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Humility Is Needed as a Writer

Updated on September 5, 2017

You might be a great writer, but greatness is always in the eye of the beholder.

Every great author has a group that thinks their writing stinks. Greatness is an opinion, and you’ll never find 100% agreement. Some will like your work, and others will hate it. Guess what? Humility is needed here.

Lack of Humility with Authors

I recently read where a now famous author took over a decade to get a book published and that was after more than a dozen different works submitted. His first books were rejected over and over. Now, he sells millions and millions on his name alone. No matter what he writes, it hits the best seller list. What did he do a couple of years ago? He criticized a new author who made it big on her first novel. He said it was pure luck and her work was not that good. Whoa! There was a time when no one thought your stuff was worth publishing. Shut up!

Humility is essential for a writer. First of all, you’ll be rejected a lot. If your name is not well known or you don’t have a contact in a publishing company, odds are your work will be tossed in a pile to be ignored. There is little chance of instant success. Second, once the editors get a hold of your book, you might feel like they are attacking you. No, they are trying to make it better. Your words are not perfect the first time you write them, nor the fifth time you go over them. Third, you’ll find there are bad reviews. You’ll get them. Not everyone will like your story or your style. You’re not the all-loving author. No one is.

Think about it. Charles Dickens is one of the most proclaimed writers ever. Do you like his work? A lot will say no, maybe even you. He didn’t appeal to everyone. Tom Clancy is not loved by everyone (though I might have to fight you over that one). Stephanie Meyers has found recent fame with her novels, but large numbers don’t like her work. Then why do it?

Because you love writing! You should write because you feel the urge and you have a passion for it. Don’t write to please anyone. Write to please yourself. Also, who says the negative ones are right? It’s all opinion. As long as you are happy with your work, keep writing.

You might think I saying that because I’m not in that position. Really? How would you feel if close family members read your stuff and said, “It’s alright but not my style”? What if they didn’t read any of your stuff because it just wasn’t bestselling material yet? Welcome to my world.

I know I’m not a writer who will be proclaimed as one of the greatest. I’m not trying to be. I know I can improve. And even if I did become as famous as Stephen King, John Grisham, or Danielle Steele, I would always find areas of improvement.

Do you want to succeed as a writer? Have humility but don’t let it take you where determination and confidence can’t reach you.

What is Humility?

Webster defines humility as "freedom from pride or arrogance". Dr. Austin in Psychology Today describes the humble person as one who "keeps her accomplishments, gifts, and talents in a proper perspective. She has self-knowledge, and is aware of her limitations as an individual and as a human being. But humble individuals are also oriented towards others, they value the welfare of other people and have the ability to "forget themselves" as well, when appropriate."

Humility is not thinking you or your work is perfect. It is not expecting praise for all you do. It is realizing you can always improve and that other people are as talented if not more so than you are.

How to Increase It Within Yourself

Humility seems to come natural for some people. For others, it is something that has to be worked for, but it is worth if you do.

So, how do you do this? How can you increase humility within yourself? Here are a few ideas:

  • Praise Other People - Look at what others do well. If you cooked a dish for a potluck dinner, don't expect everyone to praise your dish. Go to others and praise them for their delicious dishes. Make it about anyone but you.
  • Look to Improve Yourself - How can you make yourself a better person...a better writer? Take writing classes. See what you can learn. You don't know have it all down right yet. There is a lot to learn. Keep yourself the student and continually look for ways to learn more about your craft.

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