Embrace and Conquer

Sweet and Soothing
Many fellow bloggers and writers, me included, often battle with the dreaded inner critic.  It can hinder our progress, bring us down and prevent us from sending our words out into the wider world. Even more frightening is the prospect of our work succumbing to criticism. But I would argue, criticism has its place and without it we wouldn’t strive to become better at our craft. Would you agree?

As I was cleaning my book shelf at the weekend I became distracted and started to read a few pages of the books, which had collected far too much dust. One book in particular, an old university philosophy book, grabbed my attention. Aristotle discussed criticism. He suggested, “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.” What an interesting viewpoint.

What I try to do, and it is not easy, is to embrace critique by putting it into context. I liken it to the arduous task of resisting a slice of chocolate cake (with my name on it) when I’m supposed to be eating healthy. If my inner critic is taking over, I stop to think why, reason with it and then control it. If that doesn’t work, I tend to email a writing friend (my precious Butterfly) who will quickly put me right. If my work is being critiqued by a professional, I listen to the advice and act accordingly. Although, I must admit when I received my first few critiques I did need a few tissues before the reasoning set in. 

In terms of public criticism, it is important to keep in mind that most of it is personal opinion. We all write in our own voice and need to accept our writing will not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’. One piece of invaluable advice I was given a few years ago was to make sure I listen to and remember the positive viewpoints of those who enjoy reading my work and not allow negative comments to become the focal point. 

I would be interested to hear how you cope with criticism. Do have a magic formula to share?

Comments

  1. a gun for the really bad critics. Otherwise, a baseball bat works.

    ;O]

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  2. You are funny :) I hope that tactic is only used in your books :)

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  3. That's a wise way to view criticism.
    I handle critiques such as those from my critique partners because I know they are only trying to make my work better. (That they also have a great sense of humor, especially in their comments, really helps!)

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    1. A sense of humour is a must, I think. To have critique partners is a great resource. Thanks for popping over to comment Alex. All the best.

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  4. Ugh! Critiques suck. But what I've found is that you have to read it, go away from it, then come back to it later. Otherwise you get that icky feeling inside. I am a freelance writer for my day job and I always dread opening an email when I can see it says, "This is great, but..." because I know it's going to give me a case of the ickies!

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    1. Chocolate cake is a great icky antidote, Stephanie :) Thanks for taking the time to share. It makes us all feel better knowing we are not alone in this battle.

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  5. No one likes to be critiqued, but it does help us become better at what we do. I've developed a thicker skin over the years, but sometimes it does get under the defenses. Doing something else helps, like housework or taking a walk. Chocolate cake would definitely help too! :)

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    1. My self-critic emerged yesterday so I went out and did some serious weed pulling in the garden. I'd like to say I woke up feeling revitalised but my body just feels like I've done a few rounds in the boxing ring :) The writing has worked out better though. Thanks for popping over to comment Christine.

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  6. Seems to me what Aristotle was saying is that the only way to avoid criticism is to do and say nothing, which isn't possible, especially for writers. I like your idea of embracing it and putting it into context. Thanks for your thoughtful comment on my blog. It helped me.

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    1. Lovely of you to stop by, Karen. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Best of luck with your upcoming novel. Stay strong and enjoy the journey.

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  7. I don't mind being critiqued. I hate being criticized, but I think everyone does. Although, one way I deal with both of these is to try and learn from what's being said. Why is it that Aristotle thought of just about everything we categorize under wisdom and set it down so eloquently? Thanks for the post.

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    1. Isn't it funny how that inner gritty, blood racing feeling rises whenever we are criticized. Don't know quite how to put that feeling into words but its obviously put there for a reason - maybe to teach us humbleness? Thank you so much for popping over the pond to comment. Wishing you continued success and lots of sales.

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  8. I often read through what the critique is saying and then take time away from it and the work (a few days, a week). Then I can come back with a clearer head and work on fixing the problems I agree need fixing.

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    1. I like what you say, Cherie about fixing the problems if (and only if) you agree as the writer. Really pleased you stopped by to comment. Thank you.

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  9. A great post, Nicola. I think we have to develop broad shoulders as writers and accept a critique as a way of improving our writing. However, I do think we accept the critique more easily if it's from a person whose views we respect. I also agree that we should only accept the parts of the critique with which we agree.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your views, Jan. Lovely to 'see' you.

      ps: my shoulders are now beginning to look something like Joan Collins' shoulder pad days :)

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  10. I embrace critique as long as it is from a trusted source. I listen and mostly follow the advice given, especially if more than one person says the same thing.

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    1. Thank you for popping by to comment, Maria.

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  11. I'm responsive to helpful critiques given in a respectful tone. I believe in room for improvement, so I need to hear what I need to work on.

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