Being a writer takes thick skin.


Today is Monday which means a post about writing. I learned a lot about this topic really fast. A writer has to take their punches to learn when and how to dodge them. Writing is an art form and like every art form the artist has to learn how to handle criticism.

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There is no mistaking the dismay on the face of a writer who has just heard that his brain child is a deformed idiot.- L. Sprague de Camp

Being a writer takes thick skin.

When I began writing to get published I put my writing out to be critiqued and discovered I wasn’t as good as I believed. I thought I was gifted after only fifty thousand words, which is not much considering how many words Stephen King has written.

Stephen King suffered through rejection after rejection until Carrie was picked up. He talks about his stack of rejections in his book On Writing. Every writer has had to get through their beliefs that they are awesome writers, even Stephen King. But they all kept chasing.

One of my favorite quotes is by Ernest Hemingway: It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.

This quote says it all. Hemingway is one of the best American writers. His books have sold millions of copies but one of his critics–his father–wanted him to go to college. Ernest wanted to learn to write.

There are times in our lives when we must ignore our critics, no matter who they are. Whether they are our parents, siblings, teachers or friends. The only person that truly knows us is our self.

Critics are always there. They are either critiquing something we wrote, painted or said. What an artist must do is listen to them, don’t chastise them for telling you your writing sucks. In all honesty they may be right.

A new writer is like a penny you pick out of the gutter, to make it shine you have to polish the front, back and make sure all the words are legible.

Knowing that your writing needs work is the first step.

There are many places to get your work critiqued. But you must get it critiqued, and your family, friends or significant other is not who you should trust with your critique. Everyone I mentioned wants to make you happy, and they will tell you what you want to hear.

Find a website–there are many–that have people willing to critique your work. Unless those I already mentioned are in the publishing industry in one form or another, they have a degree in a writing field or you totally believe they will be honest don’t trust them with your writing.

Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.- Franklin Jones

Take every bit of criticism you can stand and with that criticism take your novel, short story or what have you and make it better. Every writer thinks they are horrible at some time.

Criticism is hard to take, no matter who it may come from. Life is full of critics of who you are, who you want to be, what you care about, your religion, your political views and everywhere in between. Your job is to know who to listen to and who to either ignore or step away from.

Along the road to being published every one of us will have people tell us our writing sucks. It is those that push through the criticism that make it. If you cannot push through the critics and ignore them you are better off stopping!

Bri

Here is a list of sites that you may find people to critique your writing. Some of these sites have rules to being critiqued. Follow their rules, breaking them makes you look bad as a newbie writer. It also makes you look inexperienced. Take their critiques and build something better with your project.

Here is the list:

Writers.net – This is the first place I posted my writing. They are brutally honest here. If you can’t take the ego hits don’t post here.

Absolute Write – This site is categorized by genre there is a newbie section for those uninitiated. Read it twice. There are a lot of good people here. There are rules to being critiqued on this site. Learn the rules before posting.

Fantasy-Faction Forums – This is a site I found only a six months ago and has a lot of good people on it. It is geared towards Fantasy and Science Fiction and there are a lot of posts about writing in those genres as well as interviews with genre writers and guides for the genre.

Here is another one from one of the comments on this post.

Critique Circle – I am new to this site as it was suggested in one of the comments. Thought I would add it to the list.

I hope you like the list. I am sure there are more that I don’t know about but these are ones that I have used or still use for critiques.

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11 Responses to Being a writer takes thick skin.

  1. Rejection is like a rite of passage for writers. We all need the reality check that we aren’t as brilliant as we thought. Once the ego gets out of the way, then the hard work of revision can begin. There is no such thing as a final draft . . . every writer should believe their work can be better than it is.

    I love the links you’ve provided. 🙂 Another one I’ve found very helpful is http://www.critiquecircle.com/default.asp

    • BB_Baker says:

      I completely agree. If it weren’t for rejection none of us would try to get better. Even when sending things out after five revisions it never feels done. Thanks for the link and the comments.

  2. SandySays1 says:

    Fur over the thick skin helps! So true.

  3. taiorafan21 says:

    I’m not a published writer but I do love to write and I have to tell myself quite often that if I want to call myself a writer of any kind, I’ve got to learn to accept that some people will just flat out hate my work and suck it up.

    • BB_Baker says:

      It’s true some people will just not like your work. I had a lot of problems with this. The hardest part is taking the feedback from those that do like it and doing something positive with it. Thanks for your comments.

  4. True, we really do need thick skin. I am just recovering from my first novel critique. I think I had it a bit easy though because the harshest critiques were coming from the people furthest from my target audience (not many guys get what it was like to be a teenage girl). I will listen to what they all said though.
    The most important thing seems to be to pay attention to the criticisms you hear over and over again. If only one person criticizes something, you can call them an outlier, but if the group all agrees you have a problem, there is work to be done.
    Great post.

    • BB_Baker says:

      Thanks for your comments. First novel critiques can be rough. It sounds like you came through it well though. Hearing the same things over and over is hard to take. But you’re right, if only one person criticizes something it is usually that person being picky, but if a group says something then there are things to fix. Thanks again for comments!

  5. Pingback: Finding a Critique Group | Purgatory (aka editing)

  6. Pingback: Finding a Critique Group | That's what Liz wrote

  7. T.F.Walsh says:

    Love that Ernest Hemingway quote… A fellow campaigner from the urban fantasy group saying hi and can’t wait to jump into your blog:)

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