Okay, so. After my last announcement I was feeling pretty awesome, and then almost immediately after got some advice/critique that immediately deflated any burdgeoning ego.
My ego has self-confidence issues.
But, in all honesty, deflation like that is necessary. Without honest critique I’d hit a plateau and then end up staying there for god knows how long. Sure there’ll be some things I could improve by practice, but critique and constructive criticism is a jetpack on the hike up ‘writing’ mountain. That’s a terrible metaphor but shut up it’s Monday.
In my personal experience, learning how to take constructive criticism was one of (if not the) hardest lesson I had to learn so far in life. And that’s including my generation’s current ‘so we can’t actually do whatever we want if we work hard enough?’ life crisis. To anyone that says we can I have a couple choice words for you: Retirement, Gender Bias, Health Problems and Saturated Markets. But that’s another post.
When I was younger, I was dead set on becoming an author/artist combo who studied sharks for a living. But I knew I had to improve my art skills somehow (my shark skills were top-notch), so I signed up for night classes. It was an adult class, and without it, I’m pretty sure I’d be an emotional porcupine whenever anyone would offer a suggestion on my work.
Lord knows I was before I took that class. The teacher was tough, and decided she wasn’t going to coddle 13-year-old Alice. Instead she vigourously pointed out mistakes, but did (eventually) offer suggestions on how to improve.
Bitch, what do you mean my art isn’t PERFECT?!
Trial by emotional fire, I kid you not. But, again, necessary. Now I’d rather hear the blunt problems people can encounter with my writing. But that’s not to say that it’s easy to hear, just that I know it’s not personal (and if it is, then HATERS GONNA HATE) and that no response would be worst of all.
What caught me the other week was the scale of the criticism. “It’s your style, the flow, it’s all choppy.” That’s not something easy to fix, since it’s not limited to one story and it’s something that I very obviously didn’t see. Or, y’know, it wouldn’t be choppy.
It took a while to absorb, and digest and I’m still trying to figure out a way around it. It’s also hard to get motivated when I’m now studying every paragraph for choppiness, or lack of flow. It’s something I’ll need to do, but not during the first draft.
While doing this, I realised that the steps needed to absorb criticism are eerily similar to the 7 stages of grief.