I’ve had people ask me to critique their work, just as I ask my Beta readers to critique mine. For the most part, I’m happy to do it because it’s a valuable service if given and received in the right spirit. Any story born and nurtured in the writer, whether a life story or fiction, deserves to be brought to life.
I consider it an honor to be invited into that place of vulnerability in the writer’s process of giving birth to their infant work of art. It can be as frightening for me as for the writer, especially if the work is already published and I’m asked for my ‘honest opinion.’ Not all published works should have been released at that stage in their development.
If I had published my books before they went through the process of self-editing, beta-reading, professional editing and more self-editing, they would have deserved unbridled criticism, and I would have done one of two things: stopped writing altogether, or learned from the criticism. During the process, I learned, and wrote and re-wrote. If I hadn’t decided that enough is enough, I would still be re-writing.
No book is perfect. There is room for improvement in everything we do. It doesn’t detract from the value of the story we have to tell.
I ran across this article today, and thought it was something we can apply to anything we do in life. Any thoughts?
by Daniella Levy
It hurts to hear people say negative things about something you poured your heart and soul into. It hurts to recognize that you are not perfect at what you do and can always use improvement.
However, criticism–good criticism–is a very powerful raw material you can use to build yourself as an artist.
People generally react to criticism non-constructively in one of two ways: resistance (dismissing, arguing, or denying) or withering (collapsing in feelings of shame and inadequacy). Both of these reactions deny you the opportunity to learn and grow from the feedback.
To get the most out of criticism, you have to be humble enough to admit your work has faults, yet confident enough that you won’t wither. You have to push past the instinct to get defensive, and instead, get curious about how the criticism can help you improve your craft.
Let’s break it down into five steps.