Here’s how to deal with criticism of your writing….

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a TED talk about how do deal with criticism of your writing…

Writers are orchids, not daisies. They need special care an attention and many of them are sensitive to criticism.

I was lucky enough to learn to grown up in the newspaper business, where the first rule I learned was DON’T be sensitive to criticism. To this day, I feel no angst or remorse when someone wants to change my copy — particularly if they have paid me to write. It’s their copy, I figure. They need to be happy.

And when I receive criticism for writing I’ve done for myself (i.e.: my books), I’m comfortable ignoring it (if I believe it’s misguided) without feeling either bad or inept.

If you haven’t yet internalized this comfort with criticism, a recent TED talk by business owner Frederik Imbo provides some useful advice. Although his talk isn’t specifically about writing, he offers some wise advice for everyone.

If you don’t have time to watch the entire 18-minute speech, here are the two highlights:

#1: The criticism is not about you

Remind yourself the criticism is one reader’s response. In other words, it’s about them. It represents one person’s reaction to what you’ve written and you need to shift the focus from “me” to “we”, so you don’t take their comments too personally. If you try to see the intention of the reader — trying to help you become a better writer — you’ll make space for understanding rather than irritation.

#2: Give yourself some empathy

It’s hard to hear complaints about your writing. Instead of shutting down and refusing to listen, open up and be vulnerable. Explain what you were trying to accomplish without blaming the reader. This should lead to a conversation that will help you make your writing even stronger

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