CRITICISM. This word can strike fear into even the most experienced author. You put your heart into your work and developing your stories. The thought of someone telling you that your hard work is “not good enough” is terrifying. However, if you can understand what criticism truly is and learn to use it as a tool rather than a crutch, your writing will flourish.
As mentioned in my earlier article, “Removing the Fear from Publishing,” the fear of criticism has been one of my largest obstacles. After receiving responses from many other authors expressing their ability to relate to this fear, I have decided to write a follow up article based on strategies that I use to help myself understand and benefit from the criticism I receive.
Understand what criticism really means.
As an author, criticism occurs when someone reads your writing and then analyses the positive and negative aspects of that work. This can be very difficult to receive; especially after you have put so much of yourself into your story. It is easy to feel that disapproval of your story is disapproval of you. However, if criticism is constructive, it can be one of the greatest resources for a growing author. You publish your works to connect with an audience and there is no better way to gain insight into that connection than receiving feedback from those very readers. While criticism can be difficult, it can also lead to powerful growth.
Consider the source.
Is the criticism coming from someone who is trying to help you or hurt you? Though it doesn’t always make it easier to receive, criticism can be helpful when coming from someone who is genuine about giving beneficial advice. However, if the source of negative criticism is someone who wants to bring you down, one of the best things you can do is realize this and try to move on. Though it may be hard to move on right away, time will make it easier. Whatever you do, don’t let it discourage you from continuing to write.
Appreciate your feedback.
Part of accepting constructive criticism is taking the time to appreciate the person who gave it to you. He or she took time to read your work and provide you with advice in order to help you better your writing. Focusing on this will help you turn feedback into a tool for success.
Determine if the feedback is appropriate for you.
Just because you receive feedback, it does not mean you have to follow it. Criticism is one person’s opinion. This may differ from other people in your target audience or may even contradict something that you have set out to accomplish. It is your job as the author to use your judgment to determine whether specific recommendations benefit you.
Apply appropriate recommendations.
If you believe that someone’s criticism is appropriate, apply what you have learned. This is how you grow as a writer. The more you begin to consider and accept criticism, the more your writing will benefit. With time, you will be able to look back on your earlier works and the growth in your skills as author will be obvious.
Like most fears, the only way to attack a fear of criticism is to face it. Once you learn how to separate your emotions and apply a reasonable outlook, you will find greater appreciation for others who help you understand your audience. No matter what you do, NEVER let criticism defeat you. Overcome it and use it.
Author of “Talking Tales: The Bright Red Tricycle“ and “Talking Tales: Cricket’s Guitar“