Friday, May 8, 2015

What To Do When Critics Expect More Than You Can Give

     I imagine at some point in everyone's writing career, a critic demands more than you know how to give.
    You create a story...slave over it in your secret writing, hate, and adore it...pour your own sweat, blood, and tears into it.  You laugh over your funny scenes, cry over the sad ones, and fall in love with your own hero.
     Then comes the day when you share it with a critique partner.
     And they hate it.
     They have a million things to say about its faults.  It's too much of this and too little of that.  It's boring/frustrating/disappointing/confusing.  Your hero is annoying.  The story moves too fast or too slow.  The writing is choppy and stilted.
     And the worst thing is... know they are right.

     But the problem is not just how much it hurts, but also that you have no idea how to fix it.  The advice of your friends sounds like Greek to you.  None of it makes sense.  And you really don't want to make sense of it.  It all sounds too painful.  What?  They want you to get rid of Fluffy?  They say his character is not essential to the plot?  But you liked Fluffy!!!!!!

     What do you do?

     What did I do?  I remember being in this very spot.  And do you know what I did?  I listened carefully to the constructive criticism, accepted and used whatever I was willing to, and then KEPT WRITING.
     Every bit of that constructive criticism started to grow inside of me like a seed.  As I continued to learn about writing, those criticisms sprouted, and my writing improved.
     Oh, the original story didn't.  My beloved Fluffy still sits in some dark, secluded file, never to see the light of day.  It was a practice place for me...a training ground.  But, even though I couldn't bring myself to make the necessary changes then, the fact that I "kept writing" brought me out of that place and into a place where the criticism truly helped.

      How about you?  Have you ever received constructive criticism that you weren't ready for?  How did you learn from it?

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