Five stages that follow a writing critique

Dealing with critiques

For writers, an important and essential tool for success is the critique. In fact, receiving constructive criticism over anything in life can be most helpful. Keep in mind there is a strong difference between criticism meant to demoralize and criticism meant to correct or offer another way of seeing something. Here, I’m talking about the constructive kind.

In the case of writers, many of us shrink at the thought of having our hard work receive even one single word against it. It hurts, no denying it. There is so much blood, sweat and time put into what we write that even the smallest of criticisms can feel overwhelming.

So how do we turn any criticism into something for our benefit rather than our destruction?

Believe it or not, I love getting input and feedback (constructive criticism) on my writing. It’s frightening and my heart skips a few beats when I hit that send button that puts my writing under the scrutiny of a reader. And yes, the feedback stings at first, or sometimes it’s more on the level of a punch to the gut, but in the end, I always grow from the experience. Always. Then I begin again, this time with the fire of confidence, determination, passion and direction burning in my belly. Or is it in my fingers?

So listen and learn from what the reader or critique partner tells you. You won’t agree with everything they suggest, but you will learn from those suggestions. Some you’ll use, some you won’t, but all will be valuable.

Below is an example of the five stages I tend to go through before I reach that place where my passion for my writing is once again on fire. I hope, if you have a similar first reaction to your critiques, you find this article helpful and motivating.

Stage 1-Denial. Telling myself they don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re wrong. There is no way I made those mistakes, or that my word usage isn’t working, or I left out that important piece, or or or. They got it wrong.

Stage 2-Deflation. It starts to sink in just a little and I realize most of those suggestions and corrections might have merit. So I must suck. How could I have made mistakes in areas I know better? Or how did I not see that? How horrible of a writer am I? Shouldn’t I know better by now?

Stage 3-Sadness. Why do I bother? I don’t have what it takes. No talent. I’ll never get it right, I should quit now. Even though the thought of not writing hurts so deep it’s almost physical, I should stop.

Stage 4-Acceptance. Maybe some, or all, of what they’ve told me is true. I see it now. And none of it is quite so bad. Everyone makes mistakes, even the most seasoned writers make lots of mistakes before their story is ready for submission and publication. I’m fine. I can do this. I will do this. This is being a writer.

Final stage-Excitement. This is when I feel like my brain is on fire. In a good way. I work on the areas of suggestion, excitement building as I take on the challenge. Now I see how much better the work is, having been directed in subtle and not-so-subtle ways down the right path. That’s all I needed to make this piece work, another set of eyes. Or a few sets of eyes. I’m so excited! I can do this. I am doing this!

To be clear, I experience these stages in the span of about 48 hours, no longer. But it’s an uncomfortable 48 hours for sure.

All of those emotions, or stages of emotions, are powerful and necessary. I don’t skip or ignore any of them. Any form of art or expression comes from a place deep inside of us, and when someone pokes at that spot with a sharp tool, it’s going to hurt. But it will also toughen up in time. And the better we get, the more seasoned of a writer, the fewer the pokes. But there will ALWAYS be poking, because we are always learning.

Check out this in-depth and helpful article from The Writer.

Writing is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. People quit all the time. But if you look at every gaping hole in the road as an opportunity to learn and grow so you can walk around or jump over that hole, you will one day reach your goal. Then you will set a new goal and learn and grow even more!

Hang in there my friends, you’ve got this.

Thank you for visiting my blog and happy reading (and writing!).

Inspirational quote:

Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance.”—Abigail Adams

Book Recommendation/suggestion:

The Violets of March, by Sarah Jio

Having read this book about a year and a half ago, I can’t give an accurate review now, but I do remember enjoying the book AND I did give it 4 stars on Goodreads…

The Violets of March

The following blurb is taken from Goodreads:

_In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily’s good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life._

Just for fun, strange and interesting vocabulary word from the word nerd:


Octothorpe is the actual word for the symbol #, not the more commonly known term of “hashtag”.

Who knew?!

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