Tabitha at Writer Musings led me to this article on "Tough Love" for writers.
as usual with most writing advice, I agree in part and disagree in
part. I do think that most of us overestimate the quality of our work
when we first start out. I do think that rigorous revising is important,
and that most writers have no idea when they embark upon a project just
how much editing it will need. I've also found that it's often
difficult for us to critique our own work at the level it needs.
maybe all that is nature's way of protecting us, of keeping us from
curling up in the fetal position and giving up before we even begin.
always needed that confidence--even if it qualifies as
overconfidence--to write anything in the first place. The first draft is
all about mental cheerleading for me.
And then I let the inner
critic out of the trunk where he hides out during drafting, and unleash
him on my manuscript. And later still, I invite other critiquers in. Not
with the ego-shattering force that the article describes, but with a
willingness to delete anything that doesn't belong. I don't need people
to come down on me "like a ton of bricks," "[tear] my stories to shreds
and [throw] them back at me ... shatter[ing] my ego ..." The fact is,
it's not about my ego at all. It's about the story. What makes it a
better story? Where is the plot unbelievable or slow? Which scenes are
contributing nothing? It's not personal. My book is not me.
sometimes get upset over criticism, but that's mostly because it means I
have a lot more work to do, and sometimes I don't see right away how on
earth I'm going to fix everything. Critique is not a judgment of me;
it's a to-do list. And whining over to-do lists is part of my
process--not the most glamorous part, to be sure, but the part that
clears out the sludge of my resistance so the words can flow again.
Look, it's not fun to rewrite seven chapters that you thought you were
done with, or switch the whole thing to a different POV, or cut the book
in half and rewrite the ending. It's much more fun to hear that you're a
literary genius and you don't have to rewrite a word.
is no good unless it's true, and praise alone doesn't help most writers
grow. Rejecting all criticism usually doesn't help much either. On
that, I agree with the article.
I suppose where I come down in
the end is that we need a balance of praise and criticism to keep us
going and keep us writing well. That mix varies from writer to writer
and even from day to day. Whatever works.