May ,27 2015
Writing Wisdom #6: Criticism

wisdom6 Out of all the blog posts I write, this series is one I enjoy the most and I am pretty proud of overall. Being that this week has been jammed packed with editing and developing new characters for me, this post struck me as a must do to add to ‘Writing Wisdom’. Plus, I even designed a new graphic, which if you follow me on Twitter (which is @EtteElla by the way) you’ll know I was pretty excited about it. Considering I had to mesh so many different photos I just shot at the ROM, I’m calling this one an editing victory! If you haven’t begun reading this series yet, then you can click (here!) to start at the very beginning, a very good place to start *breaks into The Sound of Music soundtrack* : ) Therefore, today’s topic is criticism in the blogging and literary world.

Separating Criticism from Hate

In the age of social media, anyone at anytime can share their opinion. If they liked a movie, hated a new restaurant, or are generally mad at humanity, words of distaste can immediately splatter all over the internet for everyone to see. To often can those words be directed at a person. Putting someone down in a deeply personal attack is not, by any circumstances, criticism. It is simply what it feels like: hatred. This monster has learned to spawn into many forms ranging from Twitter toYouTube and even to blog comments. Only just a few days ago I engaged in a great conversation with a fellow blogger about how different this negative behaviour is from actual criticism though they can often be interpreted as the same thing. Criticism or critiquing is beneficial and constructive and is meant as a tool to help you succeed and improve your skills, especially in writing as in our case. Often there is a tendency for an immediate personal outrage in self defence if you feel someone is unfairly missing your vision or twists your work in a way that you disagree with, but no need to launch a full throttle assault. When your work, stories, blogs, poems and the like, are being constructively criticized the first thing you need is to step back and listen. Having completed something you’re really proud of and then hearing someone tell you it was just okay or is in need of a ton of reworking is disappointing. They may comment that your spelling needs improvement or your sentences are too long. But this type of comment is not hate. They’re not telling you to never write again and they’re not saying that the dreams you have of being a full time author, journalist, or blogger are foolish. What they’re saying is: to improve do this, this, and this. Having been on the side of rejection letters and multiple rewrites and tweaks for improvement, its important to not take it personally. It’s your work, yes, it’s your format, yes, but the suggestions are not a personal attack. Taking them personally and interpreting them as hate instead of constructive criticism, will do nothing but bring you down and make you lose the learning experience.

Dealing with Criticism

Not Everyone is the Same

A real ground breaking thought there, haha! Reading is a personal preference hobby and what I may choose to read could differ greatly from what you choose to read. Neither your pick or my pick is of any less value. Your readers may not enjoy everything you’ve written 100% of the time, and that’s perfectly all right! They don’t have to like it every time. As long as you do, that’s all you need to care about.

Adjust to Peer Editing Early On

Most likely, in elementary school you were forced to experience switching papers with a partner so you could each read over the others work. Getting used to other people reading your writing the easier it will be to take what other people have to say and apply it.

The Joy of Blocking People

This is the most helpful tip when we talk about writing on blogs. If you are or have experienced hateful comments on your blog (I’m sorry if you have), get rid of them. Plus, adding words these haters happen to keep using towards you into a spam filter will automatically sift them from view and you’ll never have to see them again. Easy! On social media, block them and talk with someone you trust if you feel you need to. Blogging and writing are meant to be fun. Don’t let anyone ruin something you enjoy.

Don’t Forsake the Dream

I touched on this briefly above but I want to say it twice to make sure it comes across. Accepting what other people have to say about your work and building on it is extremely important. Don’t run away at the first sign of red on your paper. One red comment doesn’t mean all your efforts are wiped out in the blink of an eye. Take a breath and focus on moving forward. You need to hear areas to improve on to strengthen your craft.

Building a List

Who doesn’t love list making? The main comment I used to see a lot on my papers in early high school was ‘awkward phrase’. It plagued me for what seemed like years until I final took it into my own hands. Instead of reading over comments my teachers wrote and thinking: ‘oh come on, sir, I think I deserve a bit higher than 87’, I started to make a list of their corrections. After writing my next paper, I would have a look at the list and check for each one. The same goes for blog writing or creative writing. If you’re not a strong speller, put it on the list. If you have poor grammar, put it on the list! You’ll come to love your own personal checklist. Let me know what you think : ) Happy Wednesday! xo Novellette

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