Dealing with criticism

One of my favorite bloggers on writing and the publishing industry, literary agent Nathan Bransford, recently made an excellent post about dealing with criticism. Excellent reading for any and all aspiring writers.

Confronting a critique or criticism need not be a gut-wrenching trial. It can, and should, be a valuable learning experience.

One of the first and most difficult hurdles on the road to publication is learning to cope with criticism. Yet you must. No matter how good you think you are, criticism is inevitable. It is also vital to your growth as a writer. The ability to solicit critiques knowing they will poke holes in your work, and to then listen to said critiques objectively and with an open mind, is one of the things that separates writers from people who want to write.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you want to write for publication, don’t wait for perfection. Put your work in front of people, and do it now. You’ll be a better writer for it.


  1. Stanley Lieber

    I definitely agree about putting things in front of people. Failure is by far the best teacher.

  2. admin

    Quite true about failure. Few things teach you how to do something well better than doing that something *badly* a few times.

    Writing is such a solitary pursuit, it's easy to labor in obscurity and not KNOW that you're failing in your craft. That's why I think putting your work in front of people and being willing to listen is so essential.

  3. Stanley Lieber

    On the other hand, be discriminating in who you listen to. Know what you're looking for in a critique. Consider: the horrible books that get published to rave reviews. Sometimes professionals can destroy a promising manuscript. (I say this as someone who hasn't even found a trusted proofreader.)

  4. admin

    Sure. You've got to be discerning. I probably should have touched on the idea that there are two aspects of dealing with criticism: Being able to objectively listen to critiques (hopefully from a trusted source), and being able to cope with the idea that some people just aren't going to like your work. Listening to a critique from a lousy source and paying attention to blind, pointless criticism can be equally damaging.

    Back to discerning for a moment. Finding a trusted reader is HARD. I don't know that I have a single go-to person yet.

    What other people fall for is uncritically believing praise from family and friends. "You're so great!" That stuff is nice to hear, but ultimately it's good for only one thing. Your ego.

    Maybe I should do a "dealing with praise" post. 🙂

  5. Stanley Lieber

    'dealing with praise'

    Great idea!

    (see what i did there)


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