I realized this week that there is one massive benefit to having your work critiqued. Beyond finding mistakes, it gives you a tougher skin.
I am a member of several different writing sites, where I can post various forms of writing and get feedback. Usually when I post, my frame of mind is: alright, now wait for the compliments to role in. I know, I know, pretty conceded, but i can’t help it. I love what I write, and I expect everyone else to love it, too.
However, experience has taught me that there will always be at least one “real” mistake, and several subjective ones. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve rolled my eyes at someone’s suggestion or thrown up my arms (figuratively) in exasperation. It hurts when people say, “What you’ve just spent the last three years on doesn’t make any sense.” Or “you’ll never sell that”. But if we’re being truthful, even if you land an agent, sell to a publisher and end up a bestseller, there will always be critics. You can’t please everyone.
That’s what I tell myself while I read through suggestions. If it’s about grammar, I usually take the advice, all other suggestions must be taken with a heaping pile of salt. On one of the sites I use, there’s a particular person or two whose advice usually isn’t helpful. It fits their mold for what sci-fi is and what should be included, not what I’m aiming for. That being said, I always try to consider their advice. I’m not so conceded as to think I’m above improvement, in fact, self improvement is what I’m all about. Static writing practices will get you nowhere.
That’s where the thick skin comes in. If someone’s willing to read your work and comment on it, it means they care. That’s always something to remember, because if they didn’t, they’d be doing something else. So even when someone’s criticism is a little harsh, be thankful, because if they’re right, they caught something you didn’t.
A few good sites for writers: