Writing

How To Deal With Criticism

Criticism isn’t easy to deal with even when it’s constructive.

Changing my mindset has helped me. I don’t want to be defensive or reactionary every time someone gives me feedback. That’s not the best attitude to have.

Besides, constructive criticism helps me improve and get better. I should listen to others, especially when they offer suggestions I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

I try not to take any comments about my work personally. That’s obviously easier said than done, but more often than not, no one is attacking me. They’re just making a statement about my story.

I tend to seek out people I respect. I’m much more open to their opinions if I look up to them.

But when I receive feedback from a stranger or someone I don’t like, I do my best to see where s/he is coming from. After all, nobody has the same experiences as me.

What’s more, we can learn something from everyone, which is why I want to hear from different voices.

That said, I still filter. Not every remark is useful or helpful. The negative comments that serve no purpose are best ignored, forgotten.

Ultimately, I want to keep improving. There’s always room for improvement. I’m not perfect. I haven’t mastered everything, and I never will.

It’s important to hear people out whenever they provide helpful feedback. I’ll take what works and apply it to my own work. I can throw away what doesn’t.

At the end of the day, constructive criticism is part of life.

Editing

The Experience Of Giving And Receiving Feedback

My brain melted. I spent an evening reading two stories and trying to critique them, constructively of course.

I’ve forgotten how much work giving feedback is, especially to people you hardly know.

I keep going back and forth between I’m being too harsh or honest. Besides, I would want people to be truthful by providing useful suggestions, not tell me my piece is perfect, which everyone did in elementary and high school.

I like to think I have a good grasp of grammar, so I can’t help myself when I see a comma splice or a dangling modifier. But I also realize grammar isn’t always the main issue. Writers want and need feedback on style, flow, etc.

Editing is a lot of work. It’s one thing to edit your own story. It’s a whole other beast entirely when you have to critique someone else’s.

I try to give feedback I’d like to receive. So I do what I can to balance content suggestions with grammatical corrections.

Ideally, I could sit down with someone and talk to them face to face about their work. But when does that ever happen?

On the other side, getting feedback is great but still a challenge.

I hate my ego sometimes for getting in the way.

I don’t always apply every comment. At times, I am dismissive or defensive.

It helps to get an outside perspective on your writing. And I think having strangers critique your story has its advantages. They don’t know you like your family and friends do. Most of the time, they don’t have to go out of their way to protect your feelings.

But I’m careful with my comments. I include question marks following my suggestions. I say maybe and perhaps so many times, it’s not even funny. I tend to add a disclaimer at the beginning or end, saying something along the lines of take what works, toss what doesn’t. If anything is unclear, ask me to clarify.

I guess I’m well aware my ego is big but fragile, yet I don’t want to hurt anyone else’s because I’ve been on both sides of the proverbial coin.

Writing

How To Ask For Feedback And Apply It

I’m going to focus more on feedback for writers. But the following advice could be applicable in general as well.

Write down your worries.

In other words, what’s holding you back from asking and receiving help? Getting your fears on the page might make you realize you have nothing to be afraid of. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

Find someone you trust.

You’re more likely to apply someone’s remarks if you respect the person. Which isn’t to say you can’t approach a stranger for help. Do what works for you.

Ask.

The answer will always be no if you don’t. Imagine how much your work will benefit if you have someone look over your writing for mistakes. Or at the very least, places for improvement because you’re a perfect, flawless writer.

Set boundaries.

Let the other individual know what kind of feedback you want. That way, he or she can focus specifically on your flow, grammar, structure, etc. Better yet, you get the advice you want, and you won’t be blindsided by a curveball out of left field. I hope my baseball analogies and similes don’t bore you all to tears by the end of the year.

Listen.

Don’t be dismissive, especially if you solicited their suggestions in the first place. Hear them out at the very least. They might say something useful. They might not. But either way, you have nothing to lose.

Thank them.

For their time and feedback. After all, they didn’t have to provide you with comments or a critique for that story you’re working on. Unless you’re paying them to be your editor.

Don’t take anything personally.

Easier said than done, I know. But remember no one is attacking you as a person or your work either. Most people are just trying to help.

Use what works. 

You don’t have to use every suggestion.You’re more than welcome to, obviously. But ultimately it’s your story, and you’re the writer of it. Not your computer. Not your cat. Not your chicken.

That’s all my tired brain can come up with. I hope this post is useful or at least not entirely useless.

Good luck asking and applying feedback to make your work better. That’s the goal. I believe in you. Put your ego aside. Improve your writing abilities. I like to think life gets easier. But maybe nothing ever does. Either way, you have what it takes.