Sometimes You Need a Kick Up The Arse

How to use criticism to enhance your writing.

Last week one of my pieces was rejected from a publication, that I love. Unlike previously, I agreed with the editor. I needed a kick up the arse to up my game.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. I wrote about this, in a previous post.

This, however, is the first time I agreed with the reasons for rejection.

I had become lazy and complacent. I had taken for granted the hard work that is needed to produce a good piece of fiction. This had shown in my submission and the editors were right to reject it. It helped, that as always, they were super supportive about it.

For the first time in my writing, I let this criticism inspire me, rather than drag me down. I was determined to up my game and produce a submission I could stand by completely.

It also helps that I have become better with criticism. Over time writing helps you develop a thicker skin and a more rational mind.

Negative comments no longer make me want to troll the person until my anger is vented. I didn’t do it, but I did in my mind for days after.

I finished the first draft of a killer short story. I loved it and knew with a bit of polishing it would be amazing. I had a piece of writing I was proud of and one worthy of my readers time. One that the editors of the publication would see the potential in, I hoped.

This week that post was published. It was awarded editor’s choice. An accolade I had only achieved twice before in 18 months of writing. A reader who had previously criticised my work commented on how much she had enjoyed the story. She said it reminded her of a short story by Roald Dahl. The story she mentioned was my favourite short story. The compliment could not have been bigger.

It is hard to hear negativity about our work, however, use this as fire to produce better content.

In my teaching career, I give the students feedback on their work all the time. They use it to develop and reach their exam grade. Then why should we as writers be any different? If criticism is constructive we should use this to develop our writing. Rather than being upset that someone has passed comment on our work. We should thank them for the time they have taken to help us out.

I do save this advice for constructive criticism. Some trolls, have no intention to help and support, their comments are to pass on hate and upset the writer. For these critics, I would suggest a useful button called block. Don’t give them the attention they deserve by responding to them.

This attitude has mirrored itself in my work life as well. Recently a member of staff from another organisation put a complaint in about me. She was having a bad day and took what I said in a manner it wasn’t intended.

Either this or when my complaint on her conduct landed on her desk she decided to fight fire with fire.

Everyone knows you fight fire with water.

I previously would have taken these interactions inwardly. This time I brushed it off. For the first time in my 25 years of teaching, I didn’t get upset.

Writing has helped me develop a thick skin. Don’t be afraid to receive criticism. Ask for honest critics of your work. Then use this information and grow your talent.

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. — Norman Vincent Peale

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