Constructive Criticism – One of a Writers Greatest Assets

It hurts like a stab to the heart, like being told you’re not good enough. It often feels like a personal attack, yet constructive criticism is one of the most helpful tools in a writer’s arsenal for improving their craft.

Anytime a comment or suggestion is made to improve work that is based on a genuine desire to help write a better story, it needs to be welcomed like a rare gift, because often times it is. One can keep asking family and friends what they think about a story, and they’ll keep saying, “That’s nice,” “It’s really good,” or other vague compliments that do nothing to move the work forward.

Constructive criticism doesn’t always sound positive or feel good yet can’t be taken personally. Knowledgeable comments or suggestions for change will probably make your work better. Someone who offers a good critique shares what works as well as what doesn’t, showing how to flesh out the characters, drive the plot, offer better word choices, improve sentence structure, tighten the narrative, or anything else that serves to make an improvement in a written work.

Quote on Constructive Criticism

Someone may wrongly belittle a hopeful writer, but whatever immature insults are slung at their work have to be disregarded and chalked up to an inferior nature on the part of the unfair critic. If their comments aren’t positive or provide suggestions for positive change in the work, let it go, but know the difference between a person who is being deliberately hurtful or one who is genuine in their desire to be helpful.

Criticism is needed from other writers to get a better feel for the flavor and direction of a story. It’s valuable in predicting the response of the reader. It can develop a thick skin to taunting and slights, only allowing beneficial information to come through and can provide a stronger foundation for the entire manuscript to stand on.

All in all, constructive criticism is a tremendous asset and a necessary tool in the craft of writing.

Why Do We Hurt Those We Love?

In Book 1 of Eve’s Amulet, Carmena falls head over heels in love with Captain Sanders, yet she is guilty of hurting him:

Rocks [2]“I care about you, Charles.”
Then he eyed me as if he had emotional X-ray vision. “You smashed my skull with a rock.”
I shrugged. “Only out of necessity.”

Okay, so not all of us are guilty of physically hurting someone, but I’m mainly referring to emotional hurts. With skewered boundaries stemming from childhood dysfunction, we usually have a tendency to find similar relationships as adults. Many of us come to the realization that our adult relationships aren’t based on integrity––that is communicating honestly and staying true to our words. Then, our feelings of frustrations mount and hostile feelings turn into harsh words and actions.

We also take our unhappiness out on loved ones when we’re dissatisfied with our own lives instead of finding a way to create the change we want.

Why do our loved ones suffer our own frustrations? Here are some reasons why we subject them to poor treatment:

  1. They’re generally the ones who love us more unconditionally than others, and we know they won’t walk away. They’ll forgive us or at least put up with our outbursts.
  2. They’re the true object of our frustration.
  3. We take advantage of the fact that the low-self esteem of our loved ones permits them to be emotional punching bags.

None of these reasons makes it right to take our frustrations out on others. Resolve your feelings by being proactive and doing something that makes a positive difference.

  • Get through your fear and do what you’re afraid of and have the most resistance to. You’ll find more joy than you can imagine. Your happiness should positively affect your loved ones. And if not, you’re not responsible for their insecurities.
  • Decide if you want to work on the relationship or situation by temporarily walkingWalk Away away. (If you have a toxic relationship with people or a situation, walking away is about the only way to get clear headed outside of therapy.)
  • Be willing to honestly share your feelings, saying what hurts and why you were angry. Listen as others share the same with you. Be honest and forgiving, even if the other person doesn’t honor our feelings after we share. People who love you can eventually learn to have integrity by way of your example.
  • Never feel guilty for having to do what’s right for you, although it may not be right for others. As long as you’re not bringing physical harm to yourself or anyone else, you have a right to your own choices, even mistakes, whether others agree or not.

If you feel like sharing: how do you catch yourself when you inadvertently take your frustration out on your loved one? What could be done to end that pattern?

Elongated Sunset

Photo by Alexis Bracamontes