How did they fit all that awesome in you?
Praise. We love it and, when well earned, nothing can feel quite so good…
…And for many it feels just as good when it has not been earned. And nothing can be quite so dangerous to a writer. – Praise can be a sea of morasses for a writer to wallow in, with no incentive to improve. An addiction. We become so conditioned to receiving it that criticism becomes anathema, and those offering the criticism will often be lambasted by the sycophants we’ve surrounded ourselves with, reinforcing our delusions. If you feel uncomfortable right now, you’ve even more reason to read on. If you’ve never received harsh criticism, I beg you to read on…
Those holding us back from becoming a successful author are often the ones closest to us. Lovers and spouses, best friends and parents. You need to cut them adrift before they run out of superlatives. – Seek out those who would growl and snarl at you – the ones who will pour red ink on your manuscript and say ‘not good enough but if you were to…‘
We learn from our mistakes. It’s a well-worn cliché, but nothing suits better. – Critiques drive us to better prose, raising the bar and pushing us towards success. You need toxic well-armed beta readers who will be honest with you. – Don’t know how to find them? – Blog an opening chapter, and post a link on Twitter. – Ask for criticism. Ask for honesty.
And brace yourself. Discovering you’re not as good as your sycophants would have you believe is harsh, but the most important step to success. Acceptance you can get better is a cathartic moment for many writers. – It takes damned years of improving before the majority of us can write something that doesn’t boil the eyeballs – and I don’t mean just writing, I mean years of getting better after the years of ‘just writing’.
Yeh, there are the amazingly gifted who just churn our awesome prose from the outset, and we’d all believe we’re that person. I thought I was once… I’m not, but I’m getting better.
So post your words, and ask your followers on Twitter to ask how it could be made better. – Ignore those who tell you it’s perfect. – They are the ones who stand between you and writing great prose.