Focus on Your Fans

Over the years, I’ve been disappointed by a few people I felt should have supported me, but didn’t. They never shared my happiness in victory so I never shared my defeats with them. They weren’t always too mean; but in times of my successes they might say something like, “You must be so proud.” Folks, a person saying this isn’t proud of you. They’re saying you must be proud of yourself. There’s no reaction to this comment that makes you feel good, especially when you want to hear, “I’m proud of you.”

Never good enough

I hope you don’t have someone in your life who’s even more overt in not being your fan. If you win an award, they may say, “I’ve never heard of that award,” or “Everyone knows it’s all politics.” Supposedly, no one watches the TV program or listens to the radio station where you were interviewed. If you make a bestseller list, they’ll ask you to let them know when you make a bigger bestseller list. And when you do, they’ll set another goal for you.

They can help

Speaking of goals, naysayers can often be helpful because they may motivate you to meet the goal they set for you. Then again, they won’t be happy for you and will keep moving the cheese. But the joke’s on them when you meet and exceed those goals!

Denial doesn’t help

It’s disheartening when someone who should be on your team abdicates. You want to deny their lack of enthusiasm and think you misunderstood their remarks. Perhaps you did, but listen to your gut. Frenemies are nothing new. The trick is to identify them early and not to focus on them.

Find your supporters

Thankfully, we have a large, supportive Christian community in this tiny industry. This community includes faithful readers of this blog. Otherwise, no doubt you have at least one person who thinks you can do no wrong. This person, or people, cheer you when you win and offer tissues when you lose. Focus on these people to share your journey with you.

Is snark a good thing?

That’s not to say we should ignore all criticism. Our enemies can sometimes be the only people who feel free to share negative feedback with us because they surmise they have nothing to lose. Some people feel inferior and therefore take pleasure in cutting down others. Pity them. They need our prayers.

When you’re their target, don’t overreact. I’ve even heard people say, “Thank you,” to criticism. Maybe their voice took on an edge, but that’s still better than throwing a temper tantrum. After the conversation, take time to recover from the hurt. Then, in quiet moments, consider their input. Is any of it valid? How can you use that contribution to improve? Be sure to talk to your supporters for discernment if you need help.

Praise others

I’ve been blessed by people willing to praise me and literally say, “I’m proud of you.” When my daddy died, I lost one of those people. My mother still says she is proud of me. My husband and daughters are also supportive. These people can criticize me without any sugarcoating because I know those sentiments come from a place of love. I treasure them.

I don’t know of any successful person with no detractors. In fact, you may be a detractor of some people whose success you don’t appreciate or understand. Life is too short to dwell on derogatory people. It’s certainly too short for any of us to be detrimental toward others. Let’s keep our focus positive.

Your turn:

How do you deal with detractors?

Who is your most significant source of support?

What is your favorite way to support others?

47 Responses to Focus on Your Fans

  1. Joy Neal Kidney August 29, 2019 at 3:19 am #

    I’ve found that other writers are especially generous! Three have recently been beta readers for me. One featured one of my blog posts on her own website. Another created a couple of memes for me, using words from my manuscript. And another shared a page of notes about converting old photos to 300 DPI for self-publishing. I am so blessed.

  2. Audra Sanlyn August 29, 2019 at 3:55 am #

    I’ve always tried to push detractors to the back of my mind, attempting to glean any helpful criticism and applying that to my work. Overall, I have been incredibly blessed with a strong support system, including my parents and husband. Even my 6 year old will ask, “How’s the book coming, Mommy?” The most unexpected support I’ve found has been in the Christian writing community. After joining two writer’s groups, I realized the mutual support and lasting friendships could ultimately be priceless.
    My favorite way to support others is through prayer and critique groups. Not only am I helping other writers with their manuscripts, I am stepping outside my own fictional world for a few minutes, allowing myself to come back to it later with a clear mind.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray August 29, 2019 at 7:14 am #

      Great suggestions, Audra. Critique groups do indeed help form lasting friendships.

  3. Terry Whalin August 29, 2019 at 4:19 am #


    Wonderful article and you are exactly right we have to discard the negative and focus on the positive and keep moving forward as writers and people in publishing. Words change people’s lives (like the Scriptures have done for centuries). I appreciate your encouragement today.

    Straight Talk From the Editor

  4. Maco Stewart August 29, 2019 at 4:52 am #

    Tamela, thank you for your honesty. It is a body blow when there is a marked lack of enthusiasm for something into which I’ve poured years of love and effort, and my great supporters are sometimes people whom I had never expected. Two people who reviewed my novel for classification issues were unexpectedly encouraging. My best friend, an atheist, wouldn’t read it, and a close relative, similarly, was not supportive.

    When we find our fans, when they surprisingly appear and encourage us, we need to nurture and appreciate them. Support with useful feedback is the best combination: How do I make this better? is always the question I want answered at the prepublication stage. I thank God for my encouragers, and for those whose lack of support was discouraging, I still love them. I think nonwriters cannot understand that what we write is not just a mental exercise we’ve thrown out in pursuit of fame and glory: it’s a sharing of our heart.

  5. Isabella August 29, 2019 at 5:15 am #

    What an excellent article, deceptively simple and straightforward but in fact there is a lot to take in. What you say bothers me so much because of its veracity, and touches me deeply because while reading your specific examples of criticisms and the phenomenon of “moving the cheese” I realized I am that negative voice to myself. I am the one who is not supporting my own efforts. What a revelation to see in myself those qualities which I was so ready to find fault with in others. Thank you for the insights and advice, and for the other excellent comments from those respondents to your article. There is always so much to learn.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray August 29, 2019 at 7:16 am #

      Yes, we can be our own worst enemies sometimes, Isabella. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Melissa Henderson August 29, 2019 at 6:34 am #

    I am blessed with a great Word Weavers group. Also, attending writing conferences has allowed me to gain confidence in my writing, make great contacts and enjoy wonderful new friendships. I am blessed by the encouragement and support of other writers. My children’s book, Licky the Lizard, just won an a award at the NCCWC. 🙂

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser August 29, 2019 at 7:16 am #

      Melissa, congratulations!!!!!

      This is in your honour; I hope you like it.

      Today we rise to celebrate
      your honour and award,
      and none should ever hesitate
      for this is why we’re formed.
      We link our arms in joy and praise
      and for your favour sing
      of the rewarded writing days,
      and the catching of the ring.
      Support for others is, you see,
      another kind of hallowed prayer,
      a paean to the Mystery,
      in loving those who dare.
      Thus, Melissa, this is for you,
      and the lizard, Licky, too.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray August 29, 2019 at 7:16 am #

      Congratulations, Melissa! I also think very highly of Word Weavers.

  7. Deborah Raney August 29, 2019 at 6:52 am #

    I think one thing to consider when those we love outside the industry seem less than enthusiastic about an award is that they likely have no idea what the award even means. And unless we tell them, “This is one of the highest honors the industry awards!” they won’t know what a big deal our achievement was. And since we’re Christians, we’re not as likely to “brag” about our awards outside the industry. Your post makes me wonder how many of my family members’ achievements I’ve blown off with a mild way-to-go when their award actually warranted a party with cake and streamers, but I simply had no way of knowing what a big deal it was. Yes, there are naysayers whose intent is to put us in our place or “move the cheese.” But hopefully, we’ll offer grace toward those who simply didn’t understand what a big deal our accomplishment was because they are clueless about our industry.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray August 29, 2019 at 7:23 am #

      Excellent insights, Deb! And when you do win an award, it feels wrong to say, “Yeah, I won that award. That is a VERY big deal!”

      Your comment reminds me to be more mindful of others’ accomplishments. If I’m not aware of an award that a friend receives, I can look it up and learn about it! And even if it’s not really a big deal in that person’s industry, it’s a big deal to them. They wouldn’t mention it otherwise.

      I appreciate you for sharing.

  8. Roberta Sarver August 29, 2019 at 7:06 am #

    What do I do with detractors? Ignore them and focus on my friends who think I write well. And then I get a lot of pleasure out of seeing my work printed in a newspaper column or magazine article. Some of those negative detractors don’t even know where my writing appears, and that’s okay. I’m doing it for God’s glory, and that’s what counts.

  9. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser August 29, 2019 at 7:07 am #

    I never thought that ‘having fans’
    was something meant for me.
    I did the work, pursued my plans,
    and was far too blind to see
    that life is lived in concert
    with those whom we share time,
    and it’s imaginings that may revert
    to the illusory lonely climb.
    We’re a part of God’s own weaving,
    our place held and defined
    by many lives now interleaving,
    and we must keep that in mind,
    for in the praise I have been given
    is the call to others’ leaven.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray August 29, 2019 at 7:25 am #

      Amen, Andrew!

    • Abrigail Julian August 29, 2019 at 9:05 am #

      Another great on, Andrew! You’re a constant well of encouragement down here in the comments!

  10. Brennan S. McPherson August 29, 2019 at 7:29 am #

    Good article. Great advice.

    I’ve learned more from bad reviews than good reviews about the quality of my writing and what elements are missing. But bad reviews are poison for the soul. And most people who write them are just plain jerks trying to get off on proverbially stabbing strangers and twisting the knife. It’s particularly poisonous when they call themselves Christians, and view themselves as theology police (arm-chair theologians who’ve hardly read the Bible). But if they slander you in the name of God, who are you to tell them they have an evil attitude? It’s skin-deep armor for insecure people. As they say in the comment sections of the interwebs, “Don’t feed the trolls.” Best to hold our tongues and do exactly as you said, Tamela. Consider whether there’s truth in what they’re saying, then apply what we learned and keep our distance from them.

  11. Colleen K Snyder August 29, 2019 at 8:08 am #

    My greatest supporters are also my greatest critics. “As iron sharpens iron” and all that. As to the naysayers: I listen. I look for any truth that might be there. Then I take it to The Judge and my Audience of One to see if it’s valid, applicable, or otherwise worthy of action. I roll all the insults, slights, the being disregarded or ignored over to Him and let Him carry them for me. That applies to all of life, too. In the end, the only One I must please, the only accolade I want to hear is “Well done.” The rest of the time, I get even… I pray for whoever it was!

  12. Shannon Redmon August 29, 2019 at 8:14 am #

    I find I gravitate toward people who support me. Naysayers I tend to keep at arm’s length, although I do consider what they say. If their words help me to overcome something I didn’t see and will improve my situation then I act on it. Otherwise, I choose to ignore and move forward toward God’s truth of who He says I am and the positive people He puts in my life.

  13. Abrigail Julian August 29, 2019 at 9:11 am #

    Great advice to not focus on the negativity, Tamela.
    I haven’t experienced much negativity in my writing, but I sure have in my musical career. There was a time where I allowed the awkward, left-handed, back-handed compliments to marinate in my mind. As a result, I felt mediocre (at best) at something I was actually quite good at. I compared myself to others around me and had huge bouts of depression whenever I would perform.
    In writing, it’s a whole other story (pun intended). I have a writer’s group that supports me and gives constructive feedback, as does my family.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  14. Sharon K Connell August 29, 2019 at 11:55 am #

    Thank you. All great advice, Tamela. It’s exactly what I tell the members of my group forum.

    When someone gives you a less than glowing, or downright bad, review, comment, etc., don’t react. If you need to get over the hurt, take a few minutes, then go back to it with a humble heart, and see if there’s anything true about what they said. If there’s something you need to change, do it. If not, move on and forget about it.

    Sometimes family can be the hardest to get over, even when they don’t say anything but simply ignore your accomplishments. But the ones that do encourage you are the ones that you should focus on. Hold those thoughts tightly, embrace them. My biggest supporter is my husband and a step-daughter-in-law. They are such a blessing.

    Sometimes it’s hard to forget the hurt, but eventually it won’t bother you as much, and you will grow as a Christian from putting it behind you. Then go on to support others. I do that by retweeting their work on Twitter, sharing their work on Facebook, writing about it in my newsletter, trying to help in any way I can in my group forum or online. And, of course, if they write in one of the genres I love to read, I buy their books. 🙂

  15. Rebekah Robinson August 29, 2019 at 12:45 pm #

    My very first book goes on sale on Sept 10. My betas have been positive, but I’m nervous about its reception, since it’s a NF book about leadership. I’ve done my level best to be generous as well as candid, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time, right? Your post is very timely! I guess I will approach it with, “Listen, but listen to God first.”

    • Tamela Hancock Murray August 29, 2019 at 1:14 pm #

      Love the pic!

    • Lisa Simonds August 29, 2019 at 1:43 pm #

      Rebekah, I have to say Someone to Look Up To: A Lay View of Leadership looks intriguing! (link below) The cover is beautiful. Hopefully you will only catch positive reviews, but since negative reviews are an occupational hazard, take them with a grain of salt. Keep them on the outside, where they belong, and don’t let them get into your soul. Godspeed with the book!

      • Rebekah Robinson August 30, 2019 at 5:25 am #

        Thank you, that’s very kind! The book is called “Someone to Look Up To – A Lay View of Leadership.” Most leadership books are written by leaders, and I see some really alarming “them and us” quotes from time to time. What are these grand theories like for those who must live under them? How will emerging generations grapple with sacred cows? Also, there’s not a lot of training about avoiding spiritual abuse. These are some of the gaps I’m attempting to address, as kindly as I can.

  16. Isabella August 29, 2019 at 12:55 pm #

    Rebekah that is awesome! Congratulations! I hope you’ll tell us how your celebration party went. Take photos. Enjoy! These are moments to Savvor. Why don’t you share the name of your book with us as well.

  17. Deena Adams August 29, 2019 at 1:36 pm #

    My husband is my biggest fan. He supports my writing journey 100%, which is a huge blessing. I have two good friends who faithfully read my blog posts and comment. They ask how the book’s going and provide encouragement. I hold on to those, because there are many more, close family included, who don’t read a thing I write. I’m sure when my book gets published, they’ll all flock to the store, or Amazon, and read it from cover to cover in one sitting! 🙂

  18. Deborah Sprinkle August 29, 2019 at 3:41 pm #

    As a debut novelist, I have struggled with this this year. Some of my non-writer friends tend to look at my writing as a hobby. One of my closest friends called it “an expensive hobby”. When I try to gently make her understand that it’s much more than that, she doesn’t really understand. I’ve stopped talking to her about it. It makes me sad, but as with many others, I have a good group of writer friends who celebrate with me and support me when I fall. Thank you for writing this to let all us new writers know that we aren’t the only ones who struggle with soul stompers.

    • Sharon K Connell August 29, 2019 at 3:53 pm #

      People who don’t seriously write (writers), cannot understand, Deborah. Especially if they aren’t readers either. Don’t let it discourage you. You’ll find that we all go through this. A writer has to develop a tough skin. You’ll be okay.

      • Deborah Sprinkle August 30, 2019 at 7:51 am #

        Thank you for your encouraging words. Most days, I can let negativity roll off me, but there are those other days when each comment is like an arrow to the heart. I must pull it out, wait for it to stop bleeding, and move on.

        • Sharon K Connell August 30, 2019 at 7:54 am #

          That’s exactly the process. Eventually, those arrows will hit scar tissue, and it won’t hurt as much. Keep your chin up. The rest of us are here for you. 🙂

  19. Roberta Sarver August 29, 2019 at 3:43 pm #

    What a descriptive phrase, Deborah–“soul stompers”!

  20. Norma Brumbaugh August 29, 2019 at 9:25 pm #

    I suppose what gets to me the most is indifference. I work hard at writing and communicating my message. A few kind words of encouragement go a long way. I’ve learned the fine art of looking from the outside in. It helps to know my own purpose for why I do what I do and that I will keep my hand to the plough no matter what. Your perspective is helpful and encouraging. Thank you so much.

  21. Angela Enos August 30, 2019 at 2:39 am #

    I tell people to find their cheerleader. That one person who you know really gets you and will always cheer you on. My daughter is my cheerleader and I am hers. We cheer each other on whether it’s a good day or a bad day. If I write 100 words, she tells me I’m doing great, to keep going. If I write 2,000 words, she tells me I’m amazing. We write each other notes, emails, and texts and constantly cheer each other on, with love being the foundation of everything we say and do. And…we WERE both cheerleaders in school!

  22. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D August 30, 2019 at 11:37 am #

    Tamela, my present reaction is to divorce the ornery son of a gun, but that’s just me and right now…that said, I love the cheerleaders in my life. These folks uplift and encourage. If the name “Barnabas” means “son of encouragement,” then these folks are my own, personal “Barna-Barbies!” I love these “daughters of encouragement” and the blessing they are in my life.

  23. Carole Hamilton August 30, 2019 at 11:46 am #

    I find the balance you suggest helpful, in fact preventative advice and I appreciate your transparency. My passion for writing and the spiritual goals I dream of accomplishing have prematurely revealed these people obstacles in my sphere. I turn my eyes to the boss of my life, Jesus, and take the time to write a thoroughly effective prayer for that person, instead of letting my mind replay the hurt. I bless them with what they don’t have and must need. I move on with the self esteem of pleasing God and keeping my corner clean. It affects my expressions, my conversations and aids in a good night’s sleep. Emotional drains tend to disrupt creative juices. I don’t want that.

  24. Brooke Lorren August 30, 2019 at 4:26 pm #

    I’m lucky in that most people I know are supportive. Or maybe I’m just oblivious. Whichever, it’s all good.

    I like to support people by being positive about their work and telling people when I like what they did. The other day I realized I never told the author who wrote the books we named our kids after, so I sent her an email.

  25. Loretta Eidson September 2, 2019 at 4:57 am #

    It isn’t in my nature to be rude or crude, but some people ooze criticism. My family and close friends are my cheerleaders. They encourage me to reach for the moon. My fellow writers and authors celebrate together our successes and mend each other’s wounds left by naysayers.

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