Every author has that moment.
A scene has been burning up in their mind for the past few weeks. After carefully planning it out, they sit down and get it typed out. It’s not like other writing sessions where they force themselves to focus, this time things are going wonderfully. The muse is there and he is on fire.
In no time, the author is sitting back in their chair, proud as can be. The scene/chapter they just finished wasn’t just good, it was spectacular. The diamond in the rough. A crowning jewel of a chapter.
Of course the author doesn’t want to deprive the world of the joy of reading their work, so they show it to someone else. As the person reads, the author’s chest just puffs up as they imagine the words of praise soon to be coming.
But then after the person finishes, boy do they have a lot to say.
And it’s not always easy on the ears.
Criticism. It’s hard to take. But why is it so personal and hard to hear?
Well, to start off with, author’s spend a lot of time writing and rewriting. Heck I’ll say it takes me over a half hour to write each of my blog posts. But those are about 400-600 words each. Now double imagine the time which goes into writing an 80,000 word novel.
Also now to mention, a lot of us have day jobs. I know I certainly do. I wish I could stay home everyday and type up the ideas burning away in my brain. Alas, this does not put food in the fridge or pay the bills, so I’m forced to get up every morning before the sun and head off to work. So all the time I spend on a novel is after I’ve already put in between forty to sixty hours a week in the office. (When I was writing the first draft of my first and second novels, I was working roughly eighty hours a week)
So we want to hear all our hard work is paying off, we want to know we’re not just wasting our time typing up garbage.
Doesn’t the person know how long it took and how much sleep I sacrificed to get this piece written?
But it also depends on the type of criticism being given.
If someone reads your work and says this sucks and leaves, it isn’t very helpful. Sure, it could suck…or it could be they were in a bad mood, or they just didn’t care about your writing. Heck they could even hold a grudge against you, who knows.
Now if someone says well, this scene isn’t very good, let me tell you how to make it better.
Ding ding ding, you’ve hit the jackpot.
It’s hard to here sometimes, no one wants to hear how their work isn’t very good. But hearing how to make it better, always works out best.
Then there’s the plain and simple I liked the piece, good job. Sure it appeals to the ego of the writer, but it really doesn’t help very much. Unless you’re reading something has been polished and shined and gone over so many time, a plain old good job is nice, but doesn’t go very far.
Of course if you combine the last two, these two go hand in hand. Starting out with a nice comment to make the author feel validated is good, then diving into what needs work and finally editing on a nice note.
Constructive criticism. It hurts sometimes, it really does. It’s hard to get back a stack of papers and see some editor scribbled all over them in red pen. But this is how we grow.
Many many many years ago, someone pointed out to me I started all my sentences the same way. At first I was shocked and then I got angry. How dare he! But after I calmed down, I saw the guy was right. From then on, I started to keep a close eye out on my beginnings. It’s been almost seven years, but I still hasn’t forgotten his comment.
So fellow authors, even though it hurts, remember they’re trying to help you. It’s a lot better to get kind words of advice from someone who cares then nasty ones from someone who doesn’t. Just take a look on amazon reviews. People will rip your work to shreds without thinking twice.
If needed, take a step back and wait for the sting to go away and your ego to take a hike. Your work will be better off in the long run.
What’s the worst/best criticism you’ve ever gotten?