How to Develop a Thick Skin by Debb Stanton
Please welcome new guest writer, Debb Stanton, sharing about her writing life and how to develop a thick skin as a writer.
In Writer’s Fun Zone I loved the November 2, 2018 post by Catharine Bramkamp called, “The Journey is the Story.” Catharine said, “Your character needs to be real, flawed and struggle just as a reader would, just like a reader could.” This was really helpful information to use in editing my novel.
If I were a character in a book, my flaw would be that of needing to grow a thick skin.
In a fictitious book called, The Dictionary According to Ms. Stanton, I’d define the term “thick skin” as, “Confidence in one’s own abilities; a person’s ability to withstand arrows and barbs thrown at them; the ability to not take everything personally.”
Spelling and Writing
I started my young life as the girl who knew how to spell everything. Studying for the weekly spelling test on Fridays was unheard of for me; I aced each one without a problem. I didn’t think my (now that I think of it, amazing) spelling ability was a gift. Because I was taught that I wasn’t anybody special (encouragement was nonexistent in my household), I thought everyone knew how to spell fairly well.
When I was in eighth grade, my writing teacher submitted two of my compositions to the town’s newspaper. They were published! My parents smiled upon reading them in the newspaper and handed the paper to me, but that was it. No “good job.” No “we’re proud of you.”
Nonexistent praise kept company with zero encouragement in my house.
I didn’t have thick skin at that time. Had my parents not liked what I wrote in the compositions, I would’ve sensed their dislike, and I would’ve melted into a pile of tears.
As an adult at work in a medical clinic, I was asked a question about how to spell something, but I had never heard the word before. I guessed correctly. I have never heard that word since, but their question got me thinking. Maybe I am unusual; maybe I do have a gift. It certainly seemed like it, since my constant dream of all time was to be a writer when I grew up. All I knew was, I loved to write stories and poems. They were fun to work with. When I wrote, my vivid imagination flew on the wings of contentment.
I knew I had it bad for writing when, in my forties and single, I began to skip meals because I simply forgot to eat…instead, I was writing down my stories. I never felt hunger pains due to being so wrapped up in my writing.
After I recovered from breast cancer, I was very grateful so started a blog. I chose the theme of positivity was the theme, and that was the warm feeling readers said they got from reading my blog.
Most of my friends kindly listened when I talked about how much fun I had writing my blog and the discoveries I made along the way. What was surprising to me was they didn’t share or understand my joy. This made me angry. Since I had now grown to love myself and give myself the encouragement that was missing in my childhood, my friends’ lack of enthusiasm was a puzzle that seemed to have no answer.
As a people-pleaser by nature, I still had a thin skin. If someone disagreed with me, I deemed it to be my fault and that I had the wrong belief.
My life turned full circle.
Before I didn’t think I had a talent. Then, when I discovered I did have a talent, I was very irritated when people didn’t get excited about it. One day a friend of mine told me something very revealing. At last, here was the answer to my puzzle!
“Debb,” he said, “I don’t understand your love for blogging, but I like to hear you talk about it because it gives me joy to see you have joy.”
I thought about that statement. Then I felt guilty for probably having a glazed look in my eyes when I listened to him talk about something he enjoyed. There were people who didn’t know the first thing about writing a sentence, let alone wanting to write a story. Who knew!
I then began to appreciate being so enamored with writing. Once I understood that non-writers love things that I despise (like sewing), I didn’t feel a responsibility to convert everyone over to my way of thinking about writing. I didn’t think that I was wrong to love writing, and so started my growth into a thick skin.
Here’s what I discovered. Perhaps it can help you too.
Six Ways To Develop A Thick Writer’s Skin
1. Have a meeting with you, yourself, and you. Write down the reasons you’d like a thick skin.
2. Ask yourself if you deserve to have a thick skin. If necessary, list your assets (good qualities) and ways you contribute to your own well-being. Yes — brag on yourself!
3. Think of a hobby you would never enjoy and write it down.
4. Ask yourself if it is fine for someone else to enjoy that hobby. If your answer is “yes”, you’re on the right path.
5. Give yourself permission to be who you were created to be. We are not meant to be clones of everyone else. It would not be a good scene if we were all alike.
5a. Write a mission statement about you and what you believe about yourself.
6. People’s opinions of you or your writing are just that: opinions. Only if they are helpful to you should you consider opinions to be facts
I can tolerate seeing eyes glazed over now, because I have a thick skin. My next project is getting a thick skin for other areas of my life. Wish me well!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Debb Stanton is an author, writer of poems and stories, breast cancer survivor, a curious person, and an introvert or extrovert, depending upon the day. She’s the author The Positive Side of Cancer: My Faith and Hope Journey with Breast Cancer and is working on a novel. More about Deb at her site: http://www.debbiestanton.com/.