To many writers, compliments are a strange animal. They feel great at the time, but any authors who are at all like me will analyze any praise to death. Once picked apart, I put compliments into two general categories.
Easy to Doubt:
The first, and much larger group is the, "exaggerated compliments," group. It matters little how sincere a proffered piece of praise is to me, if I can find a reason to doubt it. This I should say too, just for the record, is nothing against the person giving the compliment, it is my own emotional bull to wrestle, so please don't' feel offended.
Many of the compliments I get are ones I can easily dismiss as vague. The person giving it may truly mean it, but I am going to struggle to accept it deep down. Sure, I may nod and smile, but if there is nothing to assure me what I've just heard is indeed genuine I'm going to have a difficult time believing it. This I'm fairly certain, goes back to those of us in the creative community naturally doubting our own work.
The second and smaller group of compliments for me, falls under the, "specific examples," category. These are the ones I am more likely to believe and accept, post analysis of course.
I look at a few things to see if I can validate that praise and verify to myself that it is meant, again, my issue, no one else's. There are two main things of which I make note.
First, did the person tell me they like a specific part of one of my stories? If the answer is, "yes," then I feel like I can chalk that one up in the win column. If, on the other hand there is not a particular example, then it is much easier to dismiss.
The other and second thing I usually look for is the overall personality of the individual giving the compliment. If they are someone who is direct and forthright, then again I feel I can accept their praise as genuine. Alternatively, if the person is usually negative, and rarely compliments anyone on anything then again a point is probably scored.
As someone who attempts to keep his glass half full, I'm currently teaching myself to dissect any compliment on my writing for nuggets of positivity. It's not easy, but doable. I feel if I can find ways to have fun with an external fixator on my leg for seven months, (Wikipedia page provided here, Taylor Spacial Frame, new window) then I should be able to undertake the arduous task of extracting something encouraging from what I would have once questioned. I hope other writers and creative people in general have ways of doing this too.
On a side note, avoid the above Wikipedia link if you do not possess a cast iron stomach. It's quite nifty, but also a little disturbing...
How do you deal with compliments as a creative person? I'd love to know, and as usual you can hit me up on my social media listed below.
Please note, I'll be taking a week off from my blog next week as I just received the manuscript for, "The Cripple's Game," and want to focus my undivided attention on that so I can have it ready for my cover designer and formatter.