Writing Life: Owning Your Writing

Never apologize.

Every great writer had to start somewhere.  Every brilliant mind had a beginning, and every block of stunning prose has met its share of criticism.  We, as writers, feel the need to defend every word, comma, and turn of phrase.  When someone comments on our writing, our use of “yes, but” can make us seem defensive.

Criticism is important.

Don’t underestimate a good bout of criticism; accepting and employing changes that improve our fiction also improves us as writers.  Its important, vital, even.

What I’m telling you, though, is that you should never apologize for your writing.  If someone doesn’t like it, and can’t give you a reason, you shouldn’t apologize for that.  Not everyone will love your work, and its something we all have to come to terms with.  Life goes on.

Also, never hand your work to someone and say “I’m sorry for the quality,” or “it’s not as polished as I want it to be.”  It sets people up to either expect it to be terrible or feed you useless compliments at the end to make you feel more confident.  Trust me, I’m guilty of doing this as well.  I’m trying to get out of the habit of apologizing for my work before it’s ever read, but it’s a bit hurdle for some of us.  Confidence in letting others read your work, especially people who are close to us, whose opinions mean the most to us, is something that develops over time.  And if it doesn’t, you really just need to rein in the apologies.  =P

Moral of the story?

Your writing is important.  It means something.  Don’t make out sound like less than it is just because you’re afraid someone won’t like it.  Accept criticism with grace, employ it where necessary, but don’t apologize for your writing!

Do you ever apologize for your writing?  What’s the hardest part of accepting the opinions of others?

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2 Comments

Filed under Writing, Writing Life

2 responses to “Writing Life: Owning Your Writing

  1. Writing means never having to say your sorry, eh? I can roll with that. Really though, accepting criticism with grace, but not wilting under it is tough. It’s much harder to absorb than it is to deflect or be bowled over by, isn’t it?

    • It IS much easier to let the criticism bowl you over, but it’s important to take the non-constructive bits with a grain of salt. You can’t please everyone. And while it is entirely within your power to say what stays, goes, and gets changed (before you send it to your editor, at least), it’s also important to consider changes that are suggested. Constructive criticism is one of the things that help us grow as writers. You take things from people who read (because, assuming you’re writing for readers, that’s who you’re trying to rope in, right?) because they’re the ones who will ultimately buy or don’t buy your work.

      It takes awhile to separate yourself from the emotional attachment of a story, but to improve, an open mind is absolutely vital.

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