How to Grow a Thicker Skin

Criticism hurts, particularly if it’s something you’ve poured your soul into – like writing. So how do you minimise the hurt? How do you roll with the punches that are going to come?

Well…in some ways, you don’t. Every piece of writing is something you – I’d hope, at least – have tried your hardest on. It’s a reflection of you, and it’s probably always going to hurt when someone tells you to rewrite, redo, it’s got flaws, just no…but that’s part of the process. If you kept writing the same, perfect, thing, then…well, it’d be pretty boring.

So how do you learn to appreciate criticism, rather than get crippled by it?

  • Write more. Seriously! See every piece as a learning piece, not something that’s perfect. If someone doesn’t like it, ok. That’s fine. They’ll like the next piece – so go write it.
  • Let it hurt, and then keep going. Wallow with ice cream for an evening, then sleep on it and attack it again the next day. It really does help to let yourself be upset – as long as you don’t let that carry on.
  • Appreciate the flaws. You have to make mistakes – and then fix them – to learn.
  • Argue back. If you’ve got a good reason for wanting something in there, keep it in! If you like your writing style, leave it as it is! The writer-critique process is a dialogue. Your editor should NOT be simply telling you what to change.
  • Send it to several people, and see where their views coincide; OR, as you find an alpha or beta that you really trust. Not everyone likes everything, and that’s great! But if two or more people are telling you the same thing, maybe you should be listening.

It’ll always hurt; at least, I think it does if you’re writing good stuff. But with time, and practise, you can turn the punches into pinpricks, and appreciate criticism for what it is – critique that you can learn from, or criticism that doesn’t matter.