Critiques are a necessary part of becoming a writer. In fact, I look forward to getting a manuscript or short story done just so I can share it with some of my trusty CPS and get their feedback. I know I’m too close to the material, and will never catch things like passive voice, plot holes, dialogue issues like they will.
But lately, the critiques I’ve received have been REALLY brutal, honest and mostly correct, but still brutal.
Now, don’t take this the wrong way, I’m NOT in any way angry about the critique ( or with my CP). I asked for truthful feedback and I got it.
My point is that not all the work you churn out is going to be top-notch the first time out of the gate. You may think you’ve got a good handle on this “writing gig,” but there is always more to be learned. Yes, I’m published, but I still can’t get away from filter words or over the top description sometimes. I’m still learning and that’s okay.
But let’s be honest, the harshness of the feedback still punched a whole in me for a while. Self-doubt crept in for a few moments, and I wondered if I really knew what I was doing. Maybe I was fooling myself about being able to write something an audience would enjoy. This response is TOTALLY normal. It is usually followed by the “maybe I’m going to stop for a while” phase, which then usually (at least for me) turns into the “I’ll show them” response, where I sit down and write something I know will prove them wrong.
Here’s the thing, it’s normal to be down when you get a rough critique, but you can’t let it eat you alive. Step back from it for a few days. Think about what your CP said and weed out the comments you can and can’t use. Digest the words, and then go back to your work and see if you can apply what you have learned. Your writing can only get better if you work at it and push through the rough moments.
One thing that helped me through this recent rough patch was an article posted on Tumblr. It brought to light so much of what my trusty CPs were telling me about my writing. I want to share it with you, in hopes you will see where you can make your writing better, stronger – http://fychuckpalahniuk.tumblr.com/post/9285901274/thought-verbs-by-chuck-Palahniuk
And don’t be afraid of the tough critique – it’s only through these moments can we learn as a writer to improve our craft. It’s what may keep us from being an “almost published” writer to a New York Times Bestseller!
How do you deal with tough feedback from your CP? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.