Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Back on the Blog Chain: Growing a Thick Skin

For this round of the blog chain, Alyson wants to know how well we handle criticism:

Have you developed thick skin as a writer? How do you handle having your work critiqued? Do you love revising? Hate it?

I'm a lot better at handling criticism now than I was when I first started writing. Considering all the workshops I've attended, I've had lots of practice receiving it. That doesn't mean it's easy to handle criticism, but if it's delivered constructively, that helps. If I need to, I set the comments aside for a while and come back to them when I can look at them more objectively. I've also learned how subjective criticism can be; one person may love what another loathes. So I try to get feedback from several people and look at the comments in aggregate before I revise. I may not agree with every suggestion my crit partners and editor offer as far as changing the story, because sometimes doing so would take the story in a direction that doesn't feel right to me. However, these suggestions are still helpful because they force me to look at the underlying problems that inspired the suggestions and come up with another way to address them.

As for revising, yes, at times it can be frustrating, especially when you feel you're close to done with the story and realize you're nowhere near that point. However, as long as I feel the change is an improvement, taking the story closer to where it needs to go, then it's worth the pain of revision. I've lost track of how long I've worked on Twinned Universes and how many drafts it went through, but I feel the final product is all the better for it.

For more about thick skin and revising, visit Kate's post from yesterday, and tune in tomorrow to see what Christine has to say on this topic.

7 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's how I handle criticism. And you do have to weigh each item. If the criticism is repeated, then it's something I need to address. If it's just one person, I usually don't make changes unless I feel it's necessary. When I received the critiques for my last manuscript, one paragraph in particular had three different responses - one person said nothing, another said it was very weak, and the third said it was outstanding. Needless to say, I didn't change it.

Sandra Almazan said...

That's a good example of how subjective critique can be, Alex. Some people even go so far as to say that it's a good sign when you have people strongly reacting to your story, even if you get opposite reactions.

Maria Zannini said...

I read crits twice. Once (briefly) when I first receive it, and then more thoroughly a couple of weeks later after I've had time to absorb and think about what was said.

It helps if you have good critiquers to begin with. Some people just aren't good at it, even if they're excellent writers. It takes a certain skill to dissect and analyze--and then be able to articulate your findings.

Sandra Almazan said...

Good points, Maria!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey Sandra! I sent you an email a few days ago about the date for your guest post. Did it go missing?

Sandra Almazan said...

Sorry, Alex. I did get your e-mail. I haven't replied to it yet because I intend to send the guest post with it. Today for sure....

Demitria said...

I agree: constructive criticism is key! Also good point about reflecting on advice, even if you don't feel you should take it.

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