The Lovely Few And the Unhappy Others

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So here’s a bit of wisdom you can apply, not just in writing, but in every aspect of your life.

Don’t expect to make everyone happy. You won’t. You can’t. And frankly, it’s not worth the price you have to pay to even try. In the end EVERYONE ends up miserable or unsatisfied.

And I’m not telling you this from the point of view of somebody who has successfully practiced this principle. This is probably one of the hardest lessons I’m struggling to learn right now.

Hear me out though and I’ll tell you from experience when you try to juggle everyone’s wants and needs you have to do one of two things.

A: Deprive everyone of what they want

or

B: Give everybody only a very little bit of what they want and hope it will be enough

I tried this in writing. I tried writing things I thought my associates would like but also a general audience would enjoy and it did not go well. I was unhappy, my friends were unhappy, and if I tried to publish that thing I knew the readers would be unhappy. The characters didn’t fit, the plot twists were sporadic, and worst of all was the constant flip-flop of the genre itself.

Needless to say, I have burned that script. And the pen I wrote it with. Trust me, it was for the best.

Sometimes it’s feasible. It’s a rarity but sometimes there is these precious moments when all around everyone is satisfied. More times than not, you will have to make some people unhappy and that’s okay. Your purpose on this planet is not to please everyone.

Unfortunately this means you have to choose. And that’s the part nobody likes. It’s like watching the Good Son. Seems like we’re all in Susan’s boat sometimes, trying to decide if we save Henry or Mark because we’re not going to be able to pull them both up.

Maybe not quite as extreme, but you get the idea.

Don’t get personal

There will be time you will feel obligated to put aside what you think is best and do what something that someone else wants you to do. There is a time and place for that, but there is also a time and place when you need to reassert that you are the captain now. This is especially true of people who aren’t in the profession and yet try to tell you how to do your job anyway.

Actually, in general, it’s best to avoid those kinds of people. Unless they are related, in which, smile and nod and take nothing they say to heart.

Get your priorities straight

Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s writing, art, a home project etc, know what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Map it out. If someone tries to get you to deviate from that plan, consider whether the plan is good and then proceed as normal. Anybody you seek advise from should be there to help you achieve your goals (as long as they’re good goals) and not force you to reconstruct your entire plot to suit their personal preferences.

Remember that you will be the one to endure the consequences, not them

People might try to pressure you. Stand your ground. This is your life and your work, not theirs. Ultimately it is you who will have to make the decisions and take responsibility for them, so it’s really not fair when these people try to live out their own desires through you. I will say this again; you are not obligated to wreck your dreams for them.

Sometimes you’re better off not even opening the door

You might be tempted to seek approval from certain people, but look, you are only human. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, don’t agree to anything you don’t want to do, and certainly do not overload yourself with other people’s ideas, especially when they suppress your own. If you have to not bring up the topic in front of these people then so be it. Avoid the conversation if you can and if you can’t, be nice, but let them know where you stand on the issue. Or distract them with videos of cute dogs, that has actually worked for me a few times.

There is not easy solution to this problem. If you find one, let me know. You don’t have destroy your relationships with people, but you do have to be strong and remain true to yourself. No, not everyone is going to like your work. Not everyone will be happy with it. That doesn’t always mean they’re terrible people or that your work sucks. It just means we’re all human beings with our own minds and opinions.

If you’re a writer, then do this; accept that fact that some people will hate your novel, some people will love it, and some people will not care at all about it. But please, I beg you, don’t try to write a story everyone will love, you are more like to come out with something everyone will hate instead. Unless your goal is to get people to collectively agree on something (in which case, good on you I guess), then you are better off selecting your audience and aim to hit their wants and needs. If you come out with a product that’s naturally so good other people outside the target love it as well, then that’s great. More then likely however you won’t be getting the Harry Potter fans if you’re writing the next Gone With the Wind. You see what I mean?

To break it down simply; you do you and if you find a better way of doing it, then do that. Figure out who you need to please and who you are able to please, and work from there. As simple as it sounds, it’s a lot harder in practice. But eventually you will find the balance in it.

And the moment I do, I will let you know.

Learn A Little. Know A lot.

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  • Astronaut
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Detective
  • Mechanic
  • Lawyer
  • Journalist
  • Psychologist
  • Storm Chaser
  • Doctor
  • Air pilot
  • Neurosurgeon
  • Scuba diving instructor
  • Treasure Hunter
  • Sea Captain

This is a complete list of all the things I wanted to be when I grew up (unless pirate constitutes as a legitimate career, in which case scratch that on there as well). The way I see it is that I way too many ambitions so I just decided to become them all- and thus became a writer.

As a writer I can turn myself into anything. Or at least, I can pretend to. I can give you just enough facts to make myself the expert, convince you that I am a doctor or an air pilot. And as a writer it’s sort of my job.

To do this, I have to know things. I have to know a little about a lot and sometimes, know a lot about a lot. Now I have a natural-born desire for learning but there are those who might find such things daunting. And there a few things you much watch out for. Here a few things I find helps when it comes to research.

One: Make sure you’re getting information from credible sources and not just a few people on Reddit.

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People become experts for a reason. They took the time and money and energy to study, research, evaluate, and learn their craft. Those who haven’t done this probably don’t know what they’re talking about and are going off info they heard from someone a while back or something they read on one article from Facebook several years ago, never doing any further research. Which brings me to my next point.

Two: Never Ever EVER EVER get all your information from just ONE source

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It seems easy. One article, one book, and bam! You’re the expert. No.

No. No. No!

Sometimes people are wrong. Even people with good credentials may not have all the facts. Be sure to run your ideas through multiple sources and get your info from a wide variety of experts. Confirm what you read. Make sure it is fact and not opinion.

Three: Write it down.

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You’ll forget.

You may think you won’t, but you will.

I know we all hated writing reports back in school, but honestly sometimes it helps. Not only will you have all your information in one place, but you’ll retain it better.

Four: Read Books.

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Sometimes getting off the internet is good. Studies have shown people who read physical books vs. reading on electronics actually retain more and have an easier time concentrating. Just go ahead and give it a try.

Also books tend to be more in-depth and provide more information than blog posts or articles. But I will recommend magazines as well. Things like National Geography and such have some very helpful resources in them. But like I said, always check your facts with multiple sources.

Five: Talk to people

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Writing a story about a doctor? Try finding one to talk to. Have a list of questions ready. Interview some people. Ask them what their job is like. Sometimes that is way better than any book or online article. Need help finding people? Try social media. Just throw it out there. You may get some responses.

Six: YouTube Tutorials

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Yes, sometimes they can be helpful. Once again, verify who you’re learning from. Don’t just click on any random tutorial. Check your source. I would recommend doing this if you feel you just need some light knowledge or if you want a visual seeing something done. I know I used this to view footage of sword fighting for my medieval fantasy and I’ve used this method to watch a few dance instructions (and do not ask why, I swear it was just for research).

Seven: Take classes

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If you want or have the ability to, then there is a ton of courses online you can take. You might not get a degree from it, but you’ll at least have the knowledge behind you. There are many places on the internet offering free or cheap means of learning a trade or skill. I took one in psychology which helped a lot with character development. Sometimes you can find some old textbooks, just make sure they’re not too outdated.

You’re never too old to learn. In fact, to grow up means you have to learn. Our brains are wired to be experience new things and retain information, how much information depends on each person, but in general we all have the ability to keep progressing. Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving. And you never know when it might come in handy for something else besides writing.

Knowledge is a weapon and I intend to be formidably armed

Terry Goodkind