Tell Me I Suck

Tell Me I Suck

Hello Rebel, and welcome back to my life.

I hate it when someone tells me I suck—and I also actively pursue people who will do that exact thing.

Not pursue people. I don’t—I don’t chase them. I seek them out and try to form a relationship—you get the idea.

In my personal friendships, I’ll try to connect with people who will tell me I’m being a crappy person, and in my writing, I seek out editors and beta readers who will tell me my books are terrible.

Because here’s the thing: there are plenty of people already who tell me I am a great person, or that my books are wonderful. I hear that a lot. I’ve had a great support system my whole life.

But I’ve talked before on this channel about how I’m a total narcissist and how no, I’m not joking when I say that.

I am hardwired by an entire lifetime of praise and privilege to ALREADY think I’m awesome, and that everything I do, including my books, is wonderful. That’s my default setting.

But I’ve also studied and self-reflected enough to know that in a lot of cases, there is no basis in reality for the idea that I AM the best, or even, sometimes, very good.

Sometimes I write a bad book. I ALWAYS write a bad first draft. Sometimes I’m unintentionally thoughtless or mean or act in a way that unjustly hurts another person.

And when I do those things, I still INSTINCTIVELY think I did a good thing, or at least that I didn’t do anything wrong, or when it comes to my writing, that my book is pretty awesome.

When I first wrote the book Darkfire, I thought it was amazing. I thought it was the best Underrealm book I’d written so far. I was on top of the world.

And it wasn’t until that book was read by two of my favorite beta readers—looking at you, Kristen and Jess—that they pointed out that there were very many no-good, superbad things I’d done in the book that made it maybe the WORST Underrealm book so far.

That sucked. That felt terrible. I was not happy. But the thing is: they were absolutely right.
And I saw what they were talking about, and I fixed it, and I really do think that Darkfire became the best book I’d written up to that point, though hopefully I’ve continued to improve since then.

Now, there’s an important element to this: I have to solicit advice from people who, like, actually know what they’re talking about.

Because trust me, the other thing I’ve learned from several years being a professional internet person is that you can find PLENTY of people who will tell you how awful you are, whether or not that’s actually true.
It works both ways: it’s easy to think you’re worse than you are, and it’s easy to think you’re better than you are, depending on the kind of person you are, and the people who are around you.

I really do think that self-awareness is the highest of personal virtues. That might be overstating it, but I don’t think so.

This is one reason I don’t react well to people fishing for compliments. In any way, but particularly when it comes to behavior.

If someone tells me they’re a terrible person, or that they always do this one bad thing, my immediate instinct is not to jump in and tell them they’re NOT a bad person and they DIDN’T do a terrible thing.

Because that’s actually a tactic people will use to avoid responsibility for something bad they’ve actually done. It starts when they do something wrong, and someone TELLS them it was wrong, or bad.

And then the person who did the bad thing goes, “I guess I’m just terrible. I’m awful. I always do this. I’m a bad person.”

And this usually makes the OTHER person jump in and try to boost them up to make them feel better about themselves.

But all that means is that the person who actually DID do something wrong gets a free pass and never has to improve anything about their own behavior.

That’s why, when I say I did something wrong, or I call myself narcissistic, I’m NOT asking for people to excuse it or prop it up. I’m recognizing something in myself so that I can improve in the future.

So please, whether it’s here on my vlog, or in my writing, or on my livestream—if you see me do something bad, please: tell me I suck.

That’s it for today, Rebel. Check out another YouTube video while you’re here, or pop over to my Patreon where you can check out my secret weekend videos.

Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you tomorrow. Byyye!

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

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