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  • Writer's picturejessica bruyere

Accepting Criticism (If I Can Do It, So Can You!)

All writers need to revise their writing at some point. Going it alone is possible but can be difficult. Writers frequently seek out critique of their work in different ways. It can be difficult to accept critique and writers need to develop a thick skin. Read on to learn how to accept criticism when revising your writing.

Where does criticism come from?

A writer may simply rely on their own self-critique. It can be hard to manage your own self-judgment and assess the quality of your work from an objective point of view. On the other hand, you know your work best. Some writers ask friends to read their work. Others ask for help from beta readers. A beta reader is defined by as “a person who reads a work of fiction before it is published in order to mark errors and suggest improvements, typically without receiving payment.” These could be friends but more typically are other writers. In my experience, beta reading is exchanged between two writers. Another option is to hire a developmental editor, which is what I did with my current work in progress (WIP). This is a person who has been trained and educated to objectively look at your work and assess its weak points and identify areas of growth. It can be hard to accept this kind of criticism but it’s part of the writing process, whether you do it yourself, have a friend read your work, use a beta reader, or hire a developmental editor.

How to handle criticism like a pro

Once you have your feedback, you can begin the process of revising your work. Thank the person who gave it to you and sit down in a quiet spot to absorb what you’ve gathered. First, simply read over what you’ve been given. When I first got my developmental edit (DE) letter from my editor, I was completely overwhelmed. I wondered if I’d ever get through it. I had imposter’s syndrome, thinking maybe I wasn’t a real writer after all because the letter had so much information. I had to let the letter sit in my folder for a day or two before I even read past the first paragraph. And that’s okay. I read through the letter, trying not to judge what I was reading or my own writing. The next step is to read through the critique again, this time taking notes. It’s important to remember that your work is your own and you can choose what to change and what to keep. When I read the DE letter the second time and took notes, I kept many of the ideas for changes my editor suggested and discarded a few. I also was inspired to come up with some new ideas for my novel, which was exciting and kept the feelings of being overwhelmed at bay. Next, look over your notes and ask any questions you may have. Then set it aside for a few days. When you come back to it, you may find that some of what you disagreed with initially makes sense now.

Getting feedback can be incredibly helpful to any writing, whether it’s an email or a full-length novel. You now have some tools to help accept or even welcome criticism of your work. First, read over the notes you’ve been given. Then give it a day or two. Next, read it again and take notes without judging. Ask questions, then let it sit for a few days. From there, you can begin the revision process using the feedback you’ve been given. Happy revising!

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