Wednesday, November 6, 2013

You're a Natural! And Other Veiled Insults...

**Warning: Rant in progress**

So... I get that the intention is complimentary.  They want to say, "Wow, you're really good at that!"  But what they really say is, "You're a natural! It's so easy for you!"  Which implies that you did not work your cute little butt off and struggle and toil to get good at the thing they are trying to compliment you for.  So I get that the intention is good, but the subtext is to negate all your effort... which kinda bugs me.

Like "you must have a really fast metabolism" ignores the hours of sweat in the gym or the effort spent planning nutritious low-cal meals.

You want something, you work for it, and then everyone tells you it was easy.  Why is that?  (I suspect it's because people don't want to face the fact that they are not willing to put in the work necessary...)

Did you know there have been studies showing that children respond better to effort-based praise than compliments on their natural gifts?  "You aced that test? You must have studied so hard!" is better than "You must be really smart!"  Because in the one you value the achievement and the effort they put into it, whereas in the other you value something they have no ability to change (their natural smartness) and imply that they would have had the same result without any effort at all.  So why should they work?  They're naturals!

Natural.  That word is really bugging me right now.

Or like this one I get all the time:  "Wow, you're so prolific.  You must write really fast."

Must I?  Truth is, I'm not abnormally fast.  I just write A TON.  I write lots more hours than a normal human being probably should.  I'm a binger - so when I'm in the middle of a first draft I can be more than a little obsessive about writing.  I wake up in the morning and before I get out of bed, I pull my computer onto my lap and I write.  I take my computer with me to lunch (when I remember that I'm hungry and I forgot to eat breakfast).  I have my computer on my lap at night as I ignore the latest baseball or football game or episode of The Voice.

So yes, I'm prolific.  Because I put in a freakish number of hours in front of my computer, so is it too much to ask that people don't diminish the work by saying all prolific writers are so fast and so natural and everything is so easy for us?  Sometimes it's not about easier.  Sometimes that "natural" is just working longer and harder and making different choices.  Just sayin'.

Rant complete.

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