The Great Joy of Criticism

…rock. Sometimes.

One of the hardest aspects of creating something, whether that is a novel or a blog post, is being criticised about your own creation. Because when you make it, it might seem the most perfect thing in the world to you, or something at least acceptable. Criticism, if not well-handled, acts as a swift, demotivating kick in the teeth. It’s why so many new writers, new bloggers, new artists, new <insert creative individual here> give up so quickly. They don’t yet know the secret of the successful people: criticism is the true chisel to your block of marble, not your own fanciful ideas and original ventures. That kick knocks you down, but to get anywhere, the frustration of it better make you get the hell up again.

Everyone’s been there. On WordPress, it’s the beginning of blogging and the stage where the novelty wears off, where you’re waiting for a like or comment. And one comes along, but it’s one of disagreement. Or you’ve settled on one topic for your blog, and someone comes along who says that they dislike the way you do things, that the way you write seems forced or unnatural.

And you get mad. Don’t deny it, you get mad.

Maybe you’re sure that you’re blogging about what you’re passionate about, and you think this guy’s obviously come to the wrong blog. And maybe you’re right, he has. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use his criticism. You can use it strengthen what you write, maybe to give readers notice about your blog’s focus, or to examine other opinions whilst maintaining your own. Because there is you, the blogger, and there is also your audience. Blogging is an exchange between blogger and audience, and wider opinion only means more is learnt and shared.

Many of you likely realise that I’m still working on my NaNoWrimo novel, which currently sits at around 59000 words. That may sound like a lot, but its still about 13000 words off my target goal. Recently I ventured back to an old writing support website I used to hang around, and posted a chapter excerpt to be reviewed. And I did get that kick in the teeth. And it was painful. Painful because I’ve kept the majority of my manuscript to myself, not shown it around to anyone, and somewhere in the process of writing I’d forgotten that creativity needs an audience. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, I’m determined to correct my mistakes and keep on working. The same thing happens in my college essays, but each time I get up again to try again. Eventually, I’ll get it. Eventually, you’ll get it. And if even one new creative mind elsewhere could get it, then that’s one more artistic and individual mind we have in our society. One more person who did not give in.

And yeah, sometimes criticism is just not constructive. Sometimes its just a load of crap, and you’re justified in ‘accidentally’ deleting that comment. While there’s a great joy to be had in criticism, the joy of improvement, sometimes it’s easier to ignore something non-constructive than to get in a mutually-degrading shouting match with what is more often that not a childish troll.

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11 thoughts on “The Great Joy of Criticism

    1. dlaiden Post author

      Thanks. 🙂 I think we all have at some point, or in an odd way aspire to be, especially because we know it tends to be the road to improvement. One of life’s many lessons so many beginners need to learn!

      Reply
    1. dlaiden Post author

      Thanks for the offer! I’d need to go over at least the opening chapter, I think, before unleashing it again to unsuspecting persons. 😛 But if the offer still stands then, I’d be very happy to take you up on it. 😀

      Reply
  1. Thomas

    Great post, you’re right that we tend to deflect criticism with anger or denial but in the end we should accept it and utilize it to our advantage – if the criticism isn’t constructive at all, we can always ignore it. Just wondering, what writing website do you use? I’m attempting my first writing project and I could use some critiques as well.

    Reply
    1. dlaiden Post author

      Yup! I suppose the only problem with my approach is the small sect of people who insist that criticism they particularly disagree with is also not constructive, but ah, they’re pretty much hopeless anyway. 😉 And I use YWS, at http://www.youngwriterssociety.com. It’s fairly small compared to places like Wattpad, but it’s full of dedicated and talented teenage writers who are always keen to review others’ work–so long as you also do some reviewing. I find that doing reviews does wonders for my Lit essay writing anyway, so it’s a win-win. 😉 Good luck with it! I’m always personally ready to look over a chapter or section in progress as well, if you like. Writers, especially the young, need all the support we can get. 🙂

      Reply
  2. livesinstone

    Congrats on your word count, that’s impressive. 🙂 Criticism can suck, particularly if the person criticising it doesn’t “get it” or is trying to cramp your writing style into something that sounds more like their own. You’ve got the right idea though, consider the good, try not to take it personally (easier said than done *sigh*) and if they can’t justify the criticism then ignore it. Take it all with a grain of salt, and be prepared buy salt in bulk. 🙂 Good luck with your writing. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Blogging & Ethics | Vina Raksta

  4. Dan

    Great post. I definitely agree that when it comes to criticism sometime you have to let it hit you full force instead of deflecting it.

    Reply
  5. dave dalton

    Wow. Disarmingly well written. I once heard that being FAT can be healthy. Faithful, Approachable and Teachable. This inspired me, as I’ve found myself reluctantly, but unavoidably perched on a pedestal I didn’t mean to create, but had to be created. If you don’t like the feel of an “unwelcome” chisel on a rock, then just don’t carve out a rock and put it on display. Great blog, I already forgot how I found it, but glad I did.

    Dave

    Reply

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