Sunday, December 20, 2015


Would you rather remove the Band-Aid slowly—or just rip it off? Would you rather slowly discover which aspects of your novel warrant revision—or get it over with? No right answer exists. It’s your choice, but it is a choice, and remembering that might help.

Tip: Why not be completely honest with yourself so you can be honest with your critiquers.

Most writers agree with Kenneth Blanchard: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Writers usually insist that if they respect the critique, they’ll take the entire candid yet considerate assessment, and all at once. But rationality and ego don’t always match.

Like everyone else, writers often experience disparity between what they think they ought to want and what they actually do. In our secret writer hearts, we want to hear, “This is glorious! I wouldn’t change a single word.” But how often is there no room for improvement? Are you willing to keep some realities in mind?

~ Trust.

Heed criticism only from those who are not only insightful, but unquestionably in your corner. A constructive critique, “like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s [sic] growth without destroying his roots.” -- Frank A. Clark

~ Flexibility.

The suggestion turns you off: it’s not what you meant, doesn’t emphasize what matters, misses the point. That isn’t carte blanche to simply dismiss it. Critique provides opportunity to revise so you can accomplish what you intended. Start with being super- choosey about who critiques you. Those opinions matter. Dismiss them at your peril.

~ Defensiveness.

It’s natural. But it does need a time limit and, again, heaps of honesty. Part of you values The Work more than anything. The trick is letting that part triumph.

~ Pride.

If you know how hard you worked—with all the objectivity you could muster—then you know why you included that word, that detail, that climax. Then you can proudly say, “I need that.” Yet you also need greater objectivity than you can realistically generate. Which do you prefer: your defense or this reader’s “truth”?

Feedback is part of the package: “There is no defense against criticism except obscurity” -  Joseph Addison.

Chin up. As Konrad Adenauer observes, “A thick skin is a gift from God.” That’s because the better you listen, then the better you make your writing. Rumi was right that “Criticism polishes my mirror.” Isn’t that what you seek, even it involves “ouch”?

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