Writing is very personal, often it is therapeutic, other times it’s all about fantasy. Whatever is behind the work it belongs to the writer. As a writer you have a choice and it is very much a choice, to share that with others.
Some might say that the only point in writing is to share it with others. I’m not so sure about that, it is quite a brave thing, especially in the early days, to share your innermost thoughts. I can imagine there are lots of writers out there who have never let anyone see their work.
So what are we all scared off? The critic it seems. There is probably a million blogs out there on the misery of critics. I’m here to put a word in for criticism although perhaps not the critics themselves. What my point is that writers need critics, harsh or otherwise.
Rule number one of sharing writing with others is knowing that not everyone will like your work. For every opinion you express there are millions of others who will have the opposite. Some might admire your work whilst not enjoying the content, but I would suggest that most people who dispute the content will find fault with the writing. So what does all this mean? Do we ignore critics?
You can’t ignore your critics. You may want to understand their motives and discard them selectively but to pretend they don’t exist will mean the end of a writing career. By testing the reaction to our work we can understand if our intentions are understood. I am often surprised and excited by the reaction to what I write not because I’m looking for confirmation of what I intended but because they often find something there I’d never intended. That’s frightening and joyful at the same time but it shows how interpretation is impossible to anticipate. That’s why writers should be wary of playing to an audience.
My advice is write what you want to write but learn from what people say. Don’t be defensive even when faced with harsh comments. Once you’ve written for a while you’ll begin to have a sense of what’s good and not good in your writing but digesting the reactions of others will help you improve that understanding of your output. Smile sweetly at your critic. Thank them for the time it took them to read your book and maybe your positive reaction might disabuse their negativity the next time.