Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Power of Ourselves

Most writers are afraid of themselves. They seek validation from others: fellow writers, Facebook friends, Tweeters, editors, agents, and publishers. I admit, I open my email each day hoping to glean positive comments from readers . . . to make me feel good about myself and the lot I've chosen in life.

That's why rejection drops us to our knees . . . we rely on others to tell us we're right/good/funny/fill-in-the-blank.

The blog Write to Done has some remarkable posts. Recently they did one on criticism. Five Steps Towards Making Peace with Criticism. In general, we should accept the fact we aren't perfect, or even good, especially when we are starting. Ever notice kids? They're eager to learn? They make mistakes, anxious for you to tell them what they did wrong so they can get it right! They are open to failure because they know it's on the path to success.

Be strong. Pick and choose what you learn. That's a huge mistake of writers in critique groups. They accept everything as gospel or get too defensive that they were critiqued to start with. Welcome feedback, then be selective. It's the criticism that's important.

Feedback from anybody, learned or ignorant, seasoned or novice, editor or reader, is to be filtered and not taken personally. You can be a green-as-a-gourd writer who can't match nouns and verbs and yet still be a confident individual. The power of ourselves should not be affected by the level of our writing.

If your writing isn't working, and others tell you it stinks, remember . . . it isn't about who you are. It's about what you're delivering . . . and that is totally in your hands to fix.


Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

Hey, Hope,

I like the point about being selective with critiques. I've learned over the years to hone in on a few things people say but to avoid making my manuscript "all things to all people."

Sometimes someone in your group just doesn't like your story or character. It's a matter of taste. They may question everything your character does. And it's good to have this constant critique because you prep yourself for tougher reviews down the road.

I find when I take too much time having to explain to my group my my character or plot that not only do I sound defensive but the writing isn't speaking for itself.

I also hate to do this, but I find if I just let comments sit for a few days, I see the wisdom of them--especially the comments that make me mad. Something's buried in them that could be helpful. (I distinguish frustrating comments with mean comments; it's rare I've ever gotten mean ones, but the difference is big.)


Anonymous said...

When we are comfortable with ourselves,criticism has less power. Unfortunately, especially with writing, we depend on the feedback to know we're going the right way instead of depending on ourselves.

Hope Clark said...

I think it's all about the confidence - confidence to accept criticism and use it wisely. Not confidence to be arrogant and decide all edits for ourselves. Knowing that we can be flawed and still be our wonderful selves.

Mark Milan said...

"If your writing isn't working, and others tell you it stinks, remember . . . it isn't about who you are. It's about what you're delivering . . . and that is totally in your hands to fix." -- Preach the good word sister!

Thanks for linking to my guest post!

Hope Clark said...

Hey, Mark, Thanks! Good post.