29 April

Fear of Being Critiqued...


New writers get their feelings hurt when someone reads their manuscript and points out the inherent flaws. They might not admit the hurt, but it's there...
It amazes me why writers should be any different from any other apprentice in any other métier.
If a beginner pianist gets a note wrong in the song they are playing, everybody listening — including the pianist — knows they made a mistake.
They accept the pianist needs more practice.
The pianist accepts they need more practice.
Nobody gets offended.
Nobody debates the issue.
The pianist gets more practice and someday soon they will perform the piece again without those flaws. Nobody has a meltdown about it.
Then WHY do beginner writers not accept this fact?
Because writing is broken down like this:
20% skill
9% imagination
1% luck
70% psychological.
Yes, my furry wittle writers... the greatest percentage of successful writing is to surmount the psychological.
It will happen, but not without extreme amounts of practice, completing many types and lengths of works on many subjects with many styles of delivery utilized, and ALL ably critiqued.
No, my pretties, it doesn't happen because you own a pen and some paper or a laptop, and you happen to have a thought in your head.
I'll repeat that: It doesn't happen because you own a pen and some paper or a laptop, and you happen to have a thought in your head.
The fear of critique disintegrates the moment you accept this fact.
You are freed from any Ego you are petting right now inside your head.
You accept you ARE an apprentice.
You accept you WILL make mistakes.
You acknowledge it's your craft that needs work, NOT your person.
So, what does this awareness do for you? 
You no longer feel afraid of submitting your manuscripts to others for assessment. 
Note: by "others" I mean learned souls when it comes to the mechanics of writing - plot/character development, style consistency, grammar/proofing.
And no, your mother doesn't count as a learned soul unless she's an English or Creative Writing university prof, and can distance herself from being your mom (likely not).
From this point forward, you EXPECT to get your manuscript back with as much red pen ink on it as the original black. And when you do, you LEARN from those corrections.
You don't ignore them.
You don't avoid them.
You don't gloss over them.
You own and internalize them, and take them as GIFTS, never making those same mistakes again.
Example in Point: I once typed the word, "shinny" instead of "shiny" in a manuscript. Word confusions like this are tricky to locate by a writer, but, of course, my beta reader easily caught it, and chuckled! And I laughed too, feeling like a 4-square idiot! Well, let me tell you, a month doesn't go by that I don't read either of those words or attempt to use those words that my past gaffe doesn't spring to mind, and I smile. And that mistake happened YEARS ago!
If the reader hadn't pointed that error out to me, how would I have known to be more careful in searching for similarly spelled word sets? That critique became a lifelong gift!
After many years of writing manuscripts with words written into the multi-millions, I no longer fear critique.
I expect it.
I welcome it.
And if someone who reads my MSs doesn't have anything critical to say, then I get suspicious, and look even harder for the gaffes I KNOW are there.
And as new writers, so should you!
Remember what I said: writing is mostly a psychological endeavor. The sooner you get over yourself and let your Ego take a flying leap, the sooner your craft will improve.
Reality Check: You will be correcting your works and learning this craft for the rest of your life. There are no perfect writers. Ask any master pianist.

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