Being critiqued is a difficult and sometimes dangerous process to participate in. Don’t get me wrong. I believe it is importance. I find, if left to my own thoughts, I will deem my work as either brilliant or worthless. There can be nothing wrong with a scene, but I can tear it down. Likewise, there can be a lot wrong with a scene but I see it as the best piece ever written. I think the trouble with self-analyzing is that I know what was supposed to be on the page. I know every detail of the scene, every emotion, and where it’s leading. The question always remains…did I succeed? I don’t think this is something I can answer.
For the most part, I send my work through readers. These are people I trust not to tear me down to make themselves feel better. They don’t interject how they would have done it differently. They simply tell me if I accomplished my goal. I think it helps that these readers are not writers. But, as I said before, I believe every now and then it is good for a writer to hear true criticism. Not something from someone paid to criticize. Their critics are more about their careers. No, I am talking about criticism from writers in the same boat or people aware of the technics of writing.
This process is hard, though. I believe I’ve gotten better. I always will say my mother took me through the “what do you mean it’s not perfect” stage. The poor woman had to deal with a writer’s first encounter with criticism mixed with the hormones of a teenager. She is a saint. Yet, even though I’ve gone through a bachelor’s degree and a few writing courses, criticism is still tough. For me, the hardest part is hearing more than just the negative. What did I do wrong? What proof do they have that I really should give up writing? It is always crushing to have someone say the scene just didn’t work and then list out reasons why. I always have to sit on their words for a few hours, force myself to examine them, and then begin to recognize what should change. After thinking about it, I often find what I agree and disagree with. I think that’s important; realizing that I have the right to disagree and it doesn’t make me snobbish. People like different things. What speaks to one doesn’t speak to another. That’s fine. But the important part is to honestly weigh their thoughts before casting them aside.
I don’t believe criticism will ever be easy. Yet, I’d rather have someone honestly give me their thoughts rather than always saying “it’s great.” If that’s all I hear, I will seek out those willing to tell me what they think. That’s the only way a writer can truly grow. But too much criticism can be detrimental to a writer’s confidence. It’s a fine balance, but worth the effort.