I often point out how there’s no “one right way.” There’s no one right way to brainstorm, draft, or edit our book. There’s no one right way to query or publish our books. And there’s no one right way to market or promote our books.
We can probably all think of several ways that don’t work—ever. Constant “buy my book” tweets? That definitely doesn’t work. Ditto for just whining about wanting to write a book but never actually putting in the time to do it. *smile*
But there are often several paths that do lead to success. Plotting our story in advance and writing by the seat of our pants can both work. Traditional publishing and self-publishing can both work. Trying to appeal to new readers and focusing on our current readers can both work.
Sometimes we might have better luck with one method over another, but that doesn’t make the other method wrong. The question for which way we should go isn’t about right or wrong but about which way works best for our processes, personality, goals, etc.
The Two Kinds of Encouragement Advice
The same spectrum applies to encouragement advice. We often see two kinds of encouragement in the writing world:
- “Get your butt in the chair and just do it.”
- “Writing is hard. No one cares about your excuses.”
- “Want to be a success? Suck it up and learn (grammar, marketing, entrepreneurship, etc.).”
- “Writer’s block sucks. Maybe try something different to see if that helps you brainstorm.”
- “10 Ideas to Promote Your Book without Feeling Like a Desperate Loser”
- “You can do it! I believe in you!”
Both types of advice can be useful and helpful to people. Neither are wrong.
However, depending on our situation, our mindset, or our mental health, the non-helpful (to us) kind of advice can actually be harmful (to us). And it’s important that we understand ourselves enough to recognize the difference.
How Advice Can Be Harmful
If we’re procrastinating or not working as hard as we could, pushy advice might be just the kick in the pants we need. Or if we’re being whiny about everything we need to learn or about rejections or bad reviews, pushy advice might be a needed reality check.
However, if we’re already working hard and running ourselves ragged, pushy advice might force us into burnout or sickness. Or if we’re already feeling bad about ourselves, pushy advice can make us beat ourselves up even more.
On the other hand, if we’re not in a strong mental or physical state, sympathetic advice lets us know we’re not alone. Or if we’re already doing everything we can, sympathetic advice can assure us that it’s okay to cut ourselves a break once in a while.
Yet at the same time, if we’re procrastinating or letting our fears hold us back, sympathetic advice can enable our excuses. Or if we’re looking for a reason to avoid learning how to edit (or whatever), sympathetic advice might convince us that we don’t need to stretch beyond our comfort zone.
We Need Balance between the Types of Advice
Both kinds of advice can be helpful or harmful, depending on our situation. And only we know what that is.
No one else can tell us what our goals should be. No one else can tell us what our priorities should be. No one else can tell us our budget, our comfort zones, our personality, or our strengths or weaknesses.
The kind of advice we need might change from hour to hour or project to project. We might need a kick in the pants to get us going in the morning and then need sympathetic advice when we get to a hard scene in our story later that afternoon. Or we might need pushy advice about self-editing and sympathetic advice about paying for an editor.
Others don’t know what we need. The tweeted advice that doesn’t work for us might work for others. The blog post that makes us feel bad might be just what others need.
That mismatch is not on the tweeter or the blog post author. They’re trying to help, and if we were in a different place, it might even help us. The mismatch is on us. So what can we do?
We Can Recognize Our Needs and Be Kind to Ourselves
In his sympathetic advice post, he pointed out that we have to be kind to ourselves, but that doesn’t mean giving in or appeasing our excuses:
“Kindness is about understanding one’s limitations but still encouraging growth. It’s like physical or mental therapy — kindness to your bum knee isn’t just letting the leg atrophy and accepting you’ll never use it again. … Kindness is leaving it alone until it heals enough that you can move it. Kindness is pushing a little bit here and there until that knee can move again. Or until you can compensate. Kindness isn’t giving up, but rather, believing that you can do it — and then taking action to make it so.”
We can push ourselves and yet have compassion for falling short. We can strive for success and yet forgive our failures.
Most importantly, we can recognize what type of advice we need right now and let only that type of advice into our sphere of awareness. We can give ourselves permission to ignore the advice that won’t be helpful (and might even be harmful). We don’t have to give that unhelpful advice space inside our heads.
Being kind to ourselves is about being aware of our situation and letting only the right type of advice—for us—into our senses. Being kind is about being aware of the lies we tell ourselves and calling out those lies.
As I said in that post about how to tell a lie or an excuse:
“If someone offered me a million dollars to prove that lie wasn’t true, could I do it?”
The fine line between giving in to our excuses or being kind to ourselves is difficult enough in the best of circumstances. Ditto for the line between wanting more for ourselves and being kind about the effort it takes. Add in advice that’s outright harmful to us with our current situation, and it’s near-impossible to find the right balance.
We need to act as bouncer for our brain and let only the good advice (whatever that means for us this minute) inside. See advice that isn’t good for us right now? We can bookmark it if we think might be useful later, but we don’t have to listen to it this very minute.
As Chuck said, we can be understanding about our limitations and still encourage growth. We have enough negativity in the world to deal with, and we don’t need to give advice that isn’t helpful to us a platform in our thoughts. We don’t have to let anyone else guilt or shame us for our situation, choices, or priorities.
Instead, be kind…to yourself. *smile*
Do you find pushy advice helpful sometimes? And is sympathetic advice helpful to you sometimes as well? Does one type work better on you more often? Are you able to recognize which type of advice you need and filter out the unhelpful type? Do you have other suggestions about how to be kind to ourselves with the right kind of advice?Pin It