Receiving criticism is hard for anyone, but particularly for creatives, as we are all so sensitive. Yet it is very necessary in our writing journey. (See video below for more on why that is.)
So how do you soften the blow? You develop a thick skin, but that is an acquired skill. So practice, practice, practice.
And you learn to look at things with a more critical eye. I was reminded of that when I recently received two critiques back on the very same story. Guess what? These writers told me that they liked and didn’t like certain aspects of my story. And guess what? One loved a certain part of my story that another did not like at all. Yes, I received opposing feedback on the exact same part of my story! And it happened more than once! So always keep that in mind. You are never going to please everyone, so strive to please yourself.
And maybe, just maybe, we should change the word critique to feedback. How about it? Feedback group anyone?
Below is a lighthearted look of how I have changed over time.
Evolution of Receiving a Critique
Pre Stage One
Writer never lets anyone ever set eyes on any story. EVER.
Writer gets braver. Thinks might want to do this for a living.
Writer writes one draft and thinks it’s the best thing ever. Sends it out for review.
Receives critique back. Is shocked at any suggestions that story should be changed. Cries, curses, howls. Vows never to write again.
(Two weeks later, after licking wounds, and being unable to stay away from muse, writer writes again.)
Writer a little wiser. Realizes that like any skill, writing has to be practiced and so has done so. Also now has a critique group.
Writer confused by all criticism.
Tries to change everything to please all critiquers.
Writer even more wiser. Has practiced more. Has read about the craft of writing. Has even taken a course or two.
Writer receives many comments. Realizes that they are all opinions. Carefully considers them. Chooses which ones resonate.
Voice getting stronger and stronger…
Which stage are you at?
Some wise words about how getting better at receiving feedback is actually a skill: