Think about a time where you received criticism you did not agree with on your work. Open a new page, copy and paste the original piece, and use the criticism to see where it takes you.
This one is a good one. When I was a baby writer, I thought my work was perfect on the first try and I was eager to share it. Since I knew what my pieces were trying to convey, I couldn’t imagine that someone else would be confused by what I was saying. I also refused to proofread, or I proofread super fast, again believing that my work was perfect as is. Obviously we all know this is not the case. All writers should be revising and proofreading their work, but furthermore, if we intend to seek publication, we must ask for criticism, and sometimes, yes, we must act on it. The very first time I received real criticism on work I did voluntarily, outside of school, I was about 18 years old and it was from a teacher who I respect and admire to this day. She took her free time to read my piece, and gave constructive feedback, and when I received it I was SO ANNOYED. How could she not see my brilliance? I think I cried. I put the piece away. It wasn’t good enough. I had worked so hard. Now I would never be a writer. Time went on and I still loved to write, but I shifted my focus to academia, where I was getting positive feedback only. Then, I didn’t have to think about working hard. I decided to be a professor, to teach other academics.
Now don’t get me wrong. Academia taught me a LOT about writing. Studying literature taught me the ins and outs of a book, how one little component on page five led to a big revelation on page two hundred. I loved every minute of it. But when I graduated with my Masters, I took a big look at myself and my life and decided to leave Academia, afterall (for now…) and pursue the dream that was there all along. The dream to write, whatever it takes!
I made a vow to myself that I would seek out criticism, that I would work harder at my writing and take it as seriously as I took my own life. And I also decided that even if I am never published, that I will still write. Because writing is ingrained in my soul. So with that, I started to work on my first novel, the novel that had been dancing around in my head for years, waiting to be written, and to start taking workshops and classes and putting myself out there and listening to criticism with open ears. I still don’t think every piece of criticism is worth chasing after, but I do believe that others can see what you can’t in your work, because you are too close to it. And that’s very valuable.
Today, I want you to think about a time where you received criticism on your work, and you weren’t exactly gracious about it. You might have cursed the person in your head, calling them an idiot, wondering if they even KNOW HOW TO READ! Open up a fresh document, copy and paste the piece in question, and just try their criticism out. You never know where it might take you. A year ago, I took my old piece back out and was not shocked to see that the criticism was completely valid. I am grateful to that person who took the time out of their busy life and offered criticism on my piece.