The Futility of Negativity and Bitterness

Sometimes as a writer, it’s easy to be negative. It’s easy to let the tide of bad news, of rejection, of endless wait times to hear back on projects you or your agent has pitched – all that stuff, get to you. There are days when I read a review that can make me totally miserable, even when I get two really good ones the same day. There are times I wonder why the heck I’ve chosen a path that involves so much exposure to criticism, LOL. It can get you down, no matter how positive a person you are – everyone has a limit to what they can take.

I’ve noticed, over the years, that some can shake it after allowing for a brief wallow, while others wear negativity and bitterness like a scarf or piece of jewelry.

I’m not pollyanna, I promise. This business gets me down too. Earlier this year I was incredibly unhappy and frustrated with the pace of progress with my writing. It’s easy to let that affect your writing, your pace, your schedule.

At the same time, it’s like the flu – when you wear your bitterness like skin, you infect everyone you touch. Bitterness and negativity do not solve anything. They don’t make things better, in fact, they make them worse not only for you, but for everyone around you.

For instance, on a loop I used to enjoy quite a bit, there’s now a group of authors who simply hate everything. One hates agents, one hates ebooks, one hates the biz in general. So when any negative spin on any subject come up, they’re on it, responding to it one by one until the entire loop drips with negativity. It’s turned a pretty interesting discussion loop into a loop I avoid because I can’t take hearing Author A complain bitterly about agents one more second. I don’t want to infect my day when Author B starts to complain that digital publishing is the reason for piracy. I don’t want a snootfull of toxic, nasty complaints every damned time I turn the computer on.

In the end, if you hate agents, don’t have one. But please don’t assume your perspective is the only one. Also, please don’t assume that spilling the poisonous hate you feel for agents all over everyone else actually *solves* anything. It does not. In the end, if you hate digital publishing, good luck on that – it’s unavoidable, even for NY these days, but you know, if you feel that strongly, I do wish you and your agent luck on keeping it out of your contract. If you hate Facebook, stay off it. If you hate Twitter, stay off it. If you hate blogs, don’t have one, etc.

Bitterness and Negativity are absolutely useless – in an active sense. It travels from your mouth or keyboard to everyone in your vicinity until it totally turns a group toxic and that’s fucked up and selfish. Deal with your shit, but don’t fling it all over the rest of us.

Negativity will not make you a better writer. It won’t make you more friends. It won’t help your career. There is nothing positive about it (pun intended). Shake it off. Make that choice to reject it. Have your wallow and move on. Because if you were so happy with your choices, as you tell everyone every three posts, with your choice not to do XYZ, you don’t have to repeat it in such a negative way. Over and over.

18 comments to “The Futility of Negativity and Bitterness”

  1. Ann Aguirre
    October 26th, 2009 at 8:19 am · Link

    I can’t tell you how much I agree with this.

  2. K.B. Wagers
    October 26th, 2009 at 8:22 am · Link


  3. Debra Key Newhouse
    October 26th, 2009 at 8:52 am · Link

    I cannot tell you how much I needed to hear this. I’m usually pretty positive, but this past week brought a lot of negativity into my life, and I cocooned. Didn’t want to be around it but it still affected my mood. I was already determined to have a good Monday, but your words boosted my positivity like a carnival hammer swung and ringing the bell. Thanks so much!!

  4. Kwana
    October 26th, 2009 at 9:04 am · Link

    From a closet Negative Nelly who can wallow really well great post! So true.

  5. cindy holby
    October 26th, 2009 at 9:09 am · Link

    Thanks! Was Wallowing and saw the link and said hey, why not. Needed it, along with a swift kick in the pants. I dropped lots of loops for the very same reason. I don’t need it flung on me, thank you very much. I also tend to cocoon when hit with bad news and I’ve been hit with quite a bit lately. Sigh….

  6. Christine
    October 26th, 2009 at 9:33 am · Link

    It’s truth. It’s so hard to keep positive when all you hear is bad news. When you don’t see that turn in the corner coming it’s difficult to think it might ever come

  7. Shannon Delany
    October 26th, 2009 at 9:52 am · Link

    Great post, Lauren–Very important we remember that being negative only helps us focus on more negativity and doesn’t help us move forward.

    I agree, the business we’re in can be frustrating at times and a momentary wallow’s okay, but the business has at least as many ups as downs. We just need to try and focus on what moves us up, too.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. katiebabs
    October 26th, 2009 at 9:58 am · Link

    These people who constantly harp on the bad and are always negative will never learn. I can’t be around those types in person and on line.

  9. Jo K
    October 26th, 2009 at 10:00 am · Link

    😀 HERE HERE!

    Fill your day with positive things — don’t spend all your energy on things you don’t enjoy because then you’ll be overdrawing for things you do enjoy = tired, grumpy and susceptible to all kinds of yuck you don’t want!

  10. Saranna DeWylde
    October 26th, 2009 at 10:15 am · Link

    Excellent post! It is so hard sometimes to stay positive, but that’s why we need to surround ourselves with people we can lean on and who in turn, can lean on us.

    I know lately I’ve had a few things that seem to be just chipping at my goodwill like a jackhammer and it’s hard not to just spew venom at these people, but I want to sell. I want to be happy and neither of those things are going to happen if I spew chunky Appletini bitterness everywhere I go.

    Not to mention, I’ve seen enough bitterness and misery in my day job working as a corrections officer to last me my next two incarnations.

    I’m glad to see the other side of the pendulum swing up into the sunshine. Sans the sacharrine, of course. *grin*

  11. RKCharron
    October 26th, 2009 at 10:19 am · Link

    Hi Lauren 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.
    Do you find music helps you keep positive?
    Love & Best Wishes,

  12. Melissa Blue
    October 26th, 2009 at 10:21 am · Link

    Oh, I thought it was just me who noticed the oncoming of naysayers. There should be like a warning or something. If you are happy, joyful, or any way shape or form in a good mood–run for the exit now! Sigh. I’ve seen the kind of disagreements/debates where both parties could have walked away with a new perspective, go downhill in two posts flat. So, yes even something simple like that can make you walk away with a little negativity ruining your day.

  13. Anya Bast
    October 26th, 2009 at 11:24 am · Link

    Great post! Everyone has a wallow now and then, but there’s a time to pull yourself out of it and get back to work.

  14. Lesli Richardson
    October 26th, 2009 at 11:39 am · Link

    I tend to “unplug” frequently when I’m in a good writing jag. I ignore loops and only check email once or twice a day. I’m at that point where honestly, I hate reading the news anymore and will frequently avoid it. If the world blows up, I’m sure someone will tell me on Twitter. LOL

    As far as letting myself get knocked down, it happens occasionally, but I’ve decided to take the approach, like rejections, instead of seeing a “no” in my inbox, I see a “next!” and think the one who does accept it will be THE right one. I mean yes, it’s easier now that I am published and have reviews to blow off negativity, but also looking at this as a business, where you know it’s not possible to please every single customer every single time, that makes it easier. I don’t take it personally, I just chalk it up to numbers and look at all the positives to boost me up again. LOL

  15. anny cook
    October 26th, 2009 at 12:27 pm · Link

    A most excellent post! Thank you for the reminder. I’m pretty much a hermit because I won’t deal with the negative. Some people can’t stand any happiness around them.

  16. Mary G
    October 26th, 2009 at 5:04 pm · Link

    Very thoughtful post. I’m a pretty positive person although I can have my moments.
    I usually just have my little swearing moment & then get back to being cheerful. The other way is just self defeating. On a positive note, I finally saw the cover of Insatiable on the Happily Forever After blog
    (couldn’t see on your site) & OMG is all I can say. Yummy.

  17. Collette
    October 26th, 2009 at 6:51 pm · Link

    Thanks for the post Lauren. I think it definitely applies more broadly to life as well as a career. Fortunately, or unfortunately, my negativity is usually directed inward. I guess at least I keep it off the Internets! 😀

  18. Gennita Low
    October 31st, 2009 at 4:31 pm · Link

    Thanks for the post. I’m trying. Really.


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