You’ve been DYING to hear back from that critique partner, editor, agent, friend. You stalk your inbox. When the document finally arrives, you break out into a sweat. What if they HATED everything? Then you think, naaah. That’s not possible. Your pages are so shiney you’ve gotta wear shades just to read them. So you open your manuscript with confidence only to find the page is bleeding, okay, GUSHING in ink. You gasp! How do you deal with the mountain of criticism?
THE SELF-DEPRECATING SNIVELER
If you’re this writer, you implode when you receive feedback. You’re paralyzed for days, weeks even, because you’re nothing but a phoney anyway–the one who barely calls themselves a shhhhh, writer. You don’t have any talent and now the critique has just proved that. You have a meltdown.
THE PROACTIVE SUPERHERO
You ponder the comments for twenty-four seconds and then pull on your revision cape and x-ray grammar mask. You attack your manuscript with force, adapting everthing. The critiquer must be absolutely dead on, right? You thank your reader and tell them they’re the smartest person on the planet. Your savior!
You’re insulted by the comments. WTF do they know about your research, your characters, your method of madness? Nothing! Not only that, but they don’t even have the experience you do. You tell that ingrate how massively intelligent you are, how stupid they are. You even consider degrading their reputation all over the internet so that others won’t be foolish enough to seek their help.
Who we should all strive to be is–
You read the feedback and calmly digest it. It flows over you, through you, and the important pieces stick to your subconscious. You digest it and take notes on how to fix the issues. Then you attack the draft with newfound wisdom and inspiration. You send thanks to your critiquer and offer something in return. GAME ON.
MORAL OF THE STORY
1. EMBRACE YOUR IDIOSYNCRACIES, but aim high! Work toward THE YODA. Ultimately it will make the writing and editing process more enjoyable.
2. GROW A THICK SKIN. It’s essential in this business. Period.
3. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Don’t assume you’re inferior and that your critiquer knows everything. It’s your book,your characters, and your style after all. On the flip side, don’t disregard advice entirely just because you think someone doesn’t “get you”. There is ALWAYS something to learn. Always. Even if you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or Phillipa Gregory. If nothing else, the feedback sheds light on how the manuscript affects readers.
4. TREAT CRITIQUERS WITH RESPECT. This is the golden rule. Someone has just spent hours of their time, paid or not, on your work. Their goal is to help the writer improve both the story and their skills–not make them feel lousy. Don’t lash out, even if the feedback you receive is harsh. Show gratitude for their effort and be professional. You never know who that writer/editor/agent knows. The last thing you want to do is damage your reputation, thus your ability to sell books, because you were a hot head one day. Publishing is a small world, after all.
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