Learning to Accept Criticism
Let me be clear – I am rubbish at accepting criticism of any kind. I know that it is childish and immature, and is something I need to work, on but I am a sensitive little soul and my feelings get easily hurt. The thing is if I am going to be a successful writer and have my books published then I am going to have to grow a pair. It is only if we are able to critically evaluate our own performance at anything that we are able to improve. I know that, I really do, but every time I hear criticism of my writing I can feel my blood run cold. It feels like a criticism of me personally and a chorus of ‘see? You’re not good enough! Who do you think you are to believe that you can be a writer?’ echoes around my head.
When it comes to writing my training is limited to a GCSE in English taken in 1994 so it stands to reason that it is not always perfect in terms of grammar and structure. My husband is a very smart man and what we affectionately refer to in modern culture as a Grammar Nazi. He is also my biggest fan and harshest critic and for that I love him and hate him in equal measure. Sometimes it is incredibly hard to accept criticism from the people you love, often their love for you will cloud their judgement and they will be unable to be completely honest. When they are it hurts.
Last night, home alone, the familiar doubts set in about my talents, abilities, and whether or not I am, or ever will be, a real writer. I joined a couple of Facebook groups and got some great advice on what I could do to get real, honest feedback from other writers. Apparently I am not the only writer wracked with self doubt and insecurity, who knew? I was advised to join an online writers network called Scribophile, which works on a karma system. You critique other people’s work and build up karma points, and in return others provide critique on your writing. We shall see how this pans out, hopefully it will be an excellent source of constructive feedback.
Today a total stranger offered to read and critique my writing and I did two things that are unheard of for me. Not only did I accept his offer but I spoke to him on the phone. That may seem like a trivial thing but for me it was huge because I hate phones and do my utmost to avoid them at all times. I listened as he tore my work to shreds; sometimes I agreed with him, sometimes I didn’t. It was a challenging experience but I’m glad I did it. If it takes me one step closer to being the best writer that I can be then it was worth every excruciating second.