Celebrating One Hundred 5-Star Reviews
This one is for my fellow creatives.
Last weekend, I received my 100th 5-star review for my writing business. I fought back the tears as I read the client’s review, “Always great. She is timely and offers great feedback.” I was in disbelief—one hundred 5-star reviews.
In the two years since I started my business, I have found a way to dismantle almost every 5-star review I’ve received. I got the review because I was kind, or overly accommodating, or maybe because I did a little something extra. Because my work was simply good, though? “Great,” even? I didn’t believe it. Some days, I still don’t.
I imagine this is likely the way most creatives feel. One minute, you’re feeling the electricity emanate through your veins and lighting your fingers on fire, and the next, you’re sopping wet from the cloud of rain you just dumped on your own parade. Why do we do this?
Part of this is biological. The two sides of our brains assess incoming information a bit differently, the right side harsher than the left. I am intimately familiar with the right side of my brain, especially when it comes to my writing. “Okay, you got a good review, but that’s just ONE person’s opinion,” or “She ONLY gave you that review because you offered to edit an extra 500 words for free.”
Each time I post a story on my blog or send a final draft to a client, I feel a temporary sense of pride, followed by a prolonged sense of dread. What if no one likes it? Hell, what if no one even reads it? What if my client thinks I’m an imposter? What if I’m just not good enough?
Round and round I go, twisting up all of my brain tissue into giant cursive What Ifs that plague my thoughts and dreams.
If you’re a creative, I’m sure this sounds familiar.
The good news is that our brains also come equipped with an eager optimist: the entire left side. This is the side of my brain that I am trying to get to know better.
When the right side of my brain whispers, “what if they hate the story?” I pause and allow the left side to speak up, “what if they love it?”
When the right side says, “what if you aren’t good enough?” I allow the left side to counter, “you are, and you can always improve.”
The right side is still much louder than the left. Sometimes, he’s so loud that he completely drowns out the left side. However, when his roar dies out, and he crawls into his bed tired and exhausted from all his shouting, the left side emerges. Her voice is still quiet, but her words are firm. She doesn’t doubt me. She knows those 5-star reviews are exceptional. So, she waits until pessimism runs out of steam and reminds me not to mix up progress with perfection. She tells me that being enough is my decision.
Both sides are essential. The right side is like an overprotective father. He doesn’t mean to doubt me. He’s just trying to protect me and often provokes me to find ways to improve my craft. The left side, however, she is the reason I hit submit.
Being a creative is hard. I think I will always wonder if I’m good enough.
When I started my writing business, I told myself that I’d have to find a way to push past the doubt. I can’t let those words stop me. If I really want to pursue this, I have to give the left side of my brain a seat at the table. And even when I doubt myself, I need to click submit.
So, here’s to one hundred 5-star reviews. One hundred writing projects that someone loved and appreciated. One hundred times I got it right.
One hundred times I was more than good enough.