Published at www.RobynLaRue.com
“The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism” ~Norman Vincent Peale
For most of us, criticism is not something we enjoy. However, for writers, constructive criticism is a gold mine of information for how to improve our craft, our stories, and our processes. I’m working through the line edit responses for my novel right now and feeling mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m SO grateful that issues are caught and tagged so they can be fixed. On the other hand, I’m chagrined at the number of places marked. As a result, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the value of criticism. And how I can repay my line editor for her hard work.
“A creative life cannot be sustained by approval any more than it can be destroyed by criticism.” ~ Will Self
What makes for good criticism? I’ve been blessed to work with wonderful people on my books as I’ve progressed from writing only for myself to writing for publication. For the past five years, I’ve had other eyes and hands that care about the stories I tell. Here are four things I and my critique partners have learned about edits and constructive criticism as we’ve work on each other’s prose over the course of the last few year:
It has to be about the writing.
Bottom line, my editors, beta readers, and critique partners are all working to improve the story. It isn’t about my ego or my feelings. Any time I begin to take things personally, I sit back and remind myself: It has to be about the writing. Understand that others are investing in your story (and you as a writer).
“Every time I create something, whether an idea or a work of art, initially, its supposed completion seems absolutely perfect to me. However the more I think about it, stare it down, the more it marinates in my soul over the hours, days, and weeks, the more flaws I start to find in it; and finally, the more I’m pressed to continue enhancing it….” ~Criss Jami
No writer outside of a rare phenom is going to write a novel, make a single pass, and achieve perfection. I don’t think that such a genius exists, though experience and skill make the process shorter.