I overheard someone talking about housebreaking a puppy the other day. This person had it on good authority (whoever that is) that rubbing a puppy's nose in it when the puppy "had an accident" was the best way to convince the puppy NOT to do that again. He'd been using the method for six weeks with less than stellar results. And at the point of the conversation this "expert" was contemplating dumping the "stupid" puppy off at the local animal shelter. The puppy has my sympathy. I can just imagine the conversation between this unfortunate cutie and his cell mate in animal jail. "I miss the little ones. They cried when I left. But that big one was really weird. He had this pee fetish like you wouldn't believe!" Being me, I intervened and gave the guy some tips on how to convince his puppy that doing his business outside was a great thing to do. I hope he tried it even if he is a weird guy with a pee fetish I think he genuinely liked the dog.
Writers spend a lot of time getting feedback on what they've done. Sometimes we get praise and sometimes we get our noses rubbed in it. Not fun no matter what your species. And while we expect that sort of treatment from editors and agents, when we get it from our fellow writers it can be a bit disconcerting. Or can it?
Some people respond really well to "tough love." The best thing for them can be some drill sergeant yelling at them about how much time they spend on Facebook and how this thing or that thing is not helping their writing. They do much better when someone is shaming them or telling them they aren't trying hard enough to make time for writing. These people work best under a constant harangue of negative reinforcement. I admire people like that. I wish I could be one. I'm not. For me, all of that sniping makes me feel bad about myself. I begin to feel useless. Instead of trying to change what is being said I begin to believe it. And I get discouraged.
Some people, like me, do much better with a cheer leading type encouragement. You can do it. I believe in you. You'll do better tomorrow. Sounds great, right? I try very hard to be that way with other writers. I want people to do well and I want them to know I believe in them. Positive reinforcement. Praise for small victories. Little validations here and there. That works for me. BUT, there are those who think all that does is give a person permission to blow off a bad day or two or twenty with the excuse that they will do better tomorrow. Or the day after that. Or ... You get the picture.
So, what kind of person are you? What makes you plop your butt in that chair and write. Do you write better if you are glowing from someone's praise of your work or do you do better when you get "pissed off" because someone has called you out on your time wasting, your lack of focus, your unproductive behavior? (I say "pissed off" in spite of it being unladylike because frankly, "upset" is what little old ladies get when their cake falls. I get "pissed off!")
Which one works for you? And which one do you use when you feel like a fellow writer needs some encouragement? And where do contests fall in that miasma. Do you enter contests in the hope of positive reinforcement? Do you do it because you are masochistic and want to hear someone say bad things about your writing?
Are you a carrot or a stick? And please don't rub your puppy's nose in his pee. He doesn't know why you are doing it and he is telling other dogs (and possibly cats if he is bilingual) that you are some kind of nut with serious urinary issues. And he's right!