It’s always difficult to accept criticism. Our natural response is to harden our shells as a way of deflecting the slings and arrows. Even now, if I was being self-critical… I’m using way too many cliches. The very process of putting your work into focus and holding it up against the light is something that doesn’t come easily. It involves stepping back to gain a broader perspective, taking a deep breath and then analysing the work from an outsider’s perspective.
We want to feel in control, talented and able, which is why poking holes in the fabric of our writing is so painful. Self-analysis is painful, it’s challenging to cut things back, deconstruct our words, refocus our themes, excavate our characters and make decisions that cause you to gulp. However, this is a skill that writers need to adopt in order to sharpen their craft, hone their skills and present the best work possible.
You may enjoy the writing process of actually getting material down on paper, the creativity of dreaming up your next scene or problem-solving for your characters. However, this is the pleasure of the drafting phase when you’re opening yourself up to be as receptive to all ideas and embracing new possibilities. Writer’s (b)lock aside, this is when we’re least critical of ourselves, trying to soak up the fresh and original sparks without being overly judgmental. We want to have something to show for our time, brainstorming and efforts.
The self-critical phase is once the oil paint has hit the canvas. We need to be able to turn the painting upside down, take some steps away from it, siphon our feelings out of the situation in order to find a Dr Spock viewpoint. This is when we have to narrow our focus, concentrating on the various elements that make up our work. Actively seeking this perspective gives us the tools we need to prune our work, cutting away the dead branches in order for new ones to grow.
Much of the challenge can be overcome through us changing our own view of this phase. Thinking of the benefits and keeping them front of mind can help overcome any misgivings about our own abilities or help us power through.
Here are some ways of motivating yourself…
- We’d rather be critical of our own work than have someone else weighing in at a later stage.
- Self-evaluation of our writing keeps our work sharp, lean and free from clutter.
- Taking the time to criticise our writing actually makes it better for our audience’s overall enjoyment.
- Refining and rewriting are just a normal and healthy part of the writing process.
- Passing a critical eye over our own work gets easier with practice.
- Improving your writing generally leads to more income.
- Your self-direction can result in a more polished product and help sell your next work.
- Keeping your writing fresh and fine-tuned establishes your reputation and will get your work more attention.
If you feel like you’re still not getting it, there’s no harm in getting another person’s perspective. It could be a friend, a colleague or a service like reviewmyscript.com. We’re here to assist you get the best possible version of your writing, here to help you reach your full potential and serving as a way of achieving your vision. Writing can be a lonely path but having people equipped to give you valuable feedback, offer suggestions, coach you to better writing just makes the process of re-evaluating and refining that much easier.