Monday, January 3, 2011

Last Writes: Dealing With Criticism of Your Writing (Part 1)

Dealing with critiques can be painful
So you finally opened up and showed your writing to the world and someone had bad things to say. Quickly! Curl up and die over there! Underneath the sofa, you can fit!
Or you can remember that it’s not the end of the world, not the end of your writing career, and not the best you can ever do when touching pen to paper (or fingers to keys)...

It’s important to remember that there are two kinds of criticism you can receive: one has the intention of being helpful and should be accepted graciously, even though it stings (and you can always decide to ignore it and pretend the world is flat!); the other kind will crush your soul and make you want to stab someone in the eye with a #2 yellow. You can deal with both.

Below is a profile of the different kind of people who might critique your writing. These don’t necessarily represent specific people in your life, rather they are psychological profiles of the kind of people who will review your work and give a cornucopia of advice, criticism and stupid comments. It also includes a little on how you can deal with each of them so that a negative review doesn’t turn into your “Last Write.”

Your Mom
Your mom loves you (at least I hope she does. I’m sorry if this isn’t the case, but hey, who doesn’t need therapy these days?) and when you were three and threw your alphabet soup on the wall and it formed the word “Algrahapmhernunpoop” she knew you were destined for literary greatness.
It’s important to have someone in your life that you know when you show your work to them they will love it. Not necessarily because “The Saga of Ralph the Knight Made Out of Cheese” was a winner, but because this person believes in you and wants you to succeed.

Keep in mind that this won’t be your last stop on your voyage across the sea of critics, but it’s always nice to have a safe harbor in which to return.

Your Friend Who Writes
It’s easier than you might think to find a friend who is an aspiring writer just like you. Share with some of your friends that you have a little story going and you might be surprised how many of them will admit they dabble in the art of the written word as well.

Having a friend to share work with can be incredibly helpful. Not only can you trade critiques and tips, but having someone going through the same process as yourself can be energizing. Trading edits and reviews and is a great place to start. A good Writing Friend knows you well enough to know how to present a critique in a way that won’t sting too much.

Take your friend’s critiques and advice seriously. You may not always agree with them, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable. Remember that your work can always use improvement. Work closely with them. Keep in mind that one or two people’s point of view isn’t going to tell you everything you need know about your work, but it’s a good start and a good way to get through the first few drafts.

The Illiterate Ass-Clown on The Internet
At some point during your writing career you will be tempted to post your work on one of the myriad of online writing communities. While it is possible to get some good feedback from talented writers it’s far more likely that you will run into the Illiterate Ass-Clown (IAC). This person will leave comments such as “Ur wrting sucks dumass ur so lame lol,” or “your righting is not so good,” or even “Nice stuff” if you are lucky enough to find a non-bitter one.

It’s pretty much impossible to receive anything too useful from an IAC. Really the best you can hope for is they don’t stumble across a sensitive area of your writing psyche and start poking little holes in it with their disemvoweled Internet lingo. The key is not to take this sort of criticism too personally. Distance yourself from your work and ask yourself “does anything this idiot is saying make sense?” If you truly don’t think so, then shrug it off and move forward knowing you are smarter than some guy or lady on the Internet.
I will feature some more critic profiles in a later post. In the meantime, do you have your own critic profile you want to share? Add it in the comment box below or send us a message on Twitter and continue the conversation.


1 comment:

  1. "Disemvoweled Internet Lingo" Might just be the best phrase I've heard in weeks. :D


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