This week — Monday through Friday — I’m talking about criticism.
Today: The Benefits of Criticism.
Tuesday: 5 Ways to Handle Criticism
Wednesday: 5 Ways to Give Good Critiques
Thursday: Criticism — It’s Not an Editor’s Job
Friday: The Best Critique I Ever Received
The Benefits of Criticism
Learning to deal with criticism is one of the most important skills for writers to learn. While criticism can sometimes sting—and while there are people who take pleasure in giving brutal criticism—most people want to help others.
I’ll discuss how to handle criticism tomorrow; today I want to talk about the benefits of criticism.
Become a Better Listener. Listening is a vital skill to anybody wanting to become a writer. Whether it’s listening to somebody during an interview for an article, or listening to an agent or editor — if you can’t listen, you shouldn’t become a writer.
Criticism teaches us how to listen. I’ve seen writers become combative at the first hint of criticism. Those writers rarely get good.
The writer who listens is a writer who will learn and continue getting better.
Overcome Roadblocks. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we know we’ve written something that can be better. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to figure out how to fix that writing.
Good, honest feedback can help. Sometimes all it takes is somebody offering a little advice to open things up and make a weak section of a story or article strong. If you are averse to criticism, sometimes the things tripping you up take you down and don’t let go.
New Ideas. Good criticism isn’t all about just sitting there and taking it. Once you’ve listened, good criticism is about conversation. Many times, the chats during my writing group help me come up with ideas to make a story stronger, or ideas for new stories.
Writing is a solitary act, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. People who can provide great feedback and help you with ideas are all around you. Listen, learn, and speak up!
Learning Who You Can Trust. As you write and receive feedback, you will find out there are people who take time to read your work and offer great feedback, and people who skim and tear stuff apart just for the sake of tearing stuff apart.
As you listen to feedback of your writing, make a note of the people who help you become a stronger writer and those who are negative and don’t help. Surround yourself with the people who aren’t afraid to push you, but still support you — they are the people who will keep you focused and growing as a writer.
Tomorrow: 5 Ways to Handle Criticism