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Dealing with constructive criticism (it sucks)

The first time I received proper feedback from a professional editor was during the process of working on my adult fantasy novel for Scarsdale publishing. First off, I want to make it clear that this process made me a much better writer and storyteller, there are just no two ways about it. But when I received that first round of critique I had to go outside, touch grass and play with my dog because I was ROCKED. I wondered if I’m even a good writer because there were so many critiques, and the whole manuscript was marked up.

I messaged a friend of mine and he told me that he also received a lot of critique and feedback when he first got his job. He just took it as part of the job and learning how to do the job because he was a graduate and fresh out of University. Looking at it from the perspective of a new jow really helped me deal with it all. I don’t have a creative writing degree or anything like that and the fact of the matter is they are things for me to learn about effective writing and storytelling. I’m thankful to Scottsdale for recognising my baby talent and taking the time to help me grow into a good writer.

If you’re lucky you’ll find an agent who’ll go through this kind of process with you and work on your manuscript to make it better. I believe this kind of agent is called an editing agent. Not all agents are editing agents so decide what you want from an agent and, when you get to the point of THE CALL, ask tons of questions. I had a whole list for my agent, Aida, and she’s just the kind of agent I want.

But yeah, in-depth criticism was difficult in the beginning and I really struggled with it. I’m a person that doesn’t even like to be teased. I don’t like criticism. But once I started reading through everything and engaging with the editor’s comments to understand the changes, I saw how much better the book could become. Having professional advice is lucky and your book can probably always be a little better. Try to see beyond your own ego and see how it could be better and where you might be wrong.

I’d advise not holding on to your book too tightly. I know that’s difficult because your book is something so personal. It comes from your heart, it’s the emotions you spent, the time and energy poured in. But hold it loosely if you can. Try to see it as something that is moldable, with space for improvement. Criticism, especially when it’s constructive, doesn’t have a direct reflection on you. The imperfections in your manuscript aren’t imperfections on your heart, soul or talent. Some poorly written sentences and badly expressed ideas doesn’t mean you’re a poorly written sentence or an imperfectly expressed idea.

You wrote a whole book, tens of thousands of words, of course it’s not all perfect.

And it’s okay that your book isn’t perfect, don’t let your attachments to the manuscript stand in the way of the story and what it might become. Be easy on yourself, allow yourself and your book to require improvement. And that’s just fine.

But, if you think you’re perfect and your book is perfect and it needs no constructive criticism or feedback of any kind then I don’t have anything to say to you except I think this journey might be pretty tough on you.


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