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[me] May 2014
So, there's a particular article about what differentiates a hobbyist from a pro writer, that is full of BS that has been talked about by various people like Brian Keene and John Scalzi.

One thing, though, I haven't seen addressed is this:

"4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise?"

Okay, I really fucking loathe this dichotomy. I have seen it a lot in crit and writing groups. This idea that either you take criticism like a masochist, or you are an idiot who wants people to pander with praise, is fucking stupid.

It's not a one or the other deal. You can want useful criticism for the things that you did wrong, or that you almost got right, or that could be better if you did this... and still want to be praised for the things you did well. There is an attitude in writer's groups that I find fucking harmful, which is that if you're a true pro, then you shouldn't care about praise.

It's fucking human to want praise. It's normal, and healthy, and for gods' sakes, I have seen so many crit groups where a badge of honor is taking sometimes downright abusive shit about your work, and not complaining. It's a toxic attitude. It's important for writers to hear both criticism and praise -- but too often, writers are told that if they even want praise, they obviously aren't serious.

Not to mention that praise is also an important part of a crit, because it helps you figure out what you're doing right. If all you have is a crit full of complaints, well, you can still work on improving, but it doesn't give you a very clear idea of your strengths.

You can want both. You should have both. And I am really annoyed at this all-or-nothing, one-or-the-other thinking. The world doesn't work that way.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
the_physicist
Aug. 6th, 2013 12:02 pm (UTC)
+1 to this.

it depends on where i am mentally if i want constructive criticism or not and who i want it from and what i want it on.

with the star trek film out i got a lot of new readers for my old fic and some of them thought i should know my grammar isn't perfect etc. Like i don't know that. um. but still, that's not too bad, because it's just mildly irritating to me when i get told my grammar sucks.

one reason i gave up completely on art in the past (and I was quite good, but now i'm not as i don't practice at all for years) is because of the criticism and constructive criticsm. it also heaps expectations on you to be perfect.

and that's why i liked writing and turned to writing instead. because i had no expectations to do well at that. i was happily learning how to be a better writer in my own way and with the help of my beta as well as my reviewers. but then there came a certain point where i then had expectations to write well and that killed all fun in writing, just as it had done in art. and from then on i really didn't want any readers giving me any sort of crit. although i wanted it early on.

as i dont get much i'm not going to put up a :concrit not appreciated post, because that'll attract more crit and grief that it's worth, i'm sure. but such things should be appreciated.

and so should a writer asking for concrit to be given in a positive way or not at all, or similar. writing, even as a pro, i'm sure, won't happen if you have writers block due to people being nasty about your work.

i half think this attitude is perpetuated so that it enables the assholes to keep on tearing people's work down because they don't like in the style of some famous literary author in order to try and big themselves up, because they just need to do that to hide the insecurity they have over their own writing. or simply because they are assholes.
soundofherwings
Aug. 6th, 2013 12:40 pm (UTC)
I fully agree. Two semesters ago I took a creative nonfiction class and wrote an immersion essay on tabletop gaming. I got nothing but criticism from my peers aside from one compliment about one sentence in the piece. I actually went to the instructor in tears during his office hours wondering if the piece was really that bad because next to nothing good was said about it.

Up till then I was used to balanced critiques. Even from very critical peers I had received compliments on a few strengths for my poetry and my fiction. Though for our personal essays for the CNF class I did receive more remarks on strengths. It may have had to do with them learning more about giving good critique.
aschalady
Aug. 6th, 2013 04:22 pm (UTC)
Wow. All of those are complete bullshit to be honest. Being a writer, even being a professional writer, does not mean that you give up everything including friends and family and a clean home to write. That is silly. Life inspires writing. I think you need to live something of a life outside your head to come up with fuel for the writing. What she is describing is not the tenets of a professional writer. It sounds like obsession to me.

And, for the record, writers write for the praise. For the idea of bringing joy to another, whether through escapism or thinking deeply or whatever. As you said, praise and critique are not mutually exclusive. Also, my house is usually spotless. Why? Because I have OCD and NOT having a clean house destroys my focus and creativity. Then again, I also make time for my children, my friends, and I even spend time out of the house hanging out with friends. Guess I will never be a "pro" but, if her standards are what we are being judged by, then I would rather just stay a hobbyist.

Edited at 2013-08-06 04:26 pm (UTC)
mistri
Sep. 15th, 2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
Completely agree, sorry for very late reply. I haven't been on LJ in an age and am thinking of tipping a toe back in.

But yes, there's this whole strange competitiveness among writers of 'I can take the most vicious critique,' 'no I can, I can!'. It's really strange. There is a way to nicely phrase suggestions/criticism and wanting ones like this (or writing them) doesn't make you weak - it is simply a lot more encouraging if you feel like you are getting stuff right as well as wrong along the way.
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