Why do writers crave validation?

Being a creative is a great gift, regardless of whether we are a painter, a sculptor, fabric designer, or writer. We are born with this desire to bring what is in our imagination to life, regardless of whether it is a painting, a song, a bolt of fabric, or a novel. When we create something, we bare our souls to the world, leave ourselves wide open to criticism and misunderstanding. Our biggest critics are often ourselves. I would challenge anyone to find a piece of artwork, writing, music or design that its creator is absolutely 100% happy with. Those pieces of our imagination are often filled with flaws to us. Someone could be brought to tears by the beauty of a painting, or the notes of a song and yet the person responsible for that creation will see only its imperfections. Left to a creative person, nothing would ever be finished. There is always the need to change, add more, improve again and again. And yet we have to learn to accept the creation is not good enough in our minds, but let it go. It is as good as it can be. Now it must go out into the world as it is so another piece of work can begin.

For a creative person this is torture. We know the piece could, should be good enough and yet it is never perfect. Thus, the words of someone admiring the piece, enjoying the writing, become oh so important. Getting accepted for publication by a ‘proper’ publisher, being printed in a magazine, shortlisted for a competition becomes the pinnacle of validation.

This is a sham. To be published in a magazine, win a prize, or start the process of being published by a ‘proper’ company, all you work has to do is attract the interest of one person. The editors of these writer’s meccas have preferences for what they like to read. If your writing fulfils those preferences a writer stands a chance of getting published or winning a prize. However, someone could be unlucky and produce really good work but just not attract the interest of anyone. That doesn’t mean it is not good, or the quality of the writing is not up to scratch.

We are so lucky that the validation of those editors is no longer a gateway to being published. Amazon and other sites have made it possible for books to be produced without having to battle through lines of editors and critics. That doesn’t mean that any old rubbish can be cobbled together and someone will buy it. Perhaps in the beginning of independent publishing, but not now. Book buyers are far more discerning. A badly written, and shoddily produced book will not sell. So, if you are an author who is publishing independently and producing professional quality books that are selling, you can be sure that you have some talent for writing. Authors who are publishing independently can get the validation they seek from book sales and from good reviews. This is real evidence that someone likes your work. However, when the ego is fragile and validation is desperately needed, it probably helps not to read poor or critical reviews. No one needs those. Read the good, four and five star reviews and look at your book sales. That should be all the validation anyone needs to prove to themselves the quality of their writing.