Criticism... How do you deal with it?

Monday, January 30, 2012
Good morning, readers!

Ahhh it's another Monday. I hope everyone had a great weekend and is ready to start the week off right.

Today's post is about criticism and how to deal with it.

When I decided to enter literary land I don't think I was even remotely prepared for what all of it entailed. I just said hey, I'm going to write a book. I'd always been a reader, I'd taken some great writing classes, and I'd won some writing contests when I was a kid, and was always dreaming up stories and writing them down.

My Mom still looks at me oddly every time she sees me when I mention something involving the literary world and shakes her head. "You're such a dreamer, Laur," she tells me.

And I always reply with, "What's wrong with being a dreamer?"

I love my Mom and she's supportive, but she just doesn't get it.

Where am I going with this?

I'll tell you.

In the writing world we open ourselves up to criticism all the time. And it's part of the profession. Whether we get criticism from our Cp's, readers, editors, agents etc... The list goes on and on.

What's important is how we handle it. And how we learn and grow from it.

I can tell you this I wrote the first draft of my first book when I was nineteen years old and it took me eight years, to find myself as a writer and I'm telling you this, I still learn something new every day.

LOL. Sometimes I wish I could rewind time and teach the nineteen year old Lauren the things the twenty seven year old Lauren knows.

But I don't have a time machine.

Yet.

And I'll tell you something else; There is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting you don't know everything when it comes to your craft and there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help.

If you can't handle the criticism that accompanies literary land than you're not ready for the next step in your career.

I know it's hard. It sucks really, when you pour your heart and soul into something and you get it back from you CP, agent, editor, or even read a review from a reader, and they don't really think it's as great as you do.

But...

As a writer, or anyone in the literary field, there's a certain amount of professionalism you should display.

1. Be prepared for harsh feedback. You're gonna get it sometimes and honestly, I think that's the best kind. If you can't handle it, step away from the keyboard and take a breather because once you get further into your career you're gonna get even more of it and if you can't handle it before you've been published...

Well I think you get the picture.

2. The beauty of the world is that everyone is different and not everyone is going to like what you've written. Even though, for the most part, I always like to think positive you have to look at the negative aspects of the industry logically.

Nobody is out to get you. People want to love your book as much as you do. But that's not always the case. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and you may not see it that way, but it's their opinion, not yours.

I like to use a line from something my aunt said to me when Famished first came out and I got my first not-so-pleasant review for it. She looked at me and said, "Sweetheart, you have to be prepared for these things. You have to be able to learn how to take it. There are millions of people in the world and not everyone is going to think the same thing. Some people aren't going to like it and some people will love it. And the best advice I can give you is work hard, learn from your mistakes, and grow as not only an author/agent, but as a person."

And I have...Trust me.

3. Try to inspire others. I always try to be enthusiastic and positive and I always try to find something good in everything. That's just me. And most importantly, I try to encourage writers to hang in there and never give up because no matter where you are in your career, if you take the time, put in the passion and effort, someday you'll get all the success you deserve.

This industry can be frustrating. We all know this. And I can't tell you how many times I've had to talk myself out of giving up... But I didn't and neither should you.

I'm gonna throw another family example and this person is the main reason why I never gave up in this field. My Grandpa John. He's 82 and still truckin. LOL.
I'm from a very small town and there's not much of a creative outlet at all. So, I get a lot of comments from my family, (even though they are supportive at times) about me re-thinking my career.

On top of the dreamer comment my mom likes to say, "Why did you pick the hardest career to try and succeed in?"

Because Mom...That's who I am.

Then my grandmother will add, "Lauren, you're not going to succeed here.You need a different kind of job."

And this is what my grandpa does every time my grandma makes that comment. His big blue eyes go wide and he looms behind my grandmother shaking his head, and whispers, "Don't listen to her. I'm so proud of you. Keep doing what you're doing."

It's remembering those conversations that have kept me going. Thank you Papa. I love you...(Not trying to get mushy... I'm just saying...I hope everyone has someone like my papa. Because in this difficult field we all need someone like that in our corner. We all need someone to give us that extra push in the right direction, especially when the going gets tough.)

I think it's beautiful thing when a person who has worked so hard achieves every goal they've set out for themselves.

In the agenting world I set a mini goal for myself when I started. I said I'm going to try and sell at least one of every one of my clients' books. So far, I've reached the 50% mark and I'm proud of that. I've only been agenting for 11 months, so reaching that goal for me was a huge accomplishment. I tell my girls be prepared for the happy dance because I usually jump up and down and squeal with delight when they get an offer.

Yeah... I'm hyper. I think I drink way too much coffee. LOL.

4. Lastly, write, write, write... I get new ideas daily. And you never know which book may be "the one" for you. If you've discovered yourself as a writer and know your strengths pull from that. I know you've got that best seller inside of that brain of yours somewhere.

I hope some of this helps you guys!

Have a great week!

Cheers!

9 comments:

  1. Lauren,

    I love this post! It's exactly what I needed to hear, and I totally love the idea of how to see criticism as a vehicle for improving oneself as a writer. I am 1000% committed to that!

    Having worked through 8 cover to cover drafts of my WIP, and each time I go back, I STILL find things I want to deepen, layers of meaning I want to draw out more in the writing. Writing a novel is a process, and it's as tough as giving birth. (I'm totally prepared to have you all throw rotten eggs or tomatoes at me since I'm male, but I've been through four births with my wife, and I've live through tough things myself, pain that lasts longer that birth)

    And, even still, each day I wake up, I have a hundred stories and a cavalcade of characters jostling around in my mind to be written down. I can't help it, and I don't want to! I know who I am and I'm determined to see my dreams fulfilled! Thank you for supporting and inspiring your fellow writers!

    Oh, and I am such a huge coffee drinker, too! I can totally relate to that sentiment.

  1. I enjoyed your article but especially point no. 4. Your grandpa is an awesome guy and I try to be a grandpa like that to my grandson.

    I started writing in grammar school and kept it up until I was about 20. I wasn't discouraged by the stack of rejection slips I received. It was the lack of understanding from those closest to me that caused me to completely give it up. I started back when I was 58... I am now 61. I haven't submitted anything but I have found a whole world of people who appreciate what I do. They are my internet friends.
    When I started comics I was very bad...and I'm still not professional but the advice and help...yes some in the form of criticism from my internet friends has helped me to learn so much.
    Thanks for the article and remember... Keep doing it. It is part of who you are and even if you never even try to be published...do it for you.

  1. Lauren, I love that you celebrate with us when we get an offer. I remember I was the only one awake in my house when you called, so I couldn't scream out loud. But you did it for me. :D Love that about you. This was a great post. Definitely something every writer should hear.

  1. Lauren, you're so awesome :D
    What a great post.
    I am SO lucky when it comes to my family because they've been behind me all the way. my mom finally broke down and bought a kindle, just so I could send her my word docs and she could read all my books without killing a forest.

    And yeah. There's NOTHING we can do about criticism except how we choose to react to it, because in the writing world, it will never go away. Those of us who push through it, are the ones who will make it.

  1. This post is just what I need: encouragement. Thanks.

  1. This industry does require a thick skin. Thanks for an excellent post that many of us writers need to hear.

  1. What an inspirational post! You are right- in the writing field you have to be prepared to hear criticism. Not everyone likes the same books. No matter how popular a book is (Harry Potter)- there will be people that don't agree. Once you accept the criticism you can learn from it and make changes, if necessary. Your Papa sounds like a wonderful person! My mom is supportive of me like that- but so many people just don't get it!

    Thanks for sharing!

    ~Jess
    http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

Post a Comment