Wednesday, September 29, 2010
CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM, LOVE OR HATE
Ever since writing my first accepted piece of writing some years back -- a short story for which I received $50--I have had to deal with "constructive criticism." This is often in the form of rejection letters, but can also come through editors of material that has been sold but still needs to be "polished" to their standards. Reading groups, friends, and acquaintances can critique your work as well, and may tell you things you don't want to hear.
Once upon a time, I found it tough to swallow criticism of my work, constructive or not, believing that any negative review of work was ultimately an attack on the writer and not the project, per se. Moreover, most writers are pretty stubborn when it comes to anything less than favorable of their writings, believing them by and large to be works of art that needs little if any revision.
Of course, now that I am a bit more seasoned with many books and short stories to my credit, I have a much greater understanding and appreciation of constructive criticism and actually seek out rather than run from.
Indeed, I credit the many critical reviews and constructive critiques of my works that I have received over the years as playing a big role in my development as a writer. If you only take to heart even one or two points driven home by an editor, another writer, or anyone else who can offer objective constructive criticism, it can go a long ways in improving your craft.
Sometimes I have gone back to look at constructive criticism I received for earlier works to help keep me on the straight and narrow in shaping current projects. I recognize today that in most instances, the editor or reviewer is not out to make your life miserable or be mean for the sake of it, but genuinely want to help you to become the best you can be as a writer.
Once you accept constructive criticism in this light, it can always work to your advantage, no matter how cutting it may appear at times.
Also, a writer is never too big or successful to be immune to constructive criticism. We have all read books by established, bestselling writers that could be improved upon, but may not have been given the same scrutiny by editors because of the writer's stature. This ultimately hurts such writers and the quality of their books if not told what they should be, constructively speaking.
What are your thoughts on constructive criticism or tough reviews of your writing? Do you take in the manner intended? Or find difficult to accept if it goes against the grain of your own lofty opinion of the work?