Scott H Young

If You Aren’t Getting Hate Mail, Your Writing Probably Sucks


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The most popular articles on this website are also the posts with the most negative comments. It took me awhile to realize this, but hate mail can actually be a sign you’re doing something right. Truly awful stuff gets ignored. It’s only the ideas that are new, involve risks or push boundaries that get hate mail. Those are also the ideas that change the world.

If everyone supports your goals and dreams, you probably have no real ambitions in life. If they laugh at you, mutter something sarcastic or send you hate mail, you might actually do something important.

When I started this website two years ago, I didn’t get a single vote of confidence. Most of my friends and family were ambivalent, and others were completely negative. Today, I received thousands of comments of support and many people who were skeptical have given me their full confidence.

Don’t Feel Bitter About the Lack of Support

It’s easy to become bitter if you don’t have any support for your ideas. You may rationalize that other people are jealous, uncaring or out to sabotage you. I don’t think any of these are actually the case.

I feel the real culprit behind a lack of support is that they don’t have access to your vision. Even the most empathetic people don’t have access to your brain. They can’t think your thoughts. They can only look at the digested pieces of your idea after you try to communicate it. And, unfortunately, the most important ideas are difficult to communicate.

Even if the other people can see your end result, they can’t see the motivation that will carry you there. Unless you have a spotless record for achieving the impossible, its too easy to see the obstacles but not your drive.

Don’t blame other people for not supporting you. It isn’t really there fault, and it can often be a sign that you are doing something original and important. Instead, put your focus on proving your idea. Go out and put it into practice. Don’t sit around and wait for an invitation.

Stop Asking for Advice

There are many areas of life where getting advice is important. But don’t ask for advice when you want support. If you have a goal or dream, your subconscious has already made the decision to pursue it. Asking for advice once that decision has been made can only dull your resolve to move forward.

Don’t ask for advice on your goals. If you want to start a business, don’t ask other people whether you should. They can’t tell you what your desires are. The only useful time to ask for advice is on implementation. Once you’ve made the decision to pursue the goal, then it makes sense to ask people for tips on how to do it.

Asking advice for a goal is really just asking permission. You want someone smarter than you to validate your desires by saying they are realistic. When you ask permission to go after an idea, you’re giving up power to the other person.

The critics might be right. You might be a half-wit whose ideas are impossible. You might be too incompetent to execute them. You might fail. But failing is better than sitting on the sidelines, always unsure about what you could have done.

I’ve received my fair share of hate mail in the two years of operating this website. Some are well-thought and genuine critiques. Others are gut-reactions to something that challenges their assumptions. I’ve even received personal attacks and borderline threats from people passing by the site.

Over time the hate mail becomes dwarfed by the support. Once you start bringing your ideas into reality, people who were previously skeptical become supportive. If everyone could share your vision it wouldn’t be yours.


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18 Responses to “If You Aren’t Getting Hate Mail, Your Writing Probably Sucks”

  1. kaley says:

    Maybe your’re just trying to justify your mediocre work. Honestly, some articles are REALLY mediocre, and its to your benefit to listen to criticism. You’re not built like that.

  2. Scott Young says:

    kaley,

    Mediocre work isn’t the problem. When I write a mediocre post, I don’t usually need the criticism–the audience tells me by the lack of comments. Hate mail, on the other hand, usually comes from writing something that is different.

  3. kathleen says:

    All press is good press, right? Plus, your point isn’t (or at least doesn’t seem to be) convincing others that you are right and they are stupid. Sometimes, with your atheistic postings, you get people all fired up, not because you’re telling them that their beliefs are wrong, but because you’re admitting that hey, you actually think differently.

  4. Brian says:

    Hi all,

    I’m calling out for help from people interested in the law of attraction or personal development. I know many people have vision boards and big dreams. Here is my dream…

    I want to collect dreams. Dreams of anything. Actual dreams when you sleep, or dreams of where you want to be in 5 years, what you want right this instance, dreams of career, family, relationships, money, life. Anything. I want to leave it open-ended just as a “secret” can be. A chance for us to share our goals, our desires, our dreams. If you have a vision board that’s already a great start. If you have a secret that is full of hope and love, then you fit right in.

    It is a combination of 43 things, Post Secret and a chance to make our dreams come alive in picture form. Feel free to write stories or captions. I would love to see anything your creative mind has to offer.

    So here’s the bottom line,
    Illustrate your dreams (passions, goals, desires, dreams when you sleep, stories and more) how you see best and please send them to every1dreams@gmail.com. (will be kept anonymous unless requested otherwise)

    My dream can be found at the site of Every1 Dreams
    http://every1dreams.blogspot.com

    Thanks so much,

    This means the world to me!

    Brian Wu

  5. Chris says:

    You’ve mentioned getting hate mail a few times since I started reading your site.

    Most of it seems like pretty innocuous productivity stuff to me, I’d be curious to know what posts of yours have gotten people’s backs up so much.

    I can’t see myself getting all that mad at advice on how to change my habits or budget my time… Maybe I need to look through your archives to refresh my memory, but all I can think of is the atheism article and the Introvert/Extrovert one.

    Or is it more general, because you’re young or whatever?

  6. Diego says:

    I actually understand what you are trying to say, but there are loads of people on the internet who do the very thing you are speaking of; they are called ‘trolls’.

  7. Hi Scott,
    that’s what I’m experiencing now. I blogged for 5 months already, I find very passionate about it. Thanks for sharing this to me, that really encouraged me to respond all the critics surrounding me.

    Thank you very much! This message touched me a lot.
    Keep on writing!
    Robert

  8. Scott Young says:

    Diego,

    Hate mail doesn’t mean that your writing is good. It is more a sign of extremes. The most insightful/powerful ideas challenge assumptions and can create a backlash. Then again, you can spam people and get hate thrown back at you.

    My point is that negative feedback isn’t correlated with writing quality. It seems to have almost a quadratic relationship with the worst and best ideas producing the most negative feedback.

    Positive feedback tends to go up with quality (at least, over time), so it might be a more accurate measure than hate mail.

    Chris,

    Why I Don’t Download Music was a recent post with a lot of topic-specific criticism. True “hate-mail” tends not to be post specific, and I get it through the contact form. The amount of hate-mail I get is dwarfed by positive feedback, so on an average it is actually very small. But if you get hate mail, it never feels that way. My point is to try to give some perspective to it.

  9. […] for many others. This is the time when you have to learn to accept criticism. Scott H. Young has a very interesting post explaining the criticism that we get. He was saying that it is not because they are jealous or they […]

  10. […] H. Young thinks that “if you’re not getting hate mail, you’re writing probably sucks“. He adds, “It took me a while to realize this, but hate mail can actually be a sign […]

  11. zdoll says:

    “It isn’t really there fault,” => their

  12. Dot Com Dud says:

    I don’t get hate mail but maybe I am just too nice? I don’t think my writing sucks, as you put it, but it is probably far from controversial. Should I try to encourage more “heated” opinions from readers at the risk of sacrificing my usual writing style?

  13. Pedro says:

    Dale Carnegie – “the more important a dog is, the more satisfaction other people get in kicking him”.

    As you might noticed Scott, the president is always condemned in public for all the bad things he does. Never he is praised for the good ones that are many times more important than the bad ones.

  14. Derek Murphy says:

    I appreciate this site and like what you’re doing; the design is great, too. This post was a nice reminder for me; I stopped working on my website, http://www.holyblasphemy.net after getting a couple “I’m praying that you go to Hell” emails. I’ll get back into it; definitely would like to be as productive as you.

  15. Keith Grimes says:

    Great post. I’m actually quoting your line “your writing probably sucks” in a blog post of my own. Nice work.

  16. […] 10 Writing is a task best left to the professionals. It’s hard work. Your writing probably sucks. And why would anyone want to read anything you have to […]

  17. […] sarcastic or send you hate mail, you might actually do something important.’ when writing an article on hate mail and how a lack of it either shows complete support or that what you’re doing might not be […]

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

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