Everyone loves a story about a famous author — Stephen King, Margaret Mitchell, J.K. Rowling — who faced one rejection after another before making it big.
The idea being that the publishing houses where these authors submitted their work were wrong — and thank goodness the authors didn’t trust the publishers’ opinions, or else we readers would be less enlightened today.
Still, it’s probably unfair to say that the moral of these stories is “never trust anyone’s opinion but your own.” Sometimes other people are right — whether they’re telling you that your writing stinks or that you’re too aggressive at work.
The question is: How do you know when someone’s giving you solid advice? Elizabeth Gilbert, the bestselling author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” has an idea.
Writing on Oprah.com, Gilbert shares the four questions she uses to decide whether to trust someone’s opinion:
1. Do I trust this person’s taste and judgment?
2. Does this person understand what I’m trying to create here?
3. Does this person genuinely want me to succeed?
4. Is this person capable of delivering the truth to me in a sensitive and compassionate manner?
Gilbert, who has said she “collected only massive piles of rejection notes for years,” writes on Oprah.com that she used these four questions to decide who could read her writing. But she says they work just as well in her personal life.
Doing what you love — even if other people don’t like the end product — counts for something, too. In her 2014 TED Talk, Gilbert talked about the process of writing her second book; she was afraid it would come as a disappointment to people who’d read the bestselling “Eat, Pray, Love.”
In fact, the book (“Committed“) “bombed,” to use Gilbert’s words. But “I was fine,” Gilbert told the TED audience. “I knew that I had broken the spell and I had found my way back home to writing for the sheer devotion of it.”