Most folks go about their lives without worrying about the judgement of others.

Sure, there might be the occasional performance review at work, and your future in-laws may look you up and down but, for the most part, you get to be your own judge and jury.

Except, of course, if you’re a writer.

In our world, editors, agents, book reviewers and Amazon commenters all get their turn to praise or bury you. Critique group colleagues pick our work apart. And readers have the final say, by buying — or ignoring — our books. We live with the awareness that, no matter how much we protest that we only write for ourselves, we are dependent upon the whims and opinions of others to make our way.

No wonder so many of us are emotional wrecks.

1. Be a Writer, Not an Author.

I’ve always tried to make a distinction between “writer” and “author”. The first implies a desire to pursue an activity. The second implies a desire to have others sanction that activity by disseminating one’s work. There’s nothing wrong with thinking of oneself as an author, of course. But it’s often useful to revert to the former in order to gain perspective and overcome self-doubt.

2. Ignore the Haters

I’ll admit it: I want to be liked. I wish I could brush off criticism or rudeness, but that’s not something that comes naturally to me. Twenty lovely compliments can easily be overshadowed by one nasty e-mail.

3. The Pimple Rule

I named this after the best advice I received as a spotty teenager — “No one cares about your pimples because they’re too busy worrying about their own.”

4. Attain Non-Attachment by Being Prolific.

The Buddha was sure on to something. Attachment is truly a dangerous thing. Especially for writers.

5. Protect (and ultimately subvert) Your Self-Image By Writing in Unfamiliar Genres

One last visit with the Buddha before we part. This time, it’s about shattering your self-image to free you of fear.

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