Writers tips and tricks “handling criticism”

Hey hi my lovelies! My name is Tanya Hooper and welcome to TanyaTale. This blog is my space on the internet to share with you anything and everything creative which pops into my brain. Be it a conspiracy theory or an embarrassing tale times, if your into chatty posts, this is definitely the place for you. If you are new to this blog welcome, be sure to click the subscribe button to be alerted every time I post and if you are returning – welcome back.

So today we are heading into the world of the writer. As a creative writing student, having people critique my work is a part of my weekly routine. Honestly, at the beginning I really struggled with this – it felt like a personal attack on something I had worked really hard on. However, after some time I came to the realisation that the criticism I was receiving from my peers and lecturers wasn’t criticism at all … it was advice.

It took me quiet a while to realise this however as soon as I did this criticism turned into a tool to help my writing to improve. I wasn’t intending to share this post today (honestly I wasn’t even intending to write it) but yesterday, I over heard a conversation between a journalist and his son which prompted me to write this. The journalist was helping his son with some creative writing. He was giving him some pretty good advice on how to redraft the start of his story and as he went his son was clearly getting upset. Eventually the journalist asked what was wrong and his son told him that he felt like whenever he wrote something he was proud of, the people he shared it with ripped it to shreds.

Had I not been some stranger in a coffee shop listening into a conversation which really didn’t involve me, I probably would have said to him what I am about to say to you. Which is why I’m writing this post. To satisfy my busy body need to interrupt other people’s conversations …

The first time a story I had written was supposed to be properly critiqued was in a creative writing workshop. There was a published author, lecturer and about 20 other creative writers. I was so nervous about being attacked that I chickened out last minute and stayed home instead. The second time I was a little more brave and I did show up. Honestly, I’m glad I did. Because, although I pretended to have lost my voice so I didn’t have to have everyone watch me as I read it aloud, the feedback I received helped me to understand that criticism isn’t always negative, sometimes it’s just advice or opinion.

For example, after my short story had been read aloud one girl said that the word “bitch” had been over used and that she would have found a different word to use in place of it. Now the word “bitch” had been used twice … once in the title and once in the story. You can find this story here on my blog. Now upon investigating her criticism (or to use a word I prefer … feedback) I discovered that she considered the word offensive and didn’t appreciate its use. An opinion. That’s all criticism is … sometimes it can be useful. It can open your eyes up to mistakes you have made, or things that people think could be improved – which is vital when writing something for public consumption – but other times what you have written might not be that persons cup of tea.

Think of it this way, if you were writing a book aimed at a pre-teen girl demographic you can’t be offended if an eighty year old man calls it immature or says it could be aged a little.

Handling criticism can be difficult. I understand that. Especially when you don’t agree with it – which will happen on occasion. But when you consider that criticism is just opinion or suggestions for improvement it becomes a lot easier to handle.

So thank you, for letting me post this and satisfy my busy body need to interrupt some strangers. If you have enjoyed this or found it at all useful then please be sure to click the like button and if you want to join this conversation feel free to leave a comment below. If this has inspired you to open up your own discussion into this topic be sure to link this post so I can have a read of your opinions on the matter too. Until next Friday I hope you have a fantastic week.

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