What to do with (gulp) Criticism…

dwarf-49807_1920I’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?

HOW TO TAKE CRITICISM AND TURN IT INTO GROWTH IN 5 STEPS

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.

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When Life Gets In The Way

My husband has learned that when I start snapping at him, yelling at the commentator on the news program, or shouting at other drivers on the road when we’re traveling, I probably need to eat something. Hunger makes me cranky — sometimes before I know I’m hungry.

The same thing happens when a life event interrupts my need to write; only then it’s more like mental constipation. Words, thoughts and ideas swirl around in my mind, stirred up by a faint sense of guilt and fueled by an anxious need to get my fingers on the keyboard. Then, when I do get a moment to write, nothing comes out.

The daily tasks and schedules of life are not what I’m talking about. I welcome and heartily participate in time spent with loved ones or in pursuit of relaxation or business. It’s the other stuff; when someone is sick, or the car needs repairs. It’s when one crisis chases another in quick succession. I know you know what I mean. If your heart is beating, you’ve been there, too.

So how do we handle it when life gets in the way of our writing? I came across this post by Melissa Donovan on the Writing Forward site, entitled “The Best 22 Writing Tips Ever“.  Click on it!

I was inspired to share it with you, and so my fingers have had a little exercise on the keyboard today, and my mind is feeling much clearer, thank you.