Creative Writing Tips - Dealing with Criticism

On this page, you'll find advice on dealing with criticism of your writing. Scroll down for more creative writing tips and advice on a wide range of topics.

From time to time, I hear from writers who are worried by feedback they've received on their creative work.

- One young man was upset because his high school teacher gave him low marks in writing.

- One poet had been criticized by someone for using question marks in a poem, which for some reason this reader thought was not a no-no.

- A fiction writer had applied for a well-known writer's conference and had been turned down on the basis of her writing sample.

Whenever you receive feedback on your writing, there are a few things that are important to remember.

- The feedback you get on a story or poem is not a measure of its potential. You can always decide to rewrite the piece and make it better.

- No feedback you receive can measure your potential as a writer. However good a writer you are now, you can always improve with practice.

- Any feedback you get is just one person's opinion -- even if the person is an expert; for example, a teacher or an editor. That is why many successful books were rejected by multiple publishing houses before they were finally accepted. Different readers have different tastes.

- Your story or poem belongs to you. You, the author, get to make the final decisions. If someone gives you feedback that doesn't make sense (for example, that poems shouldn't contain question marks), you don't have to follow that person's advice.

Listen to the feedback you receive. Is a certain part of your story confusing to readers? Then you might want to make it clearer. Does someone have an idea for restructuring your poem? Consider it.

Listen to the feedback. Sleep on it; give yourself time to think it over. Then decide what you want to do.

You don't need to change the reader's mind. You don't need anyone's permission. It's your story or poem, and you can write it however you want.

(And, by the way, that fiction writer who was rejected by the conference was accepted by the same conference the following year, and has gone on to publish her writing in a number of magazines and literary journals.)


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