‘Tough skin’ is a phrase many writers will be familiar with. It’s the notion that you should be prepared to separate your emotions from your ideas when they end up not being used, or you’re told they’re wrong.
This is odd as writers are expected to explore things from every angle with love and curiosity, only to shut their emotions off when things don’t go their way.
Caring and not caring
As with all professions, in writing it helps to believe in yourself and your abilities. No one will ever believe you’re good if you don’t believe you’re good.
All writing starts as ideas, so you should also believe in your ideas. But when those ideas get shot down – which can happen a lot – you’re supposed to have a ‘tough skin’ and feel nothing at all.
Devotion vs. devoid
There’s something a little weird about being told to devote yourself to the world of writing while also being expected to not care when you’re told your work is wrong.
It’s as if you should dehumanise yourself when bad things happen. But before that, you’re investing great deals of compassion and brain power into your work.
If something about my writing isn’t working, then I need to find out why and how to make it work. Isn’t this what constructive criticism is for?
Maybe I’m too sensitive for writing, or maybe I’m just not good at separating emotion from constructive criticism yet. It’s a skill that takes time to develop. A weird skill.