Make Criticism Feel Good

One of the hardest parts of writing is the criticism that naturally comes along with it. Perhaps this even holds some of us back a bit. Writing makes you vulnerable. The whole point of writing is to pour your heart out onto the page (for days, months, or even years), put it out there for the world to see, and then wait for the reaction. We all hope for stellar reviews across the board and thousands of copies to be sold. But the reality is that no matter how perfect your writing is, there is always going to be someone who just doesn’t like it. It’s very hard to please everyone and that is one of the first things you need to accept if you are going to have a fulfilling and successful writing career. But, it’s not easy. Those comments hurt and often stick with us for years to come, popping into our mind most often at the worst possible time. Writing isn’t just about becoming a better writer, it’s also about becoming a better version of yourself. Writing teaches us many things and how to handle failure and negative criticism with class is just one of them.

I was so happy to see an article about criticism on Elite Daily yesterday- especially at this time year. Things are starting to wind down and we are starting to look into next year. We start setting our goals for the upcoming months, goals that most likely include more risk being taken and pushing yourself farther than you ever done before. With bigger risks often comes bigger criticism. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad. These pieces of criticism will most likely yield your greatest lessons. Here’s a few things that Merylee Sevilla has learned about enduring criticism.

  1. Critics will always exist.

There is always going to be someone out there that has something negative, no matter how big or small, to say about your work. The most important thing to remember is that they are criticizing you based on their own opinion. There are still many other people out there who absolutely love what you are doing- focus on that.

2. Grow tough skin.

Don’t let other people’s negativity get to you. Instead of feeling down or discouraged, use their criticism as energy. Energy to become a better writer and to perhaps win them over the next time around. Turn negativity into positivity.

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3. Learn how to become innovative.

There’s a lot of criticism out there about not being ‘original’ enough. It’s really hard to be original. With the ease of the internet, more stories are getting published each day than ever before. Take your focus from trying to be ‘original’ and start being ‘innovative.’ Put new spins on stories that have already been done, break the rules a little, and aim to surprise your readers. Innovation is a much more realistic and just as effective goal.

4. Just go for it.

Your biggest regret will be holding back. If you are afraid to publish a story because of the possible criticism that might come along with it, you are missing a huge opportunity. A negative comment might hurt for a few days but the pain of a missed opportunity will never go away. Be brave, be bold, and publish your work as you imagine it to be.

Write on.

Swinging and Writing

Everywhere we turn, there’s a potential lesson to be learned. Life is filled with challenges and triumphs- each waiting with a new perspective to be gained. There are good lessons. There are bad lessons. But as long as we keep changing, evolving, and (most importantly) learning- we are winning. Life isn’t about hitting every shot you take, it’s about taking the swing.

Writing is a lot like life. We learn new things everyday from our own writing. Some things are good, some are bad. Some things are technical realizations, while others are self-reflection. Whatever the case may be, as long as we keep writing, keep swinging- we are winning.

I read an article today by Lauren Jessen on The Huffington Post blog that highlighted the four lessons she learned while writing. I know we can all relate to and find inspiration in the lessons she learned. One of life’s greatest gifts is learning from each other. If you play the game alone, you won’t ever succeed.

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1.There’s no wrong way to write your book.

What perspective do you want to write from? What point of view is best for your story? Which tense should you tell your story from? These are all very important questions, to which only you have the answers to. You know your story better than any one else. There’s no magic formula that’s going to tell you how to write your book. You are the only one that knows what is best for your story. It it feels rights, it’s probably because it is.

2. Know when to stop.

This is important, especially because I stress the importance of editing in pretty much every other post on this blog. Eventually you need to be happy with your end product, flaws and all. There’s no such thing as absolutely perfect writing. There’s always going to be that one comma you missed or that one word you jumbled. You need to accept your finished product and be happy with it.

3. Stop doubting yourself.

When you are feeling down or defeated, don’t dwell on it. Instead think about why it is you are feeling that way and take steps to fix it. If you fix the problem and learn from it, was it ever really a problem?

4. Write in pieces.

Don’t get overwhelmed with thinking that you are going to need to devote large chunks of your day to writing. Write everyday, but write when you can. If you can only get a quick fifteen minute session in, that’s perfectly fine. You will be a few sentences closer to finishing than you were yesterday. You can even jump around within your writing. Maybe you had a spark of inspiration for a particular scene- write it. You don’t need to write your story in order, that’s what ‘copy & paste’ is for. Write your ideas before they disappear.

Keep on swinging. Write on.

Writing Is Learning

Life is full of experiences and experiences are full of lessons- some we search for and others just fall into our laps. Writing a book is a priceless, grueling, and rewarding experience that not many of us get the privilege to indulge in. It takes a certain type of person to become an author- self-motivated, disciplined, and critical. Not only is writing a book a great item to add to your list of accomplishments, but the experience itself also comes with a whole host of lessons we learn throughout the process. I came across an article on The Huffington Post’s blog by Maria Ross that perfectly captured some of these greatest lessons. Not only do we become better writers, when writing a book, we become better people as well. Writing affects us in more ways than one, both in our writing world and in the real one.

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  1. Have Discipline

~Writing Life: Create a schedule for your writing, don’t expect to just be able to “fit it in” when you have the time. Treat writing as a job and make time for it. Most importantly, keep that commitment to yourself. There’s very little that we actually accomplish without holding ourselves accountable.

~Real Life: When you make a commitment, honor it. Do what it takes to get it done. Turn thoughts and intentions into reality by creating goals and following through with them.

  1. Open Up To Family and Friends

~Writing Life: Let your family and friends know that your time will be limited while you are writing. Don’t just let yourself disappear without reason or fall into the pressure of committing to too many plans while writing. You don’t need to give up your life, but you also need to know when you need to skip your lunch date and write. Let your friends and family know about your writing goals so they can support you and hold you accountable as well.

~Real Life: Let the people close to you into your life. Share your goals, dreams, and aspirations. The more support you receive, the more likely you will get to where you want to go. You will probably be much happier too.

  1. Invite Feedback

~Writing Life: Find people to review your ideas and writing for honest (yes, honest) feedback. Just because something sounds amazing or makes sense to you, doesn’t mean that everyone else will feel the same way. Be smart with who you seek feedback from though. Seek help from critics, editors, writers, readers, or friends with the same interests as you (or as your target audience) or with the appropriate knowledge of the genre/audience you are trying to reach.

~Real Life: Always ask for help and seek advice from those who have been there before. Even if you think you know what you are doing, you probably don’t. No one knows everything. You never know which small piece of advice could change your life forever.

  1. Be Your Own Audience

~Writing Life: When you are writing, pretend you are your targeted reader. What would you want to see happen, what questions would you have, what thoughts would cross your mind, what would interest you? Incorporate the answers to these questions into your writing.

~Real Life: Always put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is much easier for you to be critical of yourself when you are looking at what you do through different lenses.

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  1. Prepare For Criticism

~Writing Life: News flash- not everyone is going to like/enjoy your writing. Even people you thought would love it, might not. Guess what? That’s perfectly alright and perfectly normal. Not everyone likes the same clothing, same shoes, same decorating style, or same hobbies. Diversity keeps things flowing. At the end of the day, write what you feel and you can’t go wrong.

~Real Life: Not everyone is going to be on your side, not everyone is going to agree with you. People have their own goals/beliefs and we need to respect that. We can’t expect everyone to support everything we do or believe in everything we say. Respect it, embrace it- don’t hate it.

  1. Self-Doubt Will Happen

~Writing Life: There will be many times in the writing process where you will question what you are doing, what you are writing, your credibility, and your future success. Are you wasting your time? Are you writing about the right topic/genre? Do you have the credibility to say what you are writing? These questions are good. They mean you care. Those nervous butterflies prove you are doing the right thing.

~Real Life: Always seek improvement and never get “comfortable.” The moment you stop questioning yourself, pushing and challenging yourself, is the moment your dreams remain dreams and nothing else.

  1. Trust Your Story

~Writing Life: Write with your heart, write what you feel, and believe in it. It doesn’t matter how many other times it has been done. If you feel it, if you believe it, then it’s worth writing about. Everyone has their own take on the same topic or scenario- make yours heard and don’t look back.

~Real Life: Trust your gut and believe in yourself. If you feel like something is right, like you are meant do something, if you can’t stop thinking about something then do something about it. Take others people’s advice and hopes for yourself only so far. Live for you- with no regrets.

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Like many other things in life, writing is a priceless experience. It allows you to grow, to discover, to reflect. You can learn extraordinary things when you least expect it. Life, and writing, is a beautiful thing. Write on.