A Few Thoughts on Constructive Criticism

A common thing I’ve seen in the writing community, especially from beginning writers, is the inability to take constructive criticism. How many times have you given someone a suggestion on a piece of writing only to see the author’s eyes glaze over, either with anger, disappointment, or even an incredulous glare? What comes as a response? A thanks from frowning lips, or a silent nod? I’ve seen them all, and I’ve handed them out myself once upon a time. This was, and continues to be, one of the hardest battles for me: the ability to take another’s criticism and not let it destroy me. It’s hard to have someone tear your work apart, after all, it’s your baby.

However, I realized over time that there’s an even harder critic I must overcome, and that one lives in the pits of my chest, where it’s easy to grab on and squeeze. Hard. Sometimes, to the point where breathing seems impossible. It’s this inner critic that I fight with every day, and I’ve come to realize that once she is content, then, I’m ready to face what anyone else has to say. I know I’ll survive. After all, I survived myself.

So, before you go asking someone to critique your work, double check it yourself. Step aside from your work, detach yourself, and read it as if it were the first time. Even if this means putting it aside for a few hours, days, weeks, or even years. Believe it or not, you’ll be able to pick out your own mistakes, and will gain the necessary tool to make your work shine. And I don’t say this as someone who knows everything, no, I’m still going through the process myself. I’ll probably still be going through it in my last hours, and that’s okay. It’s part of the life I’ve chosen for myself.

Well, have a good night everyone.

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One thought on “A Few Thoughts on Constructive Criticism”

  1. I wish my post weren’t so draining, involved and lengthy so I could be about 3 or 4 ahead and let them percolate a bit before posting. I often tweak during proofing so I know if I could let them “mature” a bit before publishing they would benefit.

    Don’t think I have missed the obvious and am ignoring that my posts may be unnecessarily detailed, verbose, repetitive and redundant, not unlike this comment and this very sentence. I’m sure that would be a good place to start having more time.

    [I do have to say though, I like the way i wrote that sentence so the syntax exhibits said redundancy … and repetition … and detail … and verbosity. Just like this one. Writing is such fun.]

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