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How to Handle Criticism

criticism1I remember in the beginning of my career when someone criticized my writing, I used to feel very bad. But with time, I realized that if I’m going to be a writer, I’ll have to learn to deal with this inevitable part of my chosen field. I knew that there will always be people criticizing my writing, and if I’m going to let that criticism get me, I’ll never be able to achieve anything. 

 

Here’s what I learnt about handling criticism:

1. Look at the source. Who is it that is criticizing you? Most of the time, it’s just those self-appointed experts who feel it their duty to find faults in others. These are the people who either criticize you to compensate for their own shortcomings, or to pull you down somehow so they can feel superior. If it is one of these “experts”, then just don’t let their words affect you. Ignore them and move on. If the criticism is coming from someone who truly is an expert and sincerely wants to help you improve, then value that criticism. Take it as a lesson and an opportunity to improve your writing. There is always scope for improvement.

2. Look at the criticism. Is the criticism destructive or constructive? If it’s just to destroy your writing, pretend you didn’t even notice and move on. If it’s constructive, one that also includes specific examples of where the piece needs improvement and suggestions on where you need to work more, then take that criticism seriously. Look at the points that have been brought to your attention and improve them. This is the kind of criticism that makes you a better writer.

3. Keep moving. Sometimes the criticism can be so bad, or the critics have been so harsh and insensitive with the use of their words, that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to ignore them. This is only natural; after all, you’re a human. As long as it doesn’t stop you from writing, it’s fine. The trick here is to keep yourself calm and look at the criticism closely. Are there any valid points here? If yes, take them as a source of self-improvement. If no, don’t let it drain you. It’s not even worth a second thought. But do keep moving. Keep writing. Nothing should stop you from writing.

So, the golden rule is – if the criticism is destructive or general, ignore it; if it’s constructive with specific examples and suggestions on improvement, embrace it and use it to take you a level higher.

 

How do you deal with criticism? I’d love to hear from you all.

 

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Critique versus Criticism

A writer friend recently told me about the time he had given his collection of essays to a writer of repute for a critique, but what he got back instead was a criticism. Not that he dislikes criticism. All writers take criticism positively – after all, it’s a sign of being recognized as a writer. The point here is of a critique and a criticism.  Not many people recognize the difference between the two, or see the fine line that divides the two – not even some great writers, as was the case with my friend.

So, what exactly is the difference between the two?

Criticism, when applied to literature, is an informed evaluation or analysis of a piece of writing. It gives opinions and comments in a friendly manner. Although these comments may either be positive or negative, they are generally negative.

A critique is also an informed evaluation or analysis, and also gives opinions and comments, but with one fundamental difference. It is more objective in its approach than a criticism is. It critically examines the piece of writing, and gives arguments on its quality with reference to expectations and conventions of the genre. Rather than just finding faults like a criticism usually tends to do, a critique suggests changes without interfering with the style of the writer.

Like someone rightly described – “Critique is the fine art of criticism”.

 

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