How to get over yourself

Writers have an ego problem. This one is kind of a pots and kettles situation. I know I used to be like this, (still am in some ways) and I apologize to those I inflicted my Writer’s Ego upon.

How to take criticism is easy. And hard.

  1. Don’t take personal offence to your editor doing their job.
  2. If multiple readers tell you the same thing, fix the problem, don’t be part of the problem.

The human mind is wired to discard positive experiences and dwell on the negative. You need to actively fight against that. Even if all your editor has to say is negative stuff, that doesn’t mean there isn’t positive things in your writing.

We (Writers) spend a lot of time, effort, and tears in creating our stories and we want people to love them as much as we do. We have a tendency to be very self-centered, too, and believe that because we’ve spent all this time on something, obviously it’s got to be perfect. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect.

Just to make sure you got that:

NOTHING. IS. PERFECT.

There’s only “good enough for now.”

The sooner you accept that, the easier it will be to take criticism. It’s sort of a “wu wei” situation in which you do what you can to make sure your story is as good as it can be, but then you have to place it into the hands of someone else.

When you hire an editor, you’ve got to divorce yourself from the idea that this is your precious baby cinnamon roll, perfect and pure. It helps if you have some distance between the time of writing and when you submit it to an editor.

When you hire an editor, you are choosing someone to read your work who has spent time honing their skills to pick out what’s wrong with a story and make suggestions on how to fix it. You have to trust them to let you know if what you thought you conveyed is what you actually put on paper. Situations you thought were harmless are actually a big deal to someone else. Otherwise, why did you hire them? To give you a pat on the back? Your mother can do that for a lot less money and energy.

(Thanks to all the “Mothers” – biological or not – who support their artistic babies with unconditional love and support.)

If you’ve handed your story out to multiple readers, and they’re all saying the same thing, such as: “This sequence of events doesn’t make sense” and you take personal affront to that, you need to step back and breathe. The statement is exactly what they said. “This sequence of events doesn’t make sense.” So your problem is either you didn’t describe the events clearly, or the events leading up to the moment that doesn’t make sense aren’t right. So fix that instead of getting your panties in a twist thinking that your friends hate you personally and think your writing is shite.

If they weren’t interested in you, your thoughts, or writing, they wouldn’t have bothered to read the story and give you feedback in the first place. I’ve had plenty of times where I’ve asked someone to read something of mine and they just never got around to it. This is just something that happens. It isn’t that they don’t love me, or aren’t my friend, they have their reasons for not reading what I sent them and it isn’t meant to be a slight towards me. Same goes for you, Hypothetical Reader/Writer person I’m pretending to talk to.

It is one thing if someone who hasn’t read your stuff says something. It is entirely different when you have ASKED someone to read your work and they give you feedback. Trust them. You’re not a terrible writer just because the story isn’t perfect. Nothing is perfect and while you don’t have to take all their suggestions, you do need to listen to the people you have deliberately solicited an opinion from.

Bottom line is that their criticism of your story is not a reflection upon YOU. So CHILL.