Skip to main content

IWSG March: Criticism

If you don't know what IWSG stands for you'd be like me a few months ago. It stands for Insecure Writer's Support Group. We post the first Wednesday of the month. I took a few months off but am back this month to post about criticism. Before we get to that, if you would like to learn more and think this is a group that might be a good fit for you, visit the blog of its creator, Alex Cavanaugh, here.





Most artists are sensitive. It motivates us and enables us to penetrate the surface of situations, seeing the world in a unique way. Sensitivity can lend itself to vulnerability. Artistic people need constructive criticism to hone their craft. Criticism, however, particularly in the age of the internet, comes in many shapes and nameless forms. Before I was published, I noticed how actors took to their criticism. I heard, with great curiosity, how some said they never even read it. I read mine and then I don't for years, only to go back to it and read it again.

My experience has taught me that some people are just vindictive and spiteful. Others are lovely and supportive from their hearts and spirits. When there is a common thread to the criticism or praise, if you're the type to read it, it warrants attention. I go back and forth on the nasty criticism, to those who never look to those who spend all day reading and mulling over it.

I am working on numerous books at the moment. Once again I shelved the tendency to even think about criticism. In the past, I have looked, had high points and low. Now that I've moved on, I'm back into the seat of the writer and researcher, which by the way, is much more enjoyable. I'm feeling thoroughly creative and having fun.



Nike of Samothrace (Winged Victory).  Ca. 200-190 BC.  Marble


How do you handle criticism generally and of your writing or art? I'd love to hear from you...

Comments

  1. I've always been sensitive, especially as a kid. It was a burden back then but now it does help me with my writing. Except when I get that criticism, which I got from a beta reader last week and OUCH! She was BRUTAL! I stepped back though and looked at what she was saying and realized she was right, but how she said it was unnecessary. Beta readers and critique partners should be careful with their tones and words. Always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like your beta reader was just the opposite of you because you are so supportive and kindhearted to those who reach out to you. I content edit and I'm always careful to revise my reviews until I get just the right tone that would be helpful to the author. Some people don't have that self-edit button.

      Delete
  2. There is a fine line between healthy criticism and scathing criticism. More people need to learn where that line is.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If the criticism is handed out well, meaning some positive things are said first and then wording like "you might think about..., or this part didn't work for me and here's why..." then I handle it well. If it's harsh and judgmental without being constructive, it's much harder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that's how a good editor or reviewer should comment to get through to the writer/author. The harsh and judgmental approach doesn't work.

      Delete
  4. Constructive criticism, given with a sincere attitude of trying to help, to improve, to make better, is appreciated. It might still sting but I find I'm able to move through the hurt easier, faster, when I know it's coming from a good place, with good intentions.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's true, some critics are vicious. I've been reduced to tears and helplessness a number of times. Thank goodness for the ones who lift us, and for learning to use discretion when receiving feedback.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robyn, I've been there too! I find it helpful to look analytically at the critic, examining their motivation and aspirations, if you can. Often it explains a lot about why they came after you, invalidate what they've said, and leave you to look more towards those without agendas for criticism.

      Delete
  6. I think it's not only artistic types who are sensitive to criticism, but just about anyone who is being evaluated. Criticism automatically puts us on our defense in order to keep our pride intact and to counter back with our reasoning for why we did what we did.

    Criticism should be first judged on the basis of the source and the spirit in which it is given. Once we have weeded out useless, baseless, and potentially destructive criticism we can use the constructive criticism to help us improve. Getting past hurt and defensiveness can be the most difficult part of hearing criticism directed towards our work, but if we can steel ourselves accordingly we will take on the barbs as well as the good advice to make us grow.

    Often much easier said than done.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing this wisdom here at my virtual studio. It is much appreciated and makes perfect sense. I agree wholeheartedly.

      Delete
  7. Wnged Victory, yes?

    As much as I feel sorry for the people who need to tear down others to get their kicks, seeing that kind of spitefulness gets me worked up.

    I'm thankful for those who deliver their critiques in a kind and constructive way - it's a brave thing to do and helps us hone our craft.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Nicki, it's Winged Victory/the Nike of Samotrace. Sorry it's a bit hard to read at the moment but the caption is there. I share your gratitude towards those who are constructive but the spiteful really irk me.

      Delete
  8. Glad to hear you are feeling creative and getting some writing in. Criticism can be an interesting thing, but it really needs to be viewed through that filter of "where is this coming from?" as in, is it coming from a good place or a spiteful place? You see a lot of nasty reviews out there just for the sake of snark.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think I almost prefer criticism to being totally ignored, which also happens a lot with writing! When I was trying to get my novel critiqued, I had several people volunteer to read it and then I just never heard from them again. That was kind of painful. But all of it is good for thickening the skin and learning not to take any of it personally. It's easy then to separate the useful stuff from the non-constructive stuff so one can improve the work without getting paralyzed or beaten down by the criticism. Thanks for the very relevant post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! This is very relevant as well. A publicist said what you are say to me. She actually looked for how many times I had been reviewed, negative or positive didn't matter, it was the attention she was looking for towards my books. It gave her a indication of how much the public actually care enough about my work to write about it. On the other hand, as authors, we are attention creatures too. We need our attention. :)

      Delete
  10. I always take note of criticism - but I'm happy enough with my writing and style that I know what to accept and what to ignore. I tend to write books without definite endings, so any criticism of that goes over my head because I'm never going to be a ties-everything-in-a-neat-bow writer. Those readers would obviously just be more suited to a different author.

    Most importantly, you can't stress over every single thing people say, because a lot of it will contradict.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an interesting comment Annalisa. I like your point of view. Thank you!

      Delete
  11. Criticism can be really hard to take. Sometimes when I get a manuscript back from my critique partners, I have to read through what they say and then take a day or two or a week before opening up the documents and starting to make changes to the story. A lot of the time, I want to say, "But..." to what they said, but sometimes they're really right. I think the best thing with criticism is to find those you trust to be honest and not mean-spirited. Those are the ones you write/create for (beyond yourself, of course).

    ReplyDelete
  12. Cherie,I like your approach all the way around. The power of a supportive group of like-minded individuals also can never be underestimated, in terms of how helpful it can be. Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What interesting comments to your post Stephanie, all of them valuable. The way in which criticism is given makes all the difference. If it is constructive, this is a gift from the person doing the evaluating.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yes Susan these comments are interesting. It's nice to have such a lively conversation. From reading these, it would seem as though artful criticism is valuable to the critic as well as the person whose work is being criticized.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Go ahead. Make my day by leaving a comment.

Popular posts from this blog

Live it Like Lucy

So you made a mistake? Now what? Cover it up, fix it or apologize? How about…gasp, accessing the damage, learning what you can and then, moving forward?
I don’t know where you stand with your Judge but mine is ruthless. She looks down her nose at me constantly, worse of all, my Judge is within me, always ready to chirp in, whether I request it or not. I say, as I look forward to this New Year: Judge, you are dismissed! Get lost. Piss off.
I have made a mistake. Is it monumental? No. Will it hurt people? Yes. Most importantly, is it fixable? Yes!
No one likes making mistakes, but they happen. I love the “I Love Lucy Show” (the original, in black and white) because Lucille Ball’s outrageously humorous touch invites us to see mistakes in a funny way. We laugh with her not at her, as she falls into one unexpected dilemma after another. Instead of saying to ourselves: this is terrible; we ‘feel’ in our gut: this is funny!
What if our lives could be the same way? I know it would seem pecul…

2017 Presents a Fresh Start

Oh boy! It's been a while since I've been in this space. Apologies! There are so many things I have to do, want to do, need to do; sometimes blogging has to wait. Other times, like this morning, it calls to me. This morning it said: hey girlfriend, it's blogging time.

I get weird about New Year's. Some years I want to deny it; power through; act like somehow, it didn't happen. This year I am welcoming 2017 by doing my creative rituals, such as writing out intentions, otherwise known as resolutions, and creating a dream board (still in-process).

You've seen me write a lot about the Law of Attraction, and how the Universe is active in our every day lives, listening for our directives. I've seldom seen the Law of Attraction come to life so brilliantly as when I create and post a dream board somewhere in my home. Amazing! Have you created one? What has come from it?

In some ways I think 2016 was a terrible year. I was stuck, looking, waiting, wanting, but...not…

U is for Unexpected

un·ex·pect·edˌənəkˈspektəd/adjectivenot expected or regarded as likely to happen. "his death was totally unexpected"
synonyms:unforeseenunanticipatedunpredictedunlooked-forsuddenabrupt,surprisingunannounced "an unexpected change in plans"

There is a way we view our world. We know the players, the backdrop, the goings-on. But sometimes something so unexpected happens that it shakes up that orderly arrangement. This rearrangement, brought on by unexpected news makes you question all of the aforementioned parts of your seemingly orderly life.


I received some unexpected news yesterday. A friend of the family has been suffering with breast cancer, quite quietly, I might add. I had no idea, which also causes a variety of responses ranging from guilt to shame, and then inevitably the question rises, What to do?
The friend of the family has just always been there, at least for the past 12 years or so. She is an indirect friend, meaning our children our good friends…