Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Everybody's A Critic

Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. ~Aristotle

So, I've been thinking a lot about rejection. Between job hunting and submitting fiction, rejection is pretty much what I'm breathing these days.

More to the point, I've been thinking about what often heralds (or follows along) with rejection. Criticism.

All writers face criticism—it's part of the lifewhether it's from other writers, friends, family, spouses, agents, annoyed readers, managing editors, or even random passersby. For every person who likes what you write, a handful will be indifferent and a couple will hate it (and they tend not to be shy about letting you know they hate it).

Part of being a writer is learning how to deal with that criticism. Because if you don't find a healthy way to deal with it, it can tear out your soft, pulpy-pink insides and leave you questioning your abilities and wondering why the hell you're putting yourself on display.

So how do you deal with it?

In my experience, it's easier to deal with criticism once you have an understanding of what constitutes effective criticism and embrace this fact: not all criticism is equal.

Look at it this way: at the end of the day, we're all critics. We know what we like, what we don't like, what we're indifferent to. But just as our personal likes and dislikes don't give us a magical scepter of objective artistic judgement, they don't make us effective critics.

Effective criticism requires time, reason and a willingness to converse.

And dealing with criticism means you need to be learn to separate the crap from the cream. Of course, then you need to learn how to digest the cream. And writers are notorious for being lactose int...wait...where was I going with that metaphor?

Never mind.

In this "Everybody's A Critic" series of posts, I'll talk about the types of criticism, what makes a good critic, and throw out some bits of advice I've picked up here and there on dealing with and responding to criticism.

But until we get there, how about a few anecdotes?

What's some of the most amusing criticism (good or bad) you've ever received? Did it help? Did it hurt? 

Look out for: Part II - Everybody's A Critic: Types of Criticism.

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