Constructive Criticism – Yes, There Is Such a Thing!
by Patrick Hodges
One of the best mindsets you can have as an author is self-confidence. After spending months, years, even decades slaving over your manuscript, producing a final product that represents your hard work, your blood, sweat and tears, and countless sleepless nights, it is a good thing to be able type “THE END” and then say, “I’ve done it! This is the greatest book in the history of literature! In your face, William Shakespeare!”
Of course, it doesn’t take long, when you have slapped a cover on your book and shoved it out the door for all the world to see, for the first critiques to come in. And all the confidence in the world is what you’re going to need to withstand those critics who, sadly, do not think your work is the greatest book in the history of literature, and who leave comments along the lines of “Sorry, Mr./Ms. Author, you’re no William Shakespeare.”
The key to maintaining that positive attitude – and this is key if you’re going to going to be a writer – is to learn to accept that some of your critics are, believe it or not, trying to help you. And some of their criticisms are, in fact, valid. Because, and this is especially true if you have only produced one or two published works, there is always room for improvement. So suck it up and listen to what these critics have to say.
It’s unfortunate that the word “criticism” generally has a negative connotation. But criticism does not have to be a bad thing. We’ve all read books, watched movies, listened to songs we didn’t like. And we’ve all, without exception, wished we could tell the creator of whatever it is we saw, read, or heard what was wrong with their work and what we might have done differently. We think, therefore we judge. It’s part of being human.
Bottom line is – just because we think something is great doesn’t mean it is. The people who read your stuff are just as entitled to their opinions as you are. And if you want to grow as a writer, you need to step back from your own viewpoint, occasionally see things from their points of view, and realize that yes, there are things you can do to improve the quality of your work, so that next time, it will be the greatest book in the history of literature! (Well, the second greatest. My book still currently stands at #1.)
Patrick Hodges lives in Arizona with his wife of 15 years, Vaneza. After doing weekly columns for entertainment-related websites, he has turned his attention to writing fiction. He is passionate about sending positive messages to young people. Joshua’s Island is his first novel. A sequel is in the works. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or “like” him on Facebook.