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How much does Validation matter? #writing #life

By 03/10/2015writing
Damyanti Ghosh Best of the Net

Thorax of a Blowfly:

This morning, three different rejections landed in my inbox.

Also got a note on Facebook from that they’ve nominated my story Thorax of a Blowfly for the Best of the Net anthology, 2015. It’s an icky story, and not really competition material, so I’m kind of stunned they chose it. It goes like this:

She could hear the little darlings. They made minute scrapy-whispery sounds as they fed on flesh, desperate to grow, so they could get on with their brief lives as the hairy maggot blowfly. Their dirty-yellow warty bodies looked true to their common name, but Farah preferred to call them Chrysomya rufifacies. Sounded scientific, and so much better. Read more…

I’m grateful to New York Writer’s Workshop for their faith in my work. I’m fortunate, blessed.

The validation is great, don’t get me wrong, but just like the rejections, their effect on me is short-lived. Like I said on a writing forum today, I’ve become a believer in ‘Action without Attachment.’

The stories get my very best, and I shop them around. Rejections are par for the course, so a little validation once in a while is good. But neither matter when faced with the blank page. Some days, words follow one another. I blog or edit when the words don’t flow. That’s all there is to it.

Some days are harder than others, but the effort everyday is mostly fulfilling. Frustrating too, sometimes. But the frustration reduces the more I show up on the job, on the page. Not that it will entirely go away, I don’t think.

What about you? In life, or writing, does external validation make you feel worth it? Does fear of rejection prevent you from participating? What’s your secret coping mechanism?

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • ccyager says:

    Considering that validation happens so rarely, it is a priceless thing to me. It helps tremendously to hear/read positive feedback of any kind. After sending out my first novel (not to mention all the stories I’ve written over the years) to agents and publishers, receiving compliments on the writing but being told that it wouldn’t sell, yes, I’m a little submission shy. However, since I published my novel myself, I’ve been feeling a bit more confident. Coping? I don’t cope. I write. Cinda

  • It’s great to feel that someone else is entertained by your words.

    I love the interaction from blogs, for example. Quite an instant public appraisal of your output.

  • i feel that with validation the key word is joy…if you’re receiving joy in the process just leave it there…validation takes one down a rocky road of status anxiety…it’s inevitable you develop some critical thinking for yourself anyway. the need for validation can render you beholden to people you don’t even like. we all know endless stories of how went unnoticed or even ridiculed. our own critical thinking is a blessing,and somewhere along the line we all garner people around us who we’ll trust as sounding boards.

    when it comes to’s a thrill…it’s a fresh firecracker in the back pocket.

    much love xxx

  • External validation is fabulous and, like medicine, necessary at least occasionally. But I agree, the effect is short-lived. I love it very, very much, but I don’t depend on it and can go for long periods without. This means that every time it comes it is a happy surprise.

  • aetherhouse says:

    I’m not so worried about rejection as I am the idea of rejection. The actual letters I can brush off. But the idea of mass rejection – the entire world thumbs-downing my work because it’s too weird, it doesn’t follow the norms, it isn’t good enough….that terrifies me. It upsets me. It makes me feel like getting an actual agent and editor to take interest in my work could cure it, but then I’ll wonder if I merely slipped through the cracks. I am full of more doubt than I’ve ever been in my life because this is finally the time when I’m letting people see my work. And while I accept that not everyone will like it – that’s just life – I worry that NO ONE will.

  • Marso says:

    Thanks for your validating reminder of an approach: β€˜Action without Attachment.’

  • D.G.Kaye says:

    The hard work keeps us humble, so no doubt a little validation is like refueling at the pump. πŸ™‚ Congrats at the acceptance.

  • I just want to connect with readers. I have no need of any other validation than theirs. I am a reader too and it is for them and myself that I write. Not for an editor, publisher or agent. I write to be read not win prizes. But I’m strange like that! I liked your post. It really made me think and codify my feelings on this matter. Right now I stand at a cross road and your post helped me to identify why I started down this road in the first place and where I need to go. Thank you.

  • Kelee Morris says:

    I think we should embrace praise and rejection as part of the process, but avoid letting our egos get involved. Don’t equate a review or even our work as writers with ourselves. We are so much more than that. Accept it, grieve if we need to, and then move on.

  • Peter Nena says:

    I must read that story. The Thorax of a Bowfly. Hell, I even love the title!
    I also like the concept of ‘Action without Attachment.’ I’ve pondered over it. Once, in 2008, I decided that it would be my code. That I’d not allow myself to be attached to anything. But then, I realised that detachment from things hurts too, even hurts worse because it feels undeserved, and that to pursue a course, I have to be attached to it.
    Everything hurts, I think. Attachment, detachment, apathy, etc. So I said to myself, “Well, I will choose for myself what, or who, can hurt me.”
    That’s how I cope.

  • Linda says:

    A little validation gives you confidence when the doubts creep in. But I would never want the doubts to disappear, because they are the very things that compel you to try harder, to improve. I don’t enjoy the doubtful days, I in the middle of them at the moment. But they also make me proactive and determined to make improvements, so I believe it’s about finding the balance.

  • Rich Allan says:

    Writing a novel and trying to get it published is a long and frustrating process. It is almost too easy to turn to electronic publishing (e-books) where the only gatekeeper is you. But there are thousands of books on amazon that no one every sees. As I stare at the opening page of my third novel it takes a lot of energy and determination to start that 3-5 year process all over again. I too turn to my blog for a shot of energy to keep the writing fresh and the validation instant.

  • Let rejections fall off you like water from a duck and consider good reviews and praise a gift.

  • of course we all like to think that validation doesn’t matter, but if i’m being honest, it definitely does. sometimes (but not all the time) i crave a little validation or encouragement to know that i’m at least headed in the right direction.

  • I find myself avoiding situation where I encounter rejection. Yes, I know I can learn from the criticism, but I’m not strong enough. It takes time for me to recover. Conversely, I don’t seek out accolades, either. I figure they would be empty without the balance of critique.

  • What a great topic! Validation.

    I literally just posted a thank you to my beta readers and used that very word. I am attached to my work, but not in the ‘omg you need to like me’ sort of way, but in the, ‘I want what I write to powerfully connect with my readers,’ manner. So, for me, connection = validation.

    If you, as my lovely reader, connect with what I’ve written, then that validates the quality of the work, and my ability as a writer to create that connection. If there is no connection, I know that I need to work harder on the next story.

    It’s early, I need coffee and that’s the best I got this morning. Cheers and thank you for a valid topic. πŸ˜‰ -SRG

    • Damyanti says:

      Stephen I do connect with your writing– so here’s some validation for you, whenever you read this πŸ™‚

  • lipsticktech says:

    I thought you might be interested in the 3 Day Quote Challenge, so I nominated you in my last post!

  • Eiliries says:

    I don’t need constant validation for my writings. However, if it’s been a minute since I’ve heard anything good, I do wonder if something has fallen off and it can get in my head.

  • Tony Laplume says:

    The harshest validation I crave for myself is the ability to create a working life where I am free to do what I love (which is to write) rather than what I don’t (which is pretty much everything else). I’m realizing more and more that the slow start I gave myself affected the speed at which I’ve been able to reach that point. I tend to take rejection badly because it represents another failed attempt to obtain this goal. As for the creative aspect itself, it doesn’t affect how I write. Recently, as a blogger, I’ve taken a different kind of rejection as a sign that that aspect of my writing isn’t worth it, or that I’ve been garnering a response I don’t particular care to have or deal with. But it doesn’t change who I am. The problem is about expectations and also priorities.

    • Damyanti says:

      Yes Tony, that’s a harsh validation– the one to do with money. I don’t think I’ll ever crave that from my writing, possibly because i know for plain fact that my kind of writing doesn’t make money. Anything that comes in is a bonus.

      Whatever it is that you want, my wish for you is to get it, and get it on your own terms. To make a living out of writing is dream few of us go on to fulfill, but it is possible.

  • this made my gut tingle, just to do something, regardless

  • J.R.Barker says:

    I think validation sometimes helps to take away the bitterness of rejection.

  • oshrivastava says:

    Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

  • It feels good when it happens, but I certainly don’t lose sleep over not getting it. I think the biggest thing I use to cope when there’s out-right rejection is that I don’t stand to fall before anyone but God. I never maliciously try to destroy someone, and that’s part of the reason I obscure identities of the living. But if the lament empowers continued healing in this life-long battle with depression then I won’t hesitate to write it. Acceptance or rejection doesn’t really matter then because if I’m drowning then I’m going to try and live. Writing saves me from drowning many times.

  • I’m scared of what people may think of what I write or what I say. Since I started my review blog here on wordpress I have been posting more for me than for others but I know that I’m restraining myself because my way of speaking may be a little too much with my reactions and all. Now I have more likes on my posts and it’s good but it is still there, the fear of making someone mad for something I’ve said. Sometimes I catch myself thinking “OMG. What if the author read this? Maybe this comment will offend them…” and I change my words.
    In my personal writing I write for the fun of it but in my projects I notice I get stiff if I think of the posibility of publishing. My writing won’t be good enough… or so I say to myself. So far I have a bunch of unfinished drafts and more ideas for new projects… validation it’s not everything but it’s a part of the world that I would like to have.

    • Damyanti says:

      Reviewing is hard. Kudos to you for taking it up. As you grow in confidence, your voice will emerge. Till then, just keep on keeping on.

  • clanton1934 says:

    I am going to commit an act of validation by leaving my footprint here although you and I have had our exchange on FB. BTW, you are a VALID Writer. This document is your Certificate: Certified by The Rogers

  • RSGullett says:

    I write because I love it and because I feel almost compelled to do so. Even still, I hope my words speak to people and that they’d let me know how they are affected. It does feel good to hear or read that someone else appreciates my writing.

  • tj6james6 says:

    I wrote a post on validation and children back in July.
    To sum it up if you don’t have time to read it: It’s HOW we phrase the validation rather than the validation itself which is important.
    As parents, we tend to overuse the same words and phrases to the point that older kids may stop listening or think we don’t mean what we say.

  • Lara/Trace says:

    Years ago (early 90s) I took a publishing class at a community college and learned that 5% of the population reads books and what they read broke down into a pie chart. It was horrific. REALLY! If you write fiction, write for you. There are 75 million books each year. Write as a right – rite, as a joy. If its non-fiction, go to college for that.

  • Almost Iowa says:

    It is disappointing to receive a tepid response after publishing something that I think is really good on WordPress. On the other hand, I would hate to write something good and have no one read it. Validation can be a trap – especially when we find ourselves writing for it.

    • Damyanti says:

      yes, on a blog, definitely, but in other writing and life, too. When our source of validation is external, it is hard to stay happy.

  • curtisbausse says:

    Yes, it’s important. It gives that boost of confidence that allows you to lessen the doubt and keep going a little more easily. And as long as one remains self-critical, it can lead to better writing, or push one to explore the boundaries a bit more. But it’s something of a mirage and can’t suffice on its own, or at least it’s not what’s uppermost in our mind when we write.

  • you are like a sage if attachments don’t bother you….but few are like that……validation does have an effect on the human mind…….for me, rejection makes me rethink my style and ideas and acceptance makes me very happy….:)

    • Damyanti says:

      Oh Sunanina, I’m no saint– both rejection and acceptance affect me, but the effect is rather short-lived, because my concern is with the words on the page in front of me.

  • prosophiliac says:

    I haven’t thought of validation. Blogging is a hobby for me. So its just fun to do it. Anything more is just additional benefit. Anything negative I just ignore.

  • jenanita01 says:

    Reblogged this on Anita & Jaye Dawes.

  • Whenever a rejection comes I think of Van Gough. No matter how upset I feel I still don’t feel upset enough to cut my own ear off so it can’t be that bad!

  • BellyBytes says:

    Of course we want the praise and the accolades and the thumps on the back. Who doesn’t like to hear that you are the one and only and the best! My coping mechanism is to dismiss every rejection as a stepping stone to success and treating every rejection slip as a mistake the rejector will one day regret

  • ekamjs says:

    It’s almost scary because I realised that external validation is my way of evaluating myself and without it I feel like I’m not doing enough or by doing something well enough. It’s scary because while it feels good I also realise that I’m dependent on everything outside of myself to feel like I’m worth it.

  • I feel little attachment to my stories. They are merely photographs. The story behind the photographs are, to me, untouchable. The creative struggle, the hours spent without resurfacing from the world you create, the exploration… What feelings then does rejection offend? The disappointment of being judge unfavorably maybe? Or maybe the feeling of going out on a limb to exhibit with intent to sell stories which are ultimately a part of who you are as a sentient creative being, only to get your hopes crushed.. Ok. I see your point. I guess I’m impartial. I’ve never tried the publishing process.

  • I’ve found myself seeking validation and checking ‘likes’ and realised I am judging myself by these. Have been wanting to turn off the like button on writing posts and keep them only for photographic ones but have not gotten down to doing this yet.

  • trE says:

    When I was younger, I craved outside praise as validation. Now that I’m older, I know my writing more. I know what I’m capable of and how to cater my writing to certain sources of interest. There will always be rejections, but they neither validate me nor do they hold much weight in my realm. If I reach one, two, or three people, satisfaction is instant. But, do I need the validation? At this stage of my life, no. No, I do not. Do I want it? Sure, but I will continue to write with or without it.

  • Ben says:

    validation is supreme. if the stuff were written only for ourselves, it would be little better than narcissism. it needs to resonate beyond ourselves.

  • It’s not so much validation as being heard at all. This is probably the feeling of every self published author, though. The stories I write, I am extremely proud of, but they are lost in the every growing sea of other works. Marketing and self promotion is an exhausting endeavor. I’m grateful to share some of my writing on my blog, and get the validation that comes in small doses from that.

    • Damyanti says:

      Yep, the very idea of marketing is exhausting– this is why I’m in absolutely no hurry to publish a book.

  • flamingyawn says:

    Your statement about what to do when the words won’t flow could really turn my productive life around, I think, the way to think about those uninspired days–that I can still be productive and feel like I’ve accomplished something worthwhile is very encouraging. Thank you very much!

  • nonnaci says:

    I see it in terms of feedback and a brief sketch of what others are interested in.

  • Validation is very important, it feels great! But I’ve been rejected in every way a human can be rejected and my response has always been, and will always be to fight even harder. Sure I wallow in the deep dark pity party arena for awhile, but never for long! Tell me I can’t do something, go ahead, I dare you!!!

  • misskzebra says:

    It’s difficult. There was a point I was looking at my blog several times a day, and I began to realise, no matter how many comments or likes, it was never enough. I had to take a break from it, and go back to writing just for myself. I’ve never been as active on my blog since. The biggest piece of validation I ever had was when I wasn’t blogging, and someone contacted me out of the blue to say that they missed my work.

  • Congrats on the publication! It’s a great feeling. And partly because it is validation. Someone, a professional in the field, has recognized your effort and wants to share it with the world. What a great feeling it is. I agree with everyone that the “inner core” of every writer speaks to the heart and says…”keep on writing, forget the rejections, shake off the depression and just keep on writing. Validation is ultimately a personal issue. Still, validation pushes the confidence level higher and higher. When I receive the impersonal email that rejects my effort, my imagination goes berserk for about thirty minutes then I settle down and get back to work. I do though need to emote, get the “bad feelings” out, shake it off, then I can start back to work. Your posts are wonderful.

  • Paul Davis says:

    I crave validation, but I’m generally quick to get back up from rejection. I just like hearing I’m awesome. Good job on the submission!

  • What gets me into trouble is anything that causes me to overanalyze my writing, so external validation makes me almost as squirrely as rejection can. Almost. Fear of rejection doesn’t prevent me from writing, but frustration over rejection brings me down sometimes. My not-so-secret coping mechanism is to remember countless writers who were repeatedly rejected before achieving great success.

  • Dan Antion says:

    Validation matters. Almost opposite of your situation, I blog partly because I find validation there through comments and likes. My day job provides very little in the form of validation, other than a paycheck.

  • tmezpoetry says:

    Validation is important, this is why I appreciate all of my readers and why I spend time going through other blogs. However, I am content with a personal, writing style that remains diverse and exploratory… sometimes just writing to just openly process and at other times for challenge, artistic flair and personal pleasure. Therefore I can’t write exclusively in one genre or for a specific audience in a specific style. Because of this, I understand why one follower may only like a one or two poems on the site and other readers many like many poems. In good humor, I’ve recently started a site called 20BelowClub for people like me who never get more than 20 likes on a WP post. It really isn’t about numbers, it is about supporting each other and acknowledging that there are writers and great works out there that deserve way more attention and exposure than they get. I guess I am too stubborn or daft to change my writing to make them or myself marketable for the publishing world, but my passion is never doused in the act πŸ™‚

  • jonquilaries says:

    Congrats on the acceptance! Many writers live to see something of theirs being embraced by the community. And that’s okay. It drives them to keep going. Validation to me is the satisfaction I get from a finished piece. It’s never been about impressing on the masses. Personally, I don’t think I can handle something of mine being A Big Deal. But I’d be lying if I said knowing at least ONE person was waiting to read something of mine wasn’t incentive to work harder.

  • Everybody needs to hear it. Keeps us going. But real validation should come from within. And for me personally, real validation comes from God.)

  • rxena77 says:

    Validation is icing on the cake. Fortunately for me, I like my cake plain. If I wrote for validation, I would have quit long, long ago. Emily Dickinson was savaged by the critics — she never wrote for publication again. And if her sister had not salvaged her poetry, how much poorer the world would have been without her words that touch the heart.

    But Emily kept on writing … I keep on writing and self-publishing. You see, I have no family to draw me into the light. I can only hope that somewhere in the cyber-verse, someone will enjoy my tales. Great post as always, Roland

  • My brother has only two responses to my poetry: 1) I don’t get it. and 2) Can I have a copy?

  • Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  • misfit120 says:

    Everybody likes to be validated, but long ago I accepted the fact that my validation is MY satisfaction is accomplishing something. That being that I wrote what “I” felt was a good piece and if someone, anyone, even one person reads it or likes it “THAT” is a validation. I refuse to give up writing seeking to be accepted or validated or winning any awards. I enjoy my creative work and it makes me happy. So, that said, if writing is an outlet for you and you enjoy doing it, skip the needing to be validated part.

  • Julia Lund says:

    I like validation – in fact I love it. However, truth is, the glow fades and I’m left with the core that keeps me going: resilience, ego managed and the experience of a life of more decades than I’d like to have to admit to πŸ˜‰

  • strangepegs says:

    Mostly, I don’t pay much attention to external validation.
    Though sales are nice.

  • A bit of validation goes a long way to encourage us and constructive criticism helps to keep us pushing for higher and better grounds.

  • Some form is validation is important for me. When I write in my blog, there’s a particular audience I’m attempting to capture so when I get positive feedback whether in likes or comments, it give me reassurance that the effort I put in is worth something to someone. I do however take validation with a grain of salt. I still like what I like and write about the things I’m passionate about so no one should ever make me feel like how I feel about my interests in dependent on whether they like it or not. I try to not morph into what people and readers want me to be rather than what kind of writer I actually am. xx Love reading your post by the way.

  • Your post caught me at a vulnerable moment. I’ve been querying agents about my latest novel and have had only two answers, both negative, out of fourteen tries. The rest? Silence. Publishing fiction these days is like trying to spit through a rivet at twenty feet. I love the work but hate the life.

  • In my early writing days, validation was a very big deal. But I think it stemmed from seeking approval of others and wanting to please people. I still struggle with people-pleasing, but the need for validation is not as strong. I have come to the realization that approval does not necessarily make you a better writer. But neither does flat-out negativity. There has to be a balance between encouragement and critique. That’s what encourages you to be a better writer. That’s what I’m learning. I’m also being reminded that not everybody is going to like what I write, so it’s pointless to write to appease everybody. I have to write my version of my story, not anyone else’s.

  • Molly-Louise says:

    Of course validation is important to everyone. I figure that if at least one person has read my work then I am happy, otherwise how many does it take? Two, ten, a thousand, a million… I love the internet because I can post my writing without rejection. I don’t like writing competitions because I don’t believe writing should be a competition, and I know one person’s opinion of a piece may be completely different to another’s. So I have learned to accept not always getting validation and now recognise that it is the act of writing that is most important to me. Congratulations of getting your piece accepted (I should have said that first).
    Best wishes