Stop Trying To Please Everyone

When I was younger, I was very careful about what I said and always feared that something I said was taken out of context or seen as offensive. I still think about that often now, and take great pains to ensure that I don’t come across as offensive when speaking with people.

Writing…that’s another story.

I thought about it briefly when I first started writing BLAQUE. Then I shook my head and told myself to forget about it. The only ones I could see getting “offended” by the book would be the North Korean government, and I doubt they would even read it. If anyone else gets offended for any number of reasons, it is their problem, not mine.

Someone will get offended by something you write. It is almost a given. Someone will have a problem with a certain character, scene, or maybe even the whole freaking piece. Here’s the thing to remember: if you spend all of your time trying to make everyone happy, that book, poem, song, or screenplay you’re working on will never be completed.

At my first writing conference, I was eating dinner with about seven or eight other writers, all at varying stages of their writing careers. One writer had been to this conference multiple times. The writer stated that they had been editing their novel for eight years. Editing, not writing. The book was already written. Me, being my typical non-PC self when it comes to writing, asked why they hadn’t submitted it to an agent or publisher yet. The writer answered that they had gone to several freelance editors, and each editor wanted changes made. So the author spent close to a decade changing the book to appease not one, but several freelance editors.

Perhaps I am way too innocent in this profession; maybe I am too new. Whatever the case, I found this writer’s story both unfortunate and upsetting. I made a silent vow to myself at that moment to never let anyone have so much power over my creativity that I am ground to a halt in my writing career goals. The moment that someone other than the writer themselves has that power, you can kiss that project goodbye.

Of all people, the artist must believe in their work the most. This means that you tell the story that YOU want to tell through your work, not what everyone else wants you to tell. People will see what they want to see and like (or hate) what they want to like. That’s fine because art tends to allow that. As long as the artist knows what their work is about and is happy with it, everything else is either icing on the cake or a mere slight annoyance.

I say all of that to say this: Don’t focus on pleasing everyone, focus on pleasing yourself. At least that way, the only person you have to blame is yourself.

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