, and personal harmony. My blog post, The Speck, talks a lot about what it means to start developing that inner growth. That inner growth alone is not enough. We need teachers. Teachers that land well outside our current scope of learning. Teachers that can push us out of our limited thought environment, and bring new philosophies and worldviews to light. We can only find those teachers by getting out of our comfort zone. By asking questions without having the answer tucked away in the back of our mind. By interacting with people groups who believe something outside of our thought-bubbles. Truth is hidden in almost every viewpoint if we look hard enough.
This combination of inner growth and outside dialogue pushes us closer and closer to finding personal harmony. Many people go through life acting as if personal harmony can be given, but it can’t. It must be found. It is found in the interplay between the grounding we get from our own inner growth, and the displacement we feel when someone from the outside shows us a new way to fly. Perhaps you’ve been floating for too long, thrown amuck by the opinions and insights of others. Take a step back. Ground yourself. Find who you are in this exact moment, and you will find harmony. Or, perhaps you’ve been sitting in your own truth for far too long. You’ve become stagnant, unmoved in your views of the world. Take the time to fully listen to the story of a stranger. Find out what truths they hold that you could never uncover on your own. Take a step forward. See them fly. Challenge your status quo, and you will find harmony.
Wherever you might be, push yourself to find this balance. I find myself out of harmony far too often, and it leaves me open to the crushing weight of rejection and criticism. But, when I’m in a rhythm. When I have found that place between knowing who I am, and challenging who I will become. That is where criticism, rejection, and failure can’t touch us.