“Oh, you should never show people your first drafts.” — A writer friend of mine.
“You should never speak in absolutes about writing.” — Me, now.
What I said at the time was a more lengthy specification about how I only meant I was showing people early versions of my newsletters, my blog posts, those kinds of writing — implicitly agreeing with his dogmatic belief.
People —other writers or readers— will always have a lot to say about how you should practise your craft, and they’ll always deliver these statements with a high level of conviction. These statements will always be true, worth defending, and prudent to follow without exception, to these people. And I say: strike down these statements with prejudice. You want one principle to adhere to for your benefit? Don’t listen to what other people say — especially those with conviction. Strengthen the skill of discounting others’ opinions — because that’s just what they are, despite their framing. It’s a skill worth having sharp. Do not engage — merely internally repel any such prescriptive ideas. I do not say this to deny any method or exercise used to hone one’s abilities —shield all the first drafts you like— but I say this to banish those voices. Those voices of doubt. Artists have enough doubt cultivated by their own insecurities and the great odds stacked against them, they certainly have no need of uninvited naysayers to join the party. And the doubt-seeding comments can be more than that when they come from a person —a friend— that you admire or respect. From those people, these comments can become nearly hurtful, and all the more difficult to deflect.
Work. Do the thing. Be an artist. Do it just for you, your way. Learn in the process. Get better. And maybe —maybe— somewhere down the line, others might like your work too. Or they won’t. Either way: FUCK ’EM.
Ear plugs in and blinders on,
B.F. Greeno, aka
telling you to not listen to others by asking you to listen to me
P.S. This was a fucking first draft, bitch.