The Desire for Validation, by Michele Weber Hurwitz

As a writer, a big part of my working life is intertwined with validation. Is what I wrote any good? Will it sell? Will readers like it? What will reviewers say? It's natural, of course, to worry about these aspects. Writers want to be praised and respected, complimented and lauded. Awards are wonderful things. Best-seller lists catapult you into another category. And, admit it, we all secretly have the book-being-made-into-a-movie dream.

But what about when these things don't happen? A manuscript you believe in gets rejected numerous times. Your work gets published but sales are dismal, and worse, no one's even bothered to review it on Amazon, not even your mom. You get lambasted by a reviewer (dare I say Kirkus?).

One important lesson I've learned in almost ten years in the business is that much of the validation we receive is 1) external, and 2) out of our control. It comes and goes with the wind, and there's usually not much we can do to affect the outcome.

This piece of advice wasn't shared by anyone in particular, rather, it's something I came to know and understand by writing and publishing, and by being a part of the children's writing community. I  know that unless I find a balance and "center," and learn to rely more on internal validation rather than external, then I won't be able to weather the strongest, most punishing wind.

It's most and always about the work. About the creating. Making something, where nothing existed before, except in your beautifully scrambled brain, pulsing with ideas and thoughts and leaps of faith.

I remind myself of that every day, because those external factors can be daunting, and at times, like a black cloud hovering above my desk.

I know a debut author who stopped writing after a pretty awful review. Her book was published by a big house, and I'd seen it displayed under "new releases" in my local library. But she couldn't overcome the sting of the critical, harsh words about what she'd created, the words and story from her heart and soul. It upsets me greatly to think that one negative review stopped this writer in her tracks. While I have many positive, inspirational quotes hanging above my writing desk, I also have one that says: "Internal, not external." That, I think, is the most important piece of advice in writing. Actually, in anything.

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of three -- soon to be four -- middle grade novels, published by Wendy Lamb Books (Penguin Random House) and Simon & Schuster's Aladdin imprint. Find her online at


  1. I needed this post today. That's awful about that debut author. I subscribe to Dan Blank's newsletter, and today, he said this: "Creating is complicated. Sharing is complicated." That's so true.


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