March Word Count: 4200 (800 short of daily goal)
I’ve been meaning to post something about this since November. I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last couple of weeks, and some recent conversations have brought it to the forefront of my mind.
I need to get better at taking criticism. This mostly applies to writing, but it feeds into other parts of my life, too.
My greatest problem is how much I associate my self-worth with my work. I pour myself into it. This means that I’m passionate about it, and I really give it my all. It also means that when I put my work in front of someone else, I’m exposed and vulnerable.
At ConVolution, I was exceptionally nervous. I felt a little bit of nausea before the workshop met up, and I was a gibbering mess on the inside, when it got to my turn. As each person spoke, I listened as best I could, while at the same time I was thinking, “Don’t be that guy… don’t be that guy…” When it was time for me to ask questions for clarification, I couldn’t really say much. I said that I agreed with everything that was said, and I thanked everyone for the feedback. I might have asked a question, but I don’t remember. I was still trying to keep myself together.
That was probably the best I’ve done, and it was harrowing. Since then, I’ve relaxed a little bit, but that hasn’t necessarily been good.
The time before last when the Auspicious NorCal Writer’s group met up, we reviewed a couple of chapters of my Mel Walker story, and I did not handle it well. I had a very bad reaction to it, and I wound up creating some drama in the group.
The last time we met, my work received a very mild review. That would be okay, except that my story was terrible. It had pacing problems. It had plot problems. It was gimmicky.
I need to know when my stories don’t work, but at the same time, I need to not take the criticism so hard that my ego and self-confidence take a tumble.
Part of what’s keeping me going is a belief that I am a good writer. It’s tenuous, though, because I don’t have any real successes that I can hang my hat on.
The only way I’m going to get better at receiving critiques is through additional trial and error. It’s like writing itself. If you want to improve, you have to do it, and not just talk about it. Hopefully I haven’t broken things beyond repair with the Auspicious group.
To make the most the critiques, I think I need to provide some guidance. When I was first asked what sort of critiques I wanted, I said, “Whatever is in your heart.” That was my answer, because I didn’t know what I wanted. I have a slightly better set of guidelines, now.
- If something doesn’t work, I want to know that it doesn’t work.
- If something is good, I really want to know that it is good. But I don’t want this fudged. It needs to be genuine, if I’m going to be able to use this to improve.
- I am not receptive to someone telling me how they would write my story. This is not meant to be bitchy. I bring this up to address my own idiosyncrasies. When someone else tells me how they would write my story, I hear, “You’re not good enough to write this on your own, let me help you.” This is my kryptonite.
- If we’re looking at a first draft, bear in mind that it is a first draft. Applying analysis at a high depth might be useful, but it also might be a waste of time for everyone involved.
I think these guidelines will probably help safeguard me against myself. There are probably other guidelines that I haven’t thought of yet, but I’m only going to learn them through continued efforts.