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Everyone’s a critic – and you need them

 

No one likes the idea of being criticised. In fact, the very idea of opening yourself up to criticism – even welcoming it – is a terrifying one in any aspect of life, but it’s especially difficult if you’re a writer.


For a writer, the words they put onto the page are not mere functions of text. Every word is thought about, considered, carefully managed. There is something about writing that connects with the metaphysical part of you; the embodiment of who you are. It’s far more powerful than words that can be lost on the wind; if you commit to writing something down, then it lives on forever.

So why would anyone open themselves up to criticism of their writing? It’s inevitably going to feel more personal, like an attack rather than a genuine appraisal. Even the biggest authors in the world avoid criticism, preferring to surround themselves with sycophantic fans.There’s an element of ego at play but mostly, it’s fear: no one likes to hear bad things.

Why Is This A Problem?

Not all criticism is the same. Some will be relentless, rude for the sake of being rude to any content they encounter, vented out by another person with the direct desire to make the writer feel bad. This type of criticism is fine to ignore. It says more about the person giving the criticism than it does about the work they are criticising.

However, constructive criticism is one of the most essential tools for any writer. When we are so close to a work – find it so personal – we can struggle to see the word for the trees. Sometimes, you need someone who isn’t so close to it to tell you what you are doing wrong – and what you are doing right. This perspective is essential for learning and growing as a writer.

How Do You Look For Constructive Criticism?

There are various ways you can look for constructive criticism. For freelancers, when you have submitted a piece, you can ask a client if there is anything that they would have preferred. Explain that it’s an option for them to respond, but you would appreciate if they did so you can satisfy their needs better in future. Some may not reply, but those that do could provide an insight into bettering your work in future.

For novel writers, services like Wattpad can bring constructive criticism from an engaged, book-aware audience who are legitimately invested in improving writing. If you have a few half-written novels on your hard drive (doesn’t every writer?!), then select a few of your best chapters. All you then need to do is learn how to make a Wattpad cover – don’t be afraid, technophobes, it’s easier than you’d think – and throw yourself into the community wholeheartedly.

If the above sound too ‘out there’ for you, then it’s worth contacting writers you respect and asking if they would take a look at your work. This keeps it private and without the attachment of impacting a client relationship you rely on for work. There’s no guarantee of acceptance, but if they do, it could be a valuable experience your writing needs.

Have you experienced criticism first hand? How did you deal with it? Let us know.

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