21 Harsh tips from the Greats #5

5. I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. — Harper Lee

I find this so interesting coming from Harper Lee. It’s great advice for anyone, but knowing the nature of To Kill a Mockingbird, it makes me wonder what exactly she had in mind when she said this.

But let’s dig in a little deeper here. What’s so great about a thick hide?

Sure, you’re gonna face critics, you can’t please everyone, don’t take it personally. But I think the real gem of this advice comes from being able to divorce yourself from your work. Along with the idea of “kill your darlings”, you have to be able to pull back from your work and look at it objectively from time to time. If you can forget for a minute that YOU wrote the piece in front of you, how does that change how you’d approach something? Does it open your editing world up for you, being able to be as harsh, or as gentle, as you’d be with someone else of your current skill level? Learning to take your skin out of the match is an invaluable skill for growing as a writer.

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