1. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I Can't Stand Being Critiqued--

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Atari, Feb 14, 2009.

    There is a thread here similar to this, already, but it does not refer to the absolutely raw EMOTION I have when someone reviews something I write.

    I'll be honest: I can't take criticism. I thought that once I admitted it, once I accepted it, that I could make it better.
    But it's not a conscious, deliberate action.
    When someone points out something in my writing that is wrong, I get defensive, and I am filled with dismay.

    In an attempt to dull my emotion to criticism, I wrote something that I was not attached to. It was a spontaneous idea and meant nothing to me.
    I send it to this girl I saw, and she corrected me.
    It was all grammatical mistakes, some of them that I should have seen, myself.

    And every time I saw a red mark on the screen, EVERY mistake she marked, EVERY WORD SHE SAID worked to kindle a remorseful rage within my chest.
    I felt my jaw tighten, my eyes stared forward with blurred vision, seeing into nothing; my thoughts were empty, but the fury welling inside of me was real.

    I could, AS I read the critique, observe my own anger increasing.

    WHY!? Why do I take it so PERSONALLY? How can I detach myself from this?
    She was a NICE girl, simply stating the problems, and she told me afterward that she enjoyed it; that it was descriptive and interesting and well written.

    So why? Why was I so filled with dismay and regret and fury at my own foibles?

    *Explodes*
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's difficult, but necessary, to set aside your ego whenb you read a critique. Assume tat every negative remark has SOME element of truth to it tat you can learn from, and challenge yourself to find it.

    After all, apart from critiques posted merely to meet a quota (usually obvious), te reviewer is trying to help you make your writing better.
     
  3. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Yes, I understand.
    Part of the problem, though; is that I know the person is RIGHT. I'm not mad that they have done me wrong, but they have found fault with me. And they are correct.
    I mean. . . do I have a bigger ego than I thought? Is it possible that I am actually a HUGELY conceited, arrogant prick, and I don't know it?
     
  4. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    Best bet Atari is to remember that any critique given is an opinion and as such, an opinion cannot be right or wrong if it is given truthfully, as an opinion is never fact. I.e the person isn't saying what they really think for whatever reason.

    And actually, if you're mad at yourself, does it not encourage you to better your writing? Key thing is to try and prevent that from being shown in any replies given to others and not make critiquers think you're angry at them (which can be hard considering the nature of the net).

    Or yeah, you can just not post anything. But I don't think that helps achieve anything. Nobody is perfect and we all learn by doing, while receiving feedback.

    But I will say one thing Atari. Writing isn't easy and there will always be detractors of your writing no matter how good it is, so if you want to make it in the business (if you're serious about forging a career in writing), then you need to be able to take criticism. Even the best authors like Dickens and others, alongside today's best sellers get criticised.

    Other than the things mentioned, if you do not seek a career with writing, then might I suggest sharing your work but not asking for critiques? If you only want to share your work and write for your own enjoyment, then having people give critical or praising feedback isn't as necessary.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Remember that finding faults in the writing is not finding fault with the writer.
     
  6. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Thanks, David, for the words of encouragement.
    Actually, it's less like anger and more like dismay. I'm not mad with myself, necessarily, as much as I am disappointed, and frustrated. Anxious, even! All kinds of emotions bundled into one.
    Frustration, doubt, resignation. I know for a FACT that I can do better, I don't have to strive, (and I'm referring to those times when they point out some minuscule, trivial mistake) yet it STILL makes me enter into a state of emotional turmoil.

    I'm an oddball, though, so if no one can figure me out, it's alright.

    I do hope to have a writing career, but at the same time, it feels like a fanciful, faraway dream.
    I can't see myself actually becoming a writer. Hah! That's laughable. Wanting it won't make it happen. It takes the willingness to do hard work and dedication, two things I lack.
    Still, it would be nice, pipe-dream notwithstanding.



    Edit: Cogito, you may have said the one thing that may fix everything, for me. I am not my writing. I had not thought of it, like that.
    Hmm. . . .
     
  7. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    Actually, there is one more point I want to make:

    You can't and shouldn't try to please everyone. Maybe write for yourself first and fore-most (think that's how you spell it). Take what you need and don't take the parts you don't need.

    Edit: To a certain degree, I can relate to how you feel.
     
  8. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very simply, it's due to cognitive distortion. Google that term. You'll see what I mean.
     
  9. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Maybe it isn't the critique you are upset at.
    Maybe it's disappointment in yourself.
    Every mistake, I should have seen that, how did that person see that?
    Every red mark, Why did I mess up this bad?
    Maybe it isn't the critique maybe it's disappointment in you self.
     
  10. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    This FEELS like it hits the nail on the head; unfortunately, I see no way of ridding myself of this malady.
     
  11. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Atari,

    The bottom line is that until you are able to accept criticism with respect to your writing, you will struggle to succeed as a writer. Some of that may vary with your goals.

    Nevertheless, it will slow your growth and skill in the area of writing. It will make you impossible for an editor or an agent to work with.

    People can give suggestions, but in the end it is you that will have to get over it, will have to change, and truly want to change--and work at it.

    Good luck, as I suspect there will be more than a few frustrating points along the way.

    Terry
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cognitive behavioural therapy and "thinking happy thoughts".
     
  13. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Atari,

    I don't think you are arrogant. I think you're a perfectionist. Somehow you've come to expect perfection from yourself, so when the writing isn't perfect you feel this overwhelming dismay.

    I can relate in a limited way. I'm a terrible perfectionist myself, but I also know that my writing will never be perfect. Every time I finish a chapter segment and look over it, I can't help but feel that it's never good enough. When it comes back to me here, covered in red, that's just another nail in the coffin:(. Every time I see these flaws, I too, am filled with dismay.

    I've read so many great books in my life... Everyone who knows me IRL tells me I'm a great writer. But I know it's not true... yet. I can't help but feel that it should be great. I have all of the knowledge in my head to write a best seller. So why the hell can't I just WRITE one?? Why doesn't it ever come out right? Because writing is complicated. It will take years to produce the work that I expect from myself. And every criticism I receive along the way fills me with equal parts joy and dismay.

    Seeing red all over your work tells you that you've got a long row to hoe... and that just sucks. But at the same it shows you the way to improve, which is awesome.Every useful critique, every time you know they're right, take it as one step forward to perfection. Your writing will never be perfect, though. As a perfectionist myself, I find it hard to swallow... But I take pleasure in progress. The joy I feel, knowing that I'm getting better by the day as I participate here, overpowers those negative feelings.

    Writing is bitter sweet. It's only a major problem when you can't appreciate the sweet. So take a deep breath:p when you see those red notes, and think of how much better your writing will be when you take them to heart.
     
  14. Mcarpenter
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    Mcarpenter Contributing Member

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    Laughter is the best medicine. Try to have a sense of humor about it. That's what I do. :D

    Oooh, in your original post, you spelled "personally" wrong. :p LOL, I'm kidding. It's spelled right. :)

    When I was running a graphic arts business, I once had a client who was so tactless. He would constanly say things like "The S looks like an intestine" or "the T looks like a goat's head and the E looks like some sort of hideous carnivorous animal about to eat". Laughing about it was the only way I got through it.

    Here's a link to my favorite place to get jokes, that will hopefully put you in a better, brighter mood.
    http://www.rd.com/clean-jokes-and-laughs
     
  15. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, poor Atari...:( I have the same problem. It's why I rarely if ever post prose online. I just get so upset:mad: at all the things I did wrong. I've never gotten cognitive therapy. I don't think it's that serious. Instead, I post much shorter projects (though not anyless difficult), like poems. After the eighty-sixth time I got upset over "negative" feedback, I began to have an easier time of it. So my suggestion is to just keep posting/sending out work to be reviewed or critiqued. I think that, eventually, you'll get over this on your own.
     
  16. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    When i see the "red" of criticism and fixing up of, i never think of what i did as "wrong" just an area that i can agprove on.

    Unless you actually go to a die-hard professional, is it really wrong? (IF its SPAG, i wouldnt worry, you can easily fix that, and learn)
     
  17. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    In response to the second quote, I was joking mainly. Your attitude is a very good one.
     
  18. Dalouise
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    Dalouise Contributing Member

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    I can also relate to that. I had a childhood with a perfectionist father for whom nothing was ever good enough and first prizes were expected. Some of it rubbed off on me and a lack of self-confidence stopped me from even attempting a number of things that I now wish I had done. I now compete in a (gentle) sport which is highly subjective in terms of the results as it is the judge's opinion on the day. Every time I walk into the ring, I am setting myself up for failure and public humiliation, at least that it how it can feel. After fifteen years of it, I am mellowing although some success has made me feel more "part of the gang".

    I am hoping that the same will apply to writing and at least online reviews are less public. I still feel the need for a small success to make me view the red ink in a more positive light, though. Then I think of some top sportsmen and women who still train all the time under the supervision of a professional, despite world and olympic medals.

    As someone once said to me, "to increase your success rate, you need to first increase your failure rate." I mulled over that phrase for weeks before the penny dropped. ;)
     
  19. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    If you ever want to be a good writer you have to be ego-less when it comes to your writing. You have to decide what's important. Is it important for you to learn and become a good writer, or are you using writing for ego rewards? If the latter, find something else to do that will draw more attention to yourself in a positive way since that's what you want.
    When you feel negatively about what someone has said about your writing or while critiquing it might help to sit down and write for yourself what really bothers you about what they said. Don't ignore that it does, just try to realize that it doesn't really matter. Immediately after that begin writing again. Do not let it stop you.
     
  20. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    The main thing is: how do you feel when reviewing yourself?

    I know many people who say that a writer who hates criticism is wasting his time writing; but honestly, I think critique is something you can learn to take.
     
  21. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's defintely possible. You just need to keep at it.
     
  22. diabolic321
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    diabolic321 New Member

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    I'm not knowledgeable at this, but I've found that the story I wrote was much better after receiving some critique and correcting the errors when compared to the work before giving it up to the wolves... :) If you get too defensive when others review your work, you could try to put the work down for a month or so, let the ideas settle down, the enthusiasm cool down. Maybe then you won't be so defensive of your own work? In my opinion, one thing is certain - you won't get better if nobody reviews your work. The reviews must be harsh, intelligent, reasonable. The reviewer shouldn't beat around the bush or try to save your feelings. Family members will probably be useless for this :) Oh, well, doesn't matter in my case because my family don't know English anyway :)
     
  23. crashbang
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    crashbang Active Member

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    I'm a bit like you. Im constantly in doubt weather I can really become a successful writer, especially at 18 when I've only really recently started to write and learn. But having peoples opinion is vital. You are writing, essentially, for other people, therefore, you have to learn to take criticism. I look over stuff I have done in years past and cringe- nowadays, its a bit better, but only because I learnt from other people various methods to improve.

    Don't shy away from criticism if you hate it, because that wont help. Look for the hatchet man, the one who will point out things he doesnt like and generally, rip your work to bits. Of course you dont have to rip it to bits yourself, but some of what he/she says will be true once you think about it, and it will improve your writing.

    So my advice is: look for the hatchet man. look for criticism.

    Hell, its why Im on this site.
     
  24. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    First, thank you for the kind and helpful and empathetic responses! It really does give me something to think about, but it also makes me wonder if some of you know exactly what is going on in my head. (Even I don't, usually)

    Someone asked, "How do you feel when you review your own work?"

    Well, the problem with that is-- I generally write until I'm satisfied, you see, and once I'm satisfied, it seems that others should be, as well. Then when they mark my wrongs, I explode and want to throw my laptop across the room in frustration.

    I hope that, should I post anything her for review, I will receive kind reviews, as that is the only solace for me during these trying times.

    But, yeah, I'll see what I can do.
     
  25. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    But consider, you do not know everything. (neither do others, of course, but...) So what satisfies you is not necessarily going to satisfy someone more "knowledgable". I totally understand what you are saying. I used to have exactly that same issue--and sometimes I still do. It's something you have to learn to get past. And you will.


    And kind reviews do help.
     

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