Friday, October 11, 2013

The thick skin you need as a writer

So I am getting responses back from some of my beta readers. Most are saying that they love the story (Blur) and then like the inevitable breakup conversation that starts with "we need to talk" they begin.

"Loved the story, but why is this happening or why is this character doing that?

"It was great but this doesn't make sense."

You get the gist I'm sure. Now just to be clear I enjoy this, actually I asked for it. Its part of the writing process and as amazing as I may think I am ( in my own mind) I know better. Its important to put your story and yourself out in front of others to get feedback and criticism, because it helps you make the story better. That is the point isn't it? A pairing down of things unnecessary and superfluous. In order for all of this to work however, you need thick skin.

You need to be able to take criticism, constructive and destructive and move on. You cant take it personally even though you want to, and I know you really want to, but don't. Remember, focus on the story, its all about the story. You as the writer can fade into the background, but the story should shine in the foreground. You need to be able to look past the battering of your story, characters and even writing ability to continue writing. In my opinion, if you cant do this you have no business writing, really.

This doesn't mean you should only subject to criticism that destroys your work. You should pick your early readers with care, people that will read your work and be honest  and supportive of you being a writer. If you only want glowing reviews (and who doesn't) then only use your family. That way you can get a skewed review in your favor (its delusional, but fun). If you want honesty, pick people who like you, but are not afraid of telling you the truth with compassion. That last part is important. Writers tend to be sensitive individuals who bruise easily. This is all done with the understanding that you must release your story into the world, and not everyone will be kind or a fan. Remember to be your own greatest fan.

If you are a writer then cultivate the thick skin needed to hone your craft and undergo the scrutiny required to improve from being a good writer to a great one. If you ever find yourself fortunate enough to be an early reader of someones work remember that the point is to make the story better without destroying the writer in the process. Think surgical strike instead of  a slash and burn policy. Focus on the writing not the writer and you will be sought often to improve those nascent novels.

writers write



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