Criticism: Take That!

Criticism

Relatively small word, huge meaning.  Criticism can be hurtful but if given in the correct manner, helpful.

As an author, I opened myself up to criticism.  It was one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do before.  I don’t have a thick skin.  I get hurt easily, and when someone downs something I love doing, I’m not going to lie, it hurts.

But, as it turns out, I’ve learned a lot over the past year based on some criticism I’ve received about Piercing Through the Darkness.  I’ve listened and learned about some habits of mine that might exactly not work in a novel.  I’ve learned that sometimes you have to ignore what things people say because they are too hurtful and not constructive at all.  (Luckily, I haven’t had to deal with this directly but a few of my friends have.)

I remember the first time I sat in a writing class.  I poured my heart into a short story, the short story that Piercing Through the Darkness was based on.  I turned it in and waited for my other classmates to read it and criticize it.

When that day came, I was a bundle of nerves.  (Note: There were only 6 of us in our creative writing class.)  Some of the feedback was very helpful; some of it not.  When I made it to university and was taking the courses required to get my emphasis on Creative Writing, I was even more nervous.  There were about 20 people who were reading my short stories.

I got the work back with ‘X’s on two or three pages not to mention countless other paragraphs marked out.  My heart sank.  I had marks on there that said, “NECESSARY!!!!!”  “SERIOUSLY!!”  I wanted to crawl under my desk and pretend that I wasn’t even there and that they weren’t talking to me.

In edits though, I realized they were right.  What they had marked out wasn’t necessary.  So, I edited and came out with a completely different story than when I began.  A much better story.

As an author, we all know that edits are IMPORTANT.  If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ll also know that I HATE editing.  I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.  I mean you can only read your own novel so many times without going crazy.  That’s why I haven’t re-read Piercing Through the Darkness.

Okay… I digress.

Criticism may hit hard, and when they (whoever they are) say, you have to have a thick skin being a writer, they weren’t wrong.

I’m quickly growing a thick skin.  Rejection letters, people who don’t like my novella – well, I can’t take it personally.  People are going to hate what I write just as some will like or hopefully love it.

So, I take these not-so-good reviews and use them to my advantage.  I’ll use them to make my writing better, and I’ll use them as a tool to keep myself humble when I hit it big.  Okay, just kidding about that last part.  But I will use them in order to make this year a better writing year than I did last year.  I may not write three novels this year like last, but by gosh, I’ll write a dang good one!

So, take that criticism and turn it upside down.  Wait that’s a smile.  Take that criticism and make your writing better!  It can’t hurt, right?

What do you think?

18 thoughts on “Criticism: Take That!

  1. Pingback: How Critics Made Me a Better Ninja: The Woes (and Pros) of Criticism « alexandracorinth

  2. There’s something positive to be found in every piece of writing. It’s the critic’s job to find that, as well as to show what can be improved. It’s the critic’s job to uncover the possibilities in the writing. That’s a nice personal piece, Em, thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. 🙂

      I agree. As I sometimes review books, I know how important back feedback (constructive of course) and praise is. I agree. There’s always something positive to be found in every piece of writing. And when you give the author the feedback, it can help them grow with their writing. It’s helped me tremendously as I look back over the past few years that I’ve been writing.

      Again, thanks for commenting!🙂

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  3. Critiscm can be nasty medicine to swallow, all right, even with a spoonful of sugar and a song from Julie Andrews. But it’s true: Without feedback, how are we to know what we’re doing wrong — and, at least as importantly, what we’re doing right?

    Whenever I need to listen to a critique, I think back to– hmm, to something that would actually make for a good blog post!😀 *inspired* Thanks for the spark, Em!

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    1. Yay for inspiration!! You need to check the pingback here if you haven’t already read the post by Alexandra Corinth. She too was inspired by my post! I feel totally awesome today!

      You guys rock!

      But yes, you are right about criticism! 🙂

      And now I have that song stuck in my head.😉

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  4. Interesting timing, because I was reviewing some feedback just today. A few beta readers read some chapters of mine last fall. I didn’t do anything with the feedback at the time (it’s always a good idea to let criticism settle before you act on it), but I was just re-reading the whole thing all today. I’m thinking of working more on that project (I’m sort of working on everything at the moment, until I figure out which I should focus on). The criticism was mostly very helpful, but you do open yourself up when you put your stuff out there. But that’s nothing to how much you open yourself up when you publish, so better to have your weaknesses pointed out by a small number of friends rather than by a large number of strangers.🙂

    And now I have that song in my head, too…🙂

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    1. Oh my gosh, I know! I’d rather my friends tell me I’m a horrible author than complete strangers. That sounds odd, but I like for my friends to be honest with me. When completely strangers hate my work, I tend to feel like I’ll never make it as an author.😛

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  5. It’s a good thing you were the first person to review my book!lol I couldn’t agree with you more, I hate criticism, especially people who just do it for the sake of doing it. Every bad thing someone has said about my work I take into consideration though, and I hope it will make me a better writer in the end. As long as we still have family and friends there to tell us something nice, I’m sure we can handle the bad!🙂

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    1. haha! Well, I was glad to do review! I can tell you after seeing the sneak peek of Eden West, I’m sure whenever I manage to read it, the review will be even better! 🙂

      But yes, we can handle it!

      Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to your guest post on here tomorrow!

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  6. Publishing really is a stepped course on learning to take hard knocks, isn’t it? First there are the kindly-given words of wisdom at workshops and in courses. Then there are the to-the-point but still hard-to-hear rejection letters. Eventually, you publish, and get the “meh” (or worse) reviews.

    The first one at each level stings the worst, but then it gets less painful. You can’t just to the top of the criticism pyramid without working your way up, though, so congratulate yourself for taking it at ever stage!!!

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      1. Well, I just noticed a mistake in one of my own comments, so I’m right there with you!!🙂

        As far as the criticism pyramid goes, you are entirely correct! It’s taken me a while to realize this, but hey, at least I’ve come to that realization. So, thank you! 😀

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      2. If writers were judged by their blog comments we’d all be in trouble.🙂

        Also, from what I’ve heard, workshops and courses aren’t always as supportive as we’d like to think. I’ve heard some horror stories about that. I expect the crit session at the beginning of the movie Wonder Boys (“His stories always make me want to kill myself”) has some basis in fact.

        I took writing courses in college, and I don’t remember the students’ comments at all, though I remember the professor very well. I think I lucked out with him.

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      3. I remember a lot of comments from my fellow classmates in my writing courses in college. I lucked out with a great professor as well. 🙂

        I’ve never attended a workshop either. I’ve kind of wanted to try one, but I feel like I don’t have time to breathe these days, let alone join a workshop. lol

        Oh, and yes, we’d all be in trouble if we were judged by our blog comments.

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  7. You are not alone. When I finished the first draft of my novel in 1989, university colleagues read it and marked it up, as requested, for copy editing, but they also added their personal opinions of the writing, content, topic, etc.–all positive, up-lifting and encouraging comments. Many years later, I revised it again, sent it off to professional editors, and published it as a new indie author. The reviews I got from a certain paid eBook review event online–by critics who got free books–were, according to other writers, “poorly written personal attacks, not reviews.” Ouch. Yes, they stung, but what I finally came to realize was that everyone who reads those reviews will most likely have the same assessment as my fellow writers–that they were not reviews at all, but personal attacks. We do, in fact, get back what we put out. ;>)

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      1. I’m all ears for constructive criticism. As a teacher, I received evaluations from students, peers, and administrators for nearly thirty years. No thin skin here. I also know the mantra, “Consider the source.”

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