Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Big "C" in Criticism

Criticism can be discouraging 
Ouch! Did someone just say that about MY work? But I thought what I wrote was perfect. How can someone be so harsh, inconsiderate, and heartless?

As a writer the above probably sounds like some of your own thoughts. After all, what you wrote is your work, the words that took you so long to think of, the sentences that took awhile to form and then someone has the audacity to criticize your work? It sounds unjustifiable, wrong, and unfair. But it happens to the best of us. The top bestseller authors still go through this all the time and continuously will. Criticism goes hand in hand with writing. We write, we will get criticized. When we write we are basically putting ourselves out there. We have to develop a strong skin and blow off the hits that come at us. If we take every single rejection slip and critical comment personal, we will never get anywhere. Everyone is looking at us as writers. Some will lightly read our work whereas others will read it with a microscope, looking closely at every word. The people that do that don't understand the hard work that comes with writing, they don't appreciate it. Many times they read because they want to find something wrong in what you're writing.

But then there are the others who criticize and it should be accepted. They say what they say with a purpose, wanting you to be a better and stronger writer. Criticism can make you a better writer in many ways:

  • Criticism can teach you how to be more humble about your writing
  • Criticism is valuable because it teaches you when your work isn't good enough and must be made better
  • Criticism makes you climb steep mountains and walk rocky paths in order to finally achieve what you're aiming for
  • Criticism can give you a better picture about your writing 
  • Criticism can show you who you really are by the way you handle the situation 
  • Criticism encourages you to resubmit that piece in a better way
  • Criticism tells you to change the quality of your work
  • Criticism makes you a real writer
  • Criticism toughens you up; this is your part to stand back up
  • Criticism is proof that your work is out there 

Criticism can make you a better writer!

The moment you decide to become a writer and share your work you must expect some sort of criticism to come your way. It is always easier for an outsider's first response to be negative rather than positive. But this will happen. When I received the very first criticism on a short story, I was appalled. I was upset, hurt, devastated, frustrated, flustered, and annoyed. I didn't want to speak with the person who looked over my work. I refused to accept anything this person said and couldn't get myself to talk with them either. It took me a few days to realize that criticism will come but it counts how we deal with it. I dealt with it in an immature way, almost losing a friendship. We must remember that we write because we can't not write. We also write because we have too many ideas freely roaming in our mind. If someone tells you that you can't simply write then I say it's time you look elsewhere for friendships. 

Criticism will come in many different forms. There is the kind of criticism that will do us good. The kind that will grow you as a writer, making you aware of simple mistakes and things that need some rewriting. But then there is the criticism that is senseless to adhere to. It's the kind where someone has nothing better to do than find something wrong with your work. Remember, in order to become perfect in what you do you'll always have to try harder and aim for the best. Certain people will come in your life to help you become that better writer. They will give you tips and hints on how to make the best possible manuscript. However, you must also be aware that just because someone says something doesn't mean it's always the best option to change what you originally stated. Follow your voice and thoughts. 

But yes, the next time that harsh and hurtful critique comes, accept it with an open mind and smile. It's hard. It hurts. And it seems all so wrong. It takes time. It takes time just like everything else, but I promise, eventually those terrible words will come your way and you will have the strength to fight it off. May it be years, but there will come a day where you will know that YOU write because YOU can! And no matter what people say about your work doesn't matter. You're doing this because you simply CAN'T NOT write. Pick up your pen and a paper right now and jot ten things you're thankful for. Remember that everything starts off with a blessing and then the rest will come from there.