Many writers, especially young ones, often suffer from what I call a my-book-is-my-child complex. They think that their story, their writing style, their plot, and their characters are completely perfect in every way. As a result, writers who have this complex struggle with accepting criticism, and they often ignore the advice offered because they feel that the critic simply doesn’t understand the true magnificence of the story they’ve created.
However, the writer is usually wrong.
Throughout my years of growing as a writer, I learned that accepting and utilizing criticism is crucial to improving not only my stories, but also the way I write. If you suffer from the my-book-is-my-child complex, then here is some advice on how to accept and use criticism:
- It’s not you, it’s your story: The people who provide criticism are not insulting you when they offer criticism about your writing. They don’t hate you, and they aren’t out to get you. It is your story they see flaws with, not you.
- The reader is always right: A book is considered good or popular by general consensus, so if a lot of readers find fault with your story, then you may need to make some changes to it. Remember, you are too close to your book to notice the faults others may see, so listen to them.
- Critique the criticism: Just because someone tells you to jump off a cliff doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. The same goes with criticism. Not all criticism is good criticism, and if you think that following the advice will be bad for your story, then don’t take it. However, if several different people offer the same advice, then there may be something you should change.
- The ends justify the means: Your first draft will be lousy. It’s a fact. After rewriting and editing your draft, it will be half-decent. But after having alpha and beta readers examine your writing and make suggestions for improvement, your draft will be great. Criticism is essential in the creation of good writing, so embrace it, don’t fear it.