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.

Blogging

Some Reasons Why I Love Blogging

  • I love creating. It’s my favourite. I like making stuff. It’s fun to start with nothing and turn it into something.
  • I love the community. Honestly, I never expected it to be so supportive and encouraging. Other creators inspire me.
  • I love control. I get to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
  • I love the old editor. More than the new one anyway.
  • I love seeing my progress. Sometimes I get so caught up with life that I don’t realize how far I’ve come. So it’s nice to look back and see where I was five years ago compared to where I am now.
  • I love receiving feedback. Positive or constructive. Both let me know what works and what I can work on.
  • I love growth. Blogging has helped me grow in so many ways. I’m grateful for this journey. I hope it never ends. I’ve not only grown as a blogger, but I’ve also grown as a human being.
  • I love learning. I’ve learned a little about a lot of things through trial and error. I know there’s still a lot for me to learn.
  • I love being challenged. When I started, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Blogging is hard. If it was easy, everyone could be a blogger.
  • I love connecting. I’m terrible at interacting with people in real life, but I really appreciate every online interaction. Thank you.
School

Using Feedback From Professors And Teachers

So I finally brought myself to check some of the feedback I’ve gotten on my papers. I’m trying to incorporate my professors’ comments for the final essays.

It’s great when I’m on the same page as your professor. Makes my life that much easier. And a little validation doesn’t hurt either.

At least, I’m somewhat on the right track.

I don’t love my grades. Shocking, I know.

Now if only I can ace everything else.

Even though I don’t always agree with my professors, I try to see where they’re coming from. Besides, I have no patience, so I’d make a horrible teacher.

But I certainly have my personal preferences when it comes to writing. Subjectivity will be the death of me.

I ought to keep a record of the feedback professors give me. I’m sure I get similar comments all the time.

Because I’m stubborn, I tend to do what I want, regardless of whether a teacher loves my idea or not. I’d rather work on something I’m passionate about than please the person grading my work.

I try to find my own angle, put my own spin on things. When I stumble upon a diamond in the rough, I work hard on refining the idea until it shines.

I’m a little worried at how many words I have to write and edit in the next month. But I’m a writer. What’s several thousand words in 2 weeks when I’ve written 50,000 in a month?

My problem isn’t so much the mechanical or technical aspects of writing but rather the ideas and arguments. Why? I don’t always follow instructions. So I’m a rebel.

If I elect not to pursue further education after undergrad, I may never receive feedback from a teacher or professor again once I’m done. I think that’s one thing I won’t miss.

Editing

My Problem With Peer And Self Review

Let me start by saying I love one and hate the other. Care to hazard a guess?

In high school, I hated peer review sessions. Who doesn’t jump with joy at exchanging work with classmates and giving feedback for improvement?

I didn’t get a lot of helpful or useful comments from others. People tossed my essay back and told me it was perfect. I fumed inside because I knew my first draft was not even close to perfection. Imagine a world where first drafts were great.

I almost always came out of peer review workshops feeling a bit frustrated. OK, a lot.

Even though I tried my best to give constructive criticism, some people didn’t reciprocate. I don’t blame them. More than any other institution, I feel like in high school people are at a completely different level on their journey. Don’t get me started with teenage maturity.

To be fair, editing is hard. Giving feedback isn’t a walk in the park. But I guess what bothered me the most was the people who didn’t take it seriously. I can picture fourteen year old me making comments and suggestions while everyone else around me talked about whatever high schoolers talk about. I grew up fast.

Obviously, the more I edit other people’s work, the better I am at reviewing my own work. That said, I can’t look at my writing the same way someone else can. Still, I should charge a premium anytime someone asks me for feedback.

I’ve never given much thought as to what I think about when editing my own work.

I care about consistency and clarity whenever I’m critiquing. I also love brevity as much as the best blog reader. Wordiness will likely be the death of me.

Ever since I’ve learned about parallel structure, I’m careful around lists. This ties in with consistency to an extent. If you have two verbs in your list, I don’t want to see a noun phrase at the end of it. That’s guaranteed to drive me crazy.

Shout out to all the writers who have amazing flow. I aspire to write like you. Because I never outline, my first drafts are a hot mess.

Surprise, I’m such a stickler for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Sometimes the small details make the biggest difference. But I like rule breakers within reason. I’m one myself. Tough to get around not doing things by the book in academia though.

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.

Writing

Why I Have A Hard Time Sharing My Creative Writing

Sharing my creative writing with others is a challenge to say the least.

The other day I was trying to pick a story to send to two strangers for their feedback. I had the hardest time emailing a copy of my work to them.

There's something personal about openly sharing your stories with someone else. To an extent, some of my blog posts are personal, and I don't have a problem posting those for the world to see. With creative writing however, I feel as though I'm exposing more of myself.

As I've said, these two are strangers. I think I'd be more comfortable with sharing if I knew them longer, trusted them more. I'm sure they're wonderful human beings. It's still tough to open up and feel vulnerable in front of people you hardly know.

If I had a penny for every times I've said I wanted to get better, I'd be one wealthy woman. Even though I do hope to improve, I'm not the best at asking for feedback. Ditto for applying any feedback I receive.

I'm stubborn. Worse, I have a gigantic ego that loves to get in the way. On a good day, I'm able to shove it aside for the sake of my art.

Every time I've put my art first before my ego, the former benefits greatly.

I say the following not to brag, but to make it clear that I had a different, unusual path when I started out as a writer and blogger. I found success early on in both endeavours. In some ways, I was even more successful a few years ago than I have been recently.

So, for many reasons, my ego was inflated in high school. A part of me thought I always knew what was best, what was right.

Of course, that's not always the case.

Over time, my ego has taken a good beating.

I'm at a point now where I feel confident, not cocky in my abilities. After all, I've come a long way, but I still have plenty of room for improvement.

I can identify strengths and weaknesses in my own work. But having an outside perspective point out certain problems can make all the difference.

What I want to say ultimately boils down to these points:

Sharing your writing with strangers isn't easy. It can be a vulnerable experience. That's okay, though. So long as you don't let your ego stop you from improving your art in every way possible. And sometimes the best thing you can do is to put your ego aside and listen to others.

I think I've reaffirmed what I knew all along. Egos suck.

Writing

Writing Workshops

I tend to hate writing workshops because the only feedback I ever get is…

  • “This is good.”
  • “I like it.”
  • “There’s nothing you need to change.”

But I had a much better, more constructive experience today.

I wonder when my luck is going to run out.