4.29.2016

3 Ways To Accept [Constructive Criticism] About Your Writing


"How do you deal with people criticizing your writing, even if it is constructive criticism from people who love you? Like I get real sensitive because my writing feels like my baby and it hurts my feelings if people I know like give suggestions and stuff. Any advice?"


"Have you had to deal with constructive criticism from your family and friends a lot? I sometimes feel like mine are my harshest critics. I know they do it because they want me to get better at writing, but it is still hard. Especially if they say my book ideas don't sound that great. It is hard."


These are two questions that I received on my ask.fm.

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First of all, constructive criticism pretty much defines itself.  It's an evaluation, assessment, an appraisal of a work - whether well done or not.  
Secondly, the 'constructive' part of the two-word phrase is merely to lessen the blow of someone finding fault in the writing.  
BUT just because someone criticizes your work doesn't mean that what you've written is bad.  Constructive criticism is a useful, encouraging, helpful bit of information from an outside perspective, on something that may or may not be made better.

There are three reminders to accepting constructive criticism that I have learned - and reminded myself - over the years I have been writing.

1) Just because someone is criticizing your work, doesn't mean it's bad.
You should accept the criticism and yes, give it a thought.  Maybe you could've worded this or that differently.  Maybe what you were feeling wasn't conveyed thoroughly enough in what you wrote.  Or maybe you need to quit using that specific scenario or metaphor because it's getting old and you're way more imaginative than that.  Learn to tolerate criticism and use it to move forward and better your experience as a writer.  You can understand where a person is coming from without agreeing with them, you know?

2)  You can choose whether or not to accept the criticism.
After all, YOU are the writer here.  YOU know what you were trying to convey through your words.  If someone criticizes you for being 'too dark', 'too vague', 'too romantic', well they can have that opinion, but it doesn't mean that that wasn't exactly what YOU were trying to transmit through your writing.  But also, remember that you aren't perfect.  Admit when you've made writing errors or that something could definitely be phrased better.  Anyone who has done anything had critics.  
Accepting criticism on something that you wrote from the heart, is like losing a game. There's a good loser or a sore one.

3)  Don't let the judgements of others determine what you write and how you write it.
Constructive criticism is good because it hones your skills.  Some people know how to give criticism well.  Others do not.  
But regardless of either of these, you need to find what you enjoy writing the most about and how you enjoy writing it.  And if someone just doesn't like it - for no other reason than that they just plain don't like it - then they don't have to read it.
A lot of people say to not take criticism personally.  That it's not about you, it's about the way others perceive what you've written.  Well, I disagree with that because, as any writer knows, every thing we write about has a piece of our heart in it.  Like the first question from ask.fm that I shared above says: "I get real sensitive because my writing feels like my baby..."  Oh I know how that is.  You put so much time and care and effort into writing something that it's like drops of blood from your heart are mingled with the ink on the page.  But also, remember this:


Also, to answer the second question, yes - my family and friends do offer me criticism on my work.  I've had some rude things said about what I've written, I've had lots of encouragement, and then I've had some 'You really want to say it that way?' type of feedback.  I used to be extremely sensitive when it came to my writing and what others thought of it.  But as I've learned more about what I write and how I best enjoy writing it, I've come to a point of accepting any sort of feedback with a dose of humbleness too.  Whether it's negative or positive, I keep myself focused on the ultimate goal - to become a better writer.  And that's something I will be working towards my whole life.  So why not accept the bad with the good, hm?

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