Posted On October 6, 2014 by Print This Post

Nix The Naysayers by Handsome Hansel

Putting your words out there in the cold, cruel world is never easy. Today Handsome Hansel of  Dance of Romance is back with his regular column, tackling the depressing but highly relevant topic of Naysayers.

As writers we are overly observant people to begin with. We are empathizers, sympathizers, and caregivers, not only to our characters but our writing as a whole. We feel and experience on levels most don’t understand. We can’t help it. Which is why, when someone smirks when we say we are writing a novel or rolls their eyes when we get enthusiastic over a plot line we came up with, it hurts.


The pendulum of emotions swings both ways when it comes to our writing. There are a lot of positives in writing: finishing that first draft, winning a writing contest, helping design your cover art, etc. There are a lot of negatives too and almost all of them come from the naysayers who cross our writing paths.


For me it started with a couple of close friends. I had written a few short stories early on not intending for anyone to read them but me. I was getting my feet wet and seeing if I even had the personal stamina to stick with a story long enough to complete it. There was one story I was a bit proud of and was rereading it one day as my friends stopped by. They noticed my hardcopy sitting on my coffee table and asked what I was reading. Catching me at a proud moment, I confessed it was a story I had written and that I was doing some editing.


Of course the first thing they asked was, “Why are you writing?” After a shrug of my shoulders, one of my friends proceeded to sit on my couch and read it. Since the story was only twenty three pages long it didn’t take long for him to get to, “It’s not half bad.”


The conversation persisted to what my intentions were with my writing and I made the rookie mistake of saying I’d like to write professionally. Not as a magazine writer or blogger but as a full fledged novelist. (Cue eye-rolls)


While the story my friends read wasn’t romantic in nature I threw out that I was considering writing romance novels. (Cue snickering)


I blame the second Gentleman Jack I had that night for revealing what became an embarrassing admission but it was out there now and there was nothing I could do about it. I had taken the first step to admitting becoming a writer was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.


Little did I know that was only the beginning of the Naysaying I would encounter. Emboldened, I proceeded to let others in on my secret. It wasn’t easy hearing the skepticism in the voices of friends and family. There were words of encouragement as I sat across from them but I could tell the first thing out of there mouth once I left would be, “What the hell is he thinking?”


I blamed the unknown. These people surrounding me had never (that I knew of) tried to write anything. It wasn’t their forte anymore than mine would be rodeoing. I came to the conclusion I had to go back to keeping my writing to myself if I was to not be discouraged.


I started searching out other writers on Twitter and FaceBook. I also joined a couple of Romance Writers Groups which helped tremendously. Surrounding yourself with other like minded people does wonders for your self-esteem and outlook. I felt home.


Foolishly, I believed I had exorcised the naysayers from my life. Boy was I wrong. I allowed a couple of pros read one of my longer writings. One was an editor, the other a local, small publisher. I had my first book done but was hell bent on not letting anyone see it at this point. I wanted to hear what they had to say about my writing in general so that I could carry it over into my book before I made a complete fool of myself professionally.


Needless to say, the naysayers were back. This time they knew about writing and what I was and wasn’t capable of producing. I thought my friends comments hurt, the constructive criticism from local pros was deafeningly gut wrenching.


While I never thought my writing was all-encompassing in its perfection, I was, very proud of it.  After the critiques…not at all proud. I doubted myself. Again and again and again. I didn’t write for a while afterwards. I had become my own worst naysayer.


My naysaying was the hardest to get over. The mental blocks were too strong, too fortified to break through. It took me attempting to read a novel I had picked up on a display at my local library. They were featuring other authors from my state. The cover was interesting, the blurb on the back intriguing. Later that night I cracked the cover and began reading. It was AWFUL!


I checked the publisher and it was a mid-sized publisher from the east coast. The author hadn’t put this book out himself. There was hope for me yet! It sounds silly and perhaps a bit unprofessional but I felt if the book I was holding could get published, my writing could too.


Having returned the book after reading only the first fifteen or so chapters, I delved back into my works-in-progress. I returned with an open mind a realization that becoming a professional writer  is going to be a learning process, a growing process. I’m not going to ever be as good as I think I am. There will always be those out there who will critique me back to reality. It’s up to me to see their naysaying, not as a negative, but as a positive. A step closer to being the writer my readers demand of me.


How do you deal with Naysayers? How do you respond to people who (boo! hiss!) make cracks about writing romance?

The last time New York Times Best Selling Author ERIN KELLISON joined us at RU, she was a participant in a panel discussion when she was a debut author.  On Wednesday, Erin is a full-fledged Visiting Professor at RU!


Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.

I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at

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Handsome Hansel


29 Responses to “Nix The Naysayers by Handsome Hansel”

  1. Is there anyone who hasn’t had to deal with naysayers? I remember a wonderful talk Eloisa James gave at RWA National in 2009. She is a multi, multi-published author, with a huge number of followers, and yet she said her own mother kept asking her when she was going to write a “real” book.

    I think HH has hit on TWO important topics here – both learning to deal with naysayers in relationship to your own writing, and dealing with people who have no clue what romance novels are like. The less they know about the genre, the more likely they are to make infuriating comments. How do you all respond when someone disses romance writing in general – not necessarily your own writing?

    HH, thanks for tackling a difficult topic.

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | October 6, 2014, 1:24 am
    • Becke,

      I believe that when a female mentions she is in the process of writing a romance novel, their naysayers see it as a bit of whimsy and girlish fantasy. They don’t take it seriously.

      As a man (not a whimpy one either) I have come across people who think I’m in it just to get the “chicks” or I’ve even been asked to revoke my “man card”.

      Either way, they are collectively missing the point. Relationships in all forms are all around us. As romance writers, it’s up to us to put them on paper in a way that gets our naysayers to notice and show interest.


      Posted by HH | October 6, 2014, 10:33 am
  2. Oh HH, never =ever= discuss anything other than the weather after your second tumbler of Gentleman Jack.

    And perhaps not even that. 🙂


    Posted by Talia Pente | October 6, 2014, 8:54 am
  3. HH – What irritates me is that the stigma you mentioned doesn’t seem to apply to male mystery authors, many of whom base their mysteries around a romance. Romantic suspense gets bashed but I’ve read many best selling mysteries and thrillers that involved romance. Some even had characters that got their Happyily Ever Afters!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | October 6, 2014, 11:03 am
  4. I should probably go back and correct “Happyily” but right now it’s giving me a bad case of the giggles. It IS Monday, after all.

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | October 6, 2014, 11:04 am
  5. Dear HH, The negative comments by naysayers are more about them than about you. They have issues of their own which they have yet to resolve. Own who you are, ignore them, and follow your own path. …and have another glass of Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack!

    Posted by Elizabeth | October 6, 2014, 11:34 am
  6. Hi HH,

    I just sold two books and told everyone on Facebook. Not a word to those closest to me. I’m happier that way. I do what I want and they don’t have to feel sorry for me. Win win

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | October 6, 2014, 12:04 pm
  7. HH,
    Thank you for the article. The section about “the professionals,” made me trip up a bit. Mainly because that situation is, quite possibly, my “biggest fear?”
    I used to tell myself to just “completely ignore the naysayers.”
    I have learned to get past the verbal beatings by people who frown with religiously puckered sour puss faces at the very thought of (what they call) “smut books.” but how do you get past the words, looks and attitudes of people who are “in the biz?”
    I actually took your tactic and tried reading the first, of series of wildly popular books they were going to make into movies;- just to see “What was So popular/’amazing.’ ”
    *jaw drop~ were they serious!? I was so disappointed that “this”* waggles book~ could get published and achieve world wide acclaim.

    *suddenly feels like i’m repeating and running in rant with your article.~

    *collects myself~
    Ok, So,…i suppose i would like to hit on Ms. Becke Martin Davis’ question of “how do you respond to those who ‘dis’ romance writing, in general.” and “how do you get over the mental/emotional baracade and through the obstacle course of criticism to, both see the “coonstructive” and be able to write again-?”

    love, light, and GJ

    Posted by ~Zeal | October 6, 2014, 12:20 pm
    • In my case, Zeal, if someone disses romance on a blog or on FB or Twitter, I immediately send the link to my writing friends so we can let off steam together. What I WANT to do is scream and throw things, but I’m too mature for that. 😉

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | October 6, 2014, 2:19 pm
      • well, I’m not.

        useless backstory: My grandmother(who had vascular dementia the last years of her life) looks up from her plate one Thanksgiving(about 4 years back), looks at my husband and says, “Does she throw things when she’s mad?”

        I choked on the bite of food in my mouth. My husband wasnt the first to answer. Three of the kids, in overlapping, whole-hearted, sing song agreement, beat him to it.
        “Ho Yah!”
        “Uh Huh!”
        Grandmother looked back to my husband. I managed to swallow most of my bite and looked toward the love of my life, in hopeful pause.
        Calm and matter of point, “Yes. She does.”
        “That’s the Apache in her.”
        My Dad pauses his bite, “We’re part Apache?”
        The question gets left hanging as my oldest interjects, “I remember this one time where Mom,….” – and out came the stories.

        Not a topic i would have chosen, but it has made some good Thanksgiving memories. *Smile~

        As for those that dis romance as a genre, on “religious” grounds, I find saying, ” Stop reading the bible, then.” – followed by a few examples,… generally has enough shock value that they at least stutter a bit.

        It’s probably mean, and right next to disrespectful, but it works.

        I like your idea about sending the link to your writing friends.
        I dont have a circle of writing friends to do that with, so i try to stay with screaming into pillows, throwing soft stuff, and venting onto paper.

        *anything stiffer/harder than a nerf ball can still break a fish tank,though; just some helpful FYI.

        Posted by ~Zeal | October 6, 2014, 2:57 pm
  8. Evening HH!

    I too am my own worst naysayer…ugh. That’s something I’m going to need to seriously overcome. If I get negative criticism I try to drown my sorrows, hang my head low, crawl into bed and …well just become miserable. =) But it’s all stuff that can be fixed or learned. I just have to remember that after I’ve finished pouting, I need to LISTEN to the comments and process what was said. Usually that gives me hope to keep writing!

    Thanks for a great post!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | October 6, 2014, 7:45 pm
  9. HH, I always say “Everyone’s a critic; especially those who cannot write or don’t have the guts to put their work out there.” This is why I don’t give a tinker’s cuss (I don’t think this is Aussie colloquialism, but what the heck) what people say.

    I have six novels that are published. Most of my reviews are good; the ones that aren’t reek of “envy” or malicious intent. So I’ve learned to shrug my shoulders and dismiss reviews. After all, every review is subjective, as in “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Not everyone finds a person attractive, not everyone will like my novels.

    I write because I love it. If people buy my novels and like them, then I’m happy; if not, then so be it. The trick is not to shoot an author down in flames just because the reader hated the plotline. I understand novels getting a bad rating for poor editing, but the plotline belongs to the author. We breathe it and live it and give it birth. Telling an author that their novel sucks is like telling them they have ugly children.

    I wonder what a reviewer would say if I told them they have ugly offspring! LOL.

    Posted by Sylvia Massara | October 6, 2014, 8:04 pm
  10. Handsome one, I feel you on this. I had someone to tell me just this evening that I was not successful because nobody knows me. Really?

    I interviewed Dr. Maya Angelou; I was published in Forbes; and I have a book published on Amazon. No other freelance writer I know has done any of that. Most of the ones I know stopped pitching magazines because they have not had any bites.

    I think I’ve done pretty well.

    Posted by Marcie | October 6, 2014, 9:13 pm
  11. HH – Thanks for stimulating such a great conversation!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | October 7, 2014, 12:05 pm
  12. Four words freed me from the naysaying of myself and others: Fifty Shade of Gray!

    26 CONSECUTIVE weeks as NUMBER ONE on the combined NYT bestseller list (John Grisham made two weeks). Over 100 MILLION copies sold and counting. Really? After all of those 1-star reviews? I personally know intelligent women who said they liked it or even loved it. Me? Not so much, but >>>

    I would probably STILL be reworking the “telling” parts of my novel into more “showing” if this bomb hadn’t dropped on the literary world (she was nominated for National Book award you eye rollers/snickerers). Now my third book in the series is going to print. I got it done.

    I don’t dare say I didn’t like those books (or haven’t read them) for I certainly may be beaten, whipped and handcuffed. Let’s get cracking now, writers. Butt in chair.

    Posted by Diana Cachey | October 13, 2014, 6:10 pm


  1. […] Nix The Naysayers Handsome Hansel on the Romance University blog about how to deal with those who don’t think this writing malarky is a waste of your time – relevant for those starting NaNoWriMo! […]

  2. […] presents Nix The Naysayers posted at Romance […]

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