Handling criticism

One person loved my introductory line – another person hated it. They had some comments on my grammar. I took it like a Big Girl. Some of it I agreed with, some made me angry, and some I didn’t do.

Last month I decided to finally attend a writer’s critique group that I had been stalking on Facebook for several months. I brought the first fairytale story I had written to it.

The requirements of the group is you bring something that can be read out loud within 10 minutes. You hand around copies of the work to the others and they mark editing suggestions on the copies that are later returned to you.

The first time my heart pounded so fast and hard that it felt like an anxiety attack or heart attack (it was neither and I survived)! It was like being back in school again and having your turn to read.

One person loved my introductory line – another person hated it. They had some comments on my grammar. I took it like a Big Girl. Some of it I agreed with, some made me angry, and some I didn’t do.

And I came back two weeks later.

Why? Because the criticism improved my writing. It made me think over things. It gave me insight from minds not my own or my partners. It gave me a viewpoint of what my reader might see.

I saw a comment on a private forum from a writer on how she didn’t want a proofreader or copy editor to view her work because it was her baby. That dumbfounded me. You do realize that if you get published someone else will see your work? That reviews will be posted? Reviews you have no control over?

I get it though – I’m still learning to take criticism.

I’m now working with a copy editor. The first short story she worked on had me reeling a bit when I saw the markups but all her comments were valid and something I needed to see.

Now we’ve got 4 stories down and the last editing proof she gave me had us singing in the same harmony. I agreed with almost everything she pointed out – and the things I didn’t, I easily changed or adjusted so the reader confusion was eliminated. She’s figuring out my style and I’m seeing the things I’ve gotten sloppy about working on my own.

I’m getting more and more excited about The Wicked Wolves of Windsor and other Fairytales. It is really becoming a work that I’m going to be very proud of – and that is in part due to the writer’s critique group and my copy editor.

Criticism can work in your favor! You don’t have to agree with all their suggestions but you do need to be 1.) Open minded enough to listen; 2.) try not to take it personally. It is a criticism of your work not your person. And work can always be improved; and 3.) find people who can work with you, not against you. Criticism should be helpful and constructive – not like being flogged at the whipping post.

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