A few days ago I met up with a friend and colleague who’s just finished the first draft of the book she’s been working on for more than a year.
She was delighted to have completed the manuscript on time, and even more importantly, feels elated by the way it has turned out.
Having not written anything longer than articles and blog posts before, initially she wasn’t sure if she had what it takes to write a full length book.
Now she’s done so in a way that feels to her like “mission accomplished”, and whatever happens from this point on, nothing can take away her strong sense of creative achievement.
In a recent post on The Creative Power of Deadlines, I shared my own experience of feeling an immense degree of internal validation when I completed the manuscript for my book Conscious Writing.
There’s nothing quite like the inner sense that you’ve created something from nothing in a way that’s delivered the deepest and most authentic expression of your message in the best way you’re able to at the time.
It provides a solid foundation for all that follows when it comes to sharing your work in the world and the inevitable challenges that are part of that process.
Internal validation also sets you free from any attachment you may have to a “perfect” outcome and paves the way for you to enjoy writing over the long term based on your own interpretation of success.
Compare this with the fact that a high percentage of writers and artists of all kinds feel the need for someone else to validate their work.
Writers often seek approval from just about anyone including friends and family who undoubtedly have the best of intentions yet naturally have no chance of objectivity and unwittingly crush fledgling projects with careless comments.
Agents and publishers are an obvious source of external validation for writers and it’s completely understandable that aspiring authors are keen to receive the approval of publishing professionals.
I’m certainly not saying that there’s anything wrong with that in principle; it’s wonderful when that kind of confirmation leads to books being signed up and successfully published.
However, when you rely on external validation in order to keep showing up to do your creative work, the chances are that sooner or later your sensitivity to the reactions of others will go into overdrive.
At this stage, the smallest and most insignificant detail can be easily misinterpreted and become a major block to progress.
This has become the reality for countless people I’ve worked with who’ve spent months and sometimes years in the creative wasteland feeling “there’s no point” because someone once made a comment that was hijacked by their inner critic.
Yet with the right guidance and support to release the doubts and align with a deeper level of inner truth, the process of creation is experienced as an immensely rewarding end in its own right.
With that in place, you’re free to explore your vision of what comes next without any sense of judgement or fear and with a healthy degree of equanimity.
The Take Away
The take away here is to realize that what you think and feel about your writing and the other ways you express yourself creatively is fundamentally more important than the subjective opinion of anyone else.
By all means embrace the boost to your confidence that comes from positive feedback about your work but avoid the feeling that you need that external validation.
In my experience the best way to do so is to strengthen the connection to your core purpose through adopting a conscious approach that draws you out of fear and into alignment.
This is how to set yourself free to create and write what you’re here to create and write in an increasingly self-contained way so that external validation becomes the icing on the cake.
How do you feel about the balance between internal and external validation for your writing and creative expression generally? Please share your comments or ask a question below. Thank you!