Tag Archives: criticism

Q&A: Criticism

any advice for getting over a fear of criticism?

While this isn’t universally true, fear thrives in the absence of knowledge. Something you don’t know, or don’t understand is far more terrifying than the familiar. Trust me when I say, the idea of criticism is far more terrifying than the reality.

The simplest answer is to simply submit yourself to it, and see what filters back. But, that might not be appealing to you, yet, so let’s talk about what good criticism is, and how you can make the most of it.

Writing lives and dies on self-confidence. You’re creating and populating an artificial world with artificial characters. This is an elaborate illusion, and creating all of this from scratch will leave a few weak points. Good criticism can help you find and reinforce those points.

I could probably boil this down to simply saying, “believe in yourself and your work,” but it is important to look at criticism as an opportunity to improve your work; not an assault on your skill as a writer.

It’s probably worth reading and remembering this quote from Neil Gaiman:

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

Good criticism will show you where to start looking for weaknesses in your work. If it’s not doing that, or it’s telling you what you need to do, it’s not useful.

It’s worth remembering that  screaming, angry, people on the internet don’t affect you. There will always be people saying, “you suck,” or attacking you for having an idea. They are as irrelevant as their motivations. Just because someone says, “you can’t do something,” doesn’t mean it’s true.

There’s a certain truth to the statement that people only have the power that we give them. If you go to criticism hoping for a reassuring pat on the head, then you’re setting yourself up to be hurt.

If you think of criticism as an opportunity to abuse or stress test your work instead of validation.

In the end, remember, nothing is perfect. That doesn’t reflect on you as a writer. Criticism is about finding what doesn’t work so you can fix it, and improve the work; it’s not a test you pass with flying colors.

-Starke

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