Accepting Critique, Criticism and Editing on Your Writing

Earlier, I was looking at some of my old fiction writing, back when I first started writing fiction professionally. I used to put small pieces up on blogs, and people loved my writing. My friends and family said I was fantastic.

They lied.

What’s so sad is, I thought, truly though, I was fantastic. When another writer would critique me, I would look down my nose at them and their critique, saying they just didn’t ‘get’ me, they didn’t ‘understand’ my writing, and I was ‘unique’ and ‘different’.

I re-read some of the early stuff I wrote and realized I was unique and different, painfully so.

Yet, my ego was fully in check, protecting me.

Well, so I thought. I read this stuff now, especially now that I’m an editor for a profession, along with being a writer, and I wonder how I EVER thought my writing was good.

It sucked.

The first thing I noticed was my liberal use of ‘dots’. I can’t quite call them ellipses, because I would use about 10 of them. But, oh, no! I used them for dramatic pause! Or what about when I would use all capital letters, because I wanted to emphasize a point?

(shaking head) Rookie mistakes.

Funny thing is, when I see those things in a manuscript now, they really stand out to me, since those were the mistakes I made. That’s probably not entirely fair to new writers when their writing comes across my desk, eh?

I do not take critique well.

Oh, wait. Emphasis.

I DO NOT TAKE CRITIQUE WELL!

Got that?

I don’t.

I pout. I sometimes cry. I get sorta angry and I sometimes call editors names, like, oh, I dunno, stupid, quack, illiterate boob.

Oh, wait, no, I don’t do that (if my editors are reading this, know I meant the other editors I have, not you!)

Then eventually, I wrestle my ego to the ground, punch it in the face a few times and tell it to sit still and shut up.

Then I’ll rewrite and edit.

The funny thing is, even all beaten and bruised, I actually do still listen to my ego enough that I refuse to edit things the way someone else suggests. I will often rewrite completely if ‘my’ way is not good enough.

Usually, though I’d be hard-pressed to admit this in the moment, my writing turns out better, stronger, MORE me.

Over the years, I’ve continued to learn and grow with my writing, but I’m still not any better at taking criticism.

I figure a few years from now, I’ll look back on my writing today and wonder why I ever thought it was any good.

I suppose the point of this post is: if you want to grow as a writer, you HAVE to learn to accept and utilize critiques and feedback from other writers whose writing you respect, readers who are the ones who will read your writing, and editors who are the ones who ultimately buy and/or approve your writing.

Ego… ego really takes a beating, but writing thrives because of it.

Love and stuff,
Michy
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