The Attention Whore

I’m an attention whore. There, I said it. I’m the one who puts up a post on Facebook then checks back every half hour to see how many likes it got. Or after I write one of these articles, I’ll be back every few hours to check on it. Did people like it? Did anyone share? How many views did it get? Oh man, no one liked it, what did I do wrong now?

I know, it’s kind of sickening–like a dog begging for attention from strangers in the park. The thing is, much as I say that I don’t care about the response, or as much as my logical mind tells me I’m being ridiculous, it matters to me.

So perhaps it wasn’t the wisest idea to put one of my pieces up for a monthly Critique Circle event called The Hook.

The Hook is a simple concept–put up the first snippet of your story, up to 1000 words. Others read it, select the paragraph where they lost interest, and give a reason. Both the author and the critters are anonymous, with the idea that this will encourage more honest feedback. And believe me, honesty is only the start of some of the feedback. There’s a reason you’re warned to participate only if you have a thick skin.

Obviously, my own work wasn’t the paragon of stunning writing I’d built it up to be in the privacy of my mind. While there were some who liked it, others couldn’t connect with the character, or wrote it off after the first sentence or two as bad writing. And the attention whore in me despairs, because everyone should love it. I think it’s great, so why aren’t they raving over it? Once you’ve poured so much of yourself into a work, it goes beyond what’s wrong with it, and moves into what’s wrong with me.

But once I’d moved past the self-flagellation, I found it to be a very eye-opening experience. Beyond the useful gems of advice I sifted out, it was a strong reminder of how subjective writing is. There was one piece up for review that I thought had a brilliantly original voice and fascinating premise. However, it was summarily dismissed by others as confusing, within the first few paragraphs. Another piece I found bland had some rather enthusiastic responses. If the first sentence was lengthy, there would be people who deemed it too flowery; but if it was short and in the midst of action, then it would be criticised for having no context and no connection to the character. People stopped reading because of a single punctuation error, or a misused word.

Of the pieces I loved, if they took on board all the feedback, they would lose a lot of what drew me to them in the first place. Funny what objectivity can do for your own clarity. I realised that if I let every single comment carry equal weight, if I let them get under my skin, it would destroy me as a writer.

It would be all too easy to lose my unique voice in trying to write for everyone, or become so defensive that I also ignored feedback with valid points. Each piece of writing needs a vision. It needs a purpose. And whatever feedback I took on board, it had to be with that purpose in mind.

So I’m going to stop my constant checking. I’m going to stop searching for that instant gratification from others. I want to write boldly and honestly; to have no fear of others when I write about the things closest to my heart. My writing will never be perfect, and someone will always find a reason to hate it. But it will be unashamedly me.


Leanne Yong is an aspiring author who is working on her second young adult novel. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and a journal chronicling her latest foray into novel writing. She would also like you to note the “Like” button just below that’s begging to be clicked.
Advertisements

7 thoughts on “The Attention Whore

  1. Great post; and no, I am not just pandering to the attention whore. I’ve spent my career as a writer/creative director in ad agencies. I am used to the whole world, including someone’s aunt Millie, having an opinion of my work. My skin is now as thick as a rhino’s.

    But when you think about it, everything is subective. I like a movie and you don’t. You like a restaurant and I don’t. We both don’t like the same book, but for totally different reasons.

    For those of us on the receiving end of ‘opinions’ I think the key is to learn to keep what’s helpful and useful and ignore the rest. It gets easier to do with time. I’m living proof.and the other thing is, never take it personally.

  2. I think there is a bit of attention whore in all of us….it is a thin line between wanting to be loved and making use of constructive criticism, but hey, thats a writer’s life I guess…just keep on doing it…it’ll be fine….

  3. I understand what you mean when you say that “everyone has to like it”. I think it’s because of the psychological aspect that negative criticism weighs more than the positive. I read some time ago that it takes three positive comments to negate a single bad one. I don’t really think it’s about thick skin against “harsh” comments. I think it’s more about how it is perceived, which, I guess, translates into thick skin.

    When there is an abundant amount of feedback coming your way. Find something you can actually see and agree with. That is because you can’t please everyone. I like what you said at the end where “someone will always find a reason to hate it”. It’s absolutely true. Especially when someone is asking for feedback, people try really hard to find something that could be improved–so they wouldn’t seem incompetent in what they’re asked to do. It’s really about not taking things personally but acknowledging it and possibly taking it into account.

    Sorry for the long post. I just have a lot to say about the subject. :/

    • I love getting long comments, because it means you’re also passionate about it. 😉

      That’s really great advice, by the way. You’re right – a lot of being thick-skinned is learning how to take and evaluate the feedback. Which is much easier said than done when it’s something close to your heart! But it’s an important skill, nonetheless.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s