Recently I received criticism about myself. I didn’t like it. Like all humans, I prefer praise. However, the points made were from someone (not connected to the publishing industry) I know has my best interests at heart, so I stepped back, tried to review the criticism without emotion, and I hope I learned from it. I can say I learned enough to take steps to improve.
Our writing lives are affected by our moods and situations, so whether the criticism is leveled at ourselves or our work, we need to assess accordingly. Not all criticism is valid, but we can learn from an occasional reassessment. When you are criticized, consider:
1) Source: Is the person someone who knows you well enough to make the criticism something you should listen to?
2) Knowledge: Does the person have enough knowledge of the publishing industry/your genre/your work that her opinion holds weight?
3) Content: Sometimes criticism isn’t given with tact, even (or maybe especially by) people we love most. To gain knowledge, look beyond the delivery to the meat of the words to see what’s worth keeping and what needs to go.
4) Relationship: It’s easier to heed the words of a friend than an enemy. But an enemy can be valuable because he doesn’t see us through the lens of friendship. Are your enemy’s painful words true? God uses all types of people to communicate to us. Prayer can be a guide here.
Whether the criticism is about yourself or your work, let the person know you considered his viewpoint. Do you what you can to maintain peace. Learning isn’t always fun, but it is always beneficial.
What was the most difficult criticism you have received? How did you respond?
What was the most helpful criticism you have ever received?