There’s still a little bit of Wednesday left here in California so here’s this Wednesday’s writing tip.
In honor of beckylevine and her book sale, today’s tip has to do with criticism.
As writers we all have to deal with criticism of some kind or another. Most of the time, I hope, it is of a constructive kind. A teacher or a critique friend points out how we can make a story stronger. But sometimes it feels like there are people who really do want us to fail just so they can say mean things to us. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who has had that kind of experience.) So here are a couple of my thoughts on criticism.
We can’t avoid criticism. When you try to avoid criticism you give energy to the negative comments and that takes the energy away from your real work.
It’s a waste of creative energy to avoid or argue with criticism from experts and critics. We are all entitled to our opinions.
The verb criticize was originally neutral between praise and censure. When you critique you’re supposed to apply critical thinking to a work in order to analyze and interpret the work. Alas, for many of us, the word "criticize" has evolved into a negative definition.
Early on in my career I received some helpful criticism on one my books from a generous editor. She pointed out the good and the bad of my book and encouraged me to rework it and submit again. Because I was so new to the business and so hyper-sensitive to criticism, the only word I heard of her 2 page single-space revision letter was "no." Years later I found that letter and realized that she had been offering me the opportunity to improve my work and possibly make a sale. I have never looked at rejection the same way since.
You may not like the initial feeling of being criticized but you will always learn from it, even if it is only how NOT to criticize someone else.