The Neediness of a Writer
Criticism can be harsh, demoralizing, systematically deranging; tearing at the very fibers of sanity. It can also be that very push one would need to keep writing, and writing, and writing, until the criticism becomes a battering-ram of perpetual reminders that is just a part of the process. Writers deal with criticism, it’s the nature of the beast. Writers also learn from it, they know how to manipulate their words to meet the needs of a particular audience. It is innate of them to know that any critic just wants them to succeed, and through each failure a critic subjects a writer to, that writer is reminded that they have to revise and try again. That’s what writing is all about, an elaborate way for one’s voice to be heard. It’s cathartic and stressful, and at times egotistical; but once a person obtains that voice of a writer, it is good to know where that voice began.
And where did it begin? The very nature of that question rests in the basics.
The Writer’s Web
An exercise to practice that’s most likely taught in the elementary days of school is crafting a writer’s web. Have the main point in the center and branch off supporting points that give the article a backbone. Think of the scariest most disgusting spider and visualize that as the image of the main point. Doing this will not only spark creativity, but will also mentally prepare oneself to tolerate critics, in a sense that they have arachnophobia. After this is done, it will be easier to visualize the direction of the article’s content with no worry of it being criticized. Just stick to the point and supporting points just like that spider would to it’s web.
Baiting the Audience
Now that the web has been weaved, consider the type of audience that will be lured into the material. This is when the spider navigates the web and strategically places it’s “hot spots” for optimum capture. Such as the spider, the writer must deliver the content in this manner. Although keeping this in mind will grant for a better directed article, it will subject the writer to a peculiar stalemate with what to write. Opinions must be supported with facts or taken as footnotes along with the facts. The idea is to keep the content focused and not have it deviate from the main point. A solid method to writing is establishing the point and following it with an example to help the reader understand the point.
An example would be as follows:
Point: In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, there is a violent subversive determinism toward the right to kingship.
Example: Macbeth exercises this by believing the witches prophecy, and acting through his violent methods to obtain the reign; contrary to letting the prophecy fulfill itself.
There is a process to writing anything, and that process starts with a brainstorming exercise (such as the writer’s web). This practice ignites the ideas and correlations to those ideas that will become the final product. A cacophony of thoughts usually ensues, which brings that borderline between losing sanity and doubting why write in the first place; but sticking to the material and the knowledge of it will ultimately determine its success. To really convey these thoughts, a draft must be devised. This is where that crucial element, the hook, can be practiced and refined. By writing a draft, it will make it a lot easier to see where the article is heading and where the focus might deviate from the point. After revising, have someone read it and give feedback. Take into account that this is a type of criticism called “constructive criticism,” an editorial practice meant to recognize aspects of the writing that may have been overlooked. In any event that criticism is given, take it as constructive criticism and have it nurture the tolerance for that nonconstructive criticism.
It’s all in the Wrist
Writing style is something to consider as well. The approach to the piece may turn some people off, it could be in the manner that it was written or in the way that it was delivered. The saying “it’s not what you say, but how you say it” holds true in this regard. Lawyers make a killing in the court room with this approach, just watch Law and Order. Some styles are important to build off of, such as being clear and concise without the overuse of words. It is better to write it how one would say it, rather than cluster the sentence with unnecessary details; however, this falls back to the audience that is being addressed. In creative writing, style is relative to the writer and what he or she is trying to convey through their writing. In terms of news and media, it’s based on factual content. A suggested source for a new perspective on writing style is Performing Prose: the Study and Practice of Style in Composition by Chris Holcomb and M. Jimmie Killingsworth. This book gives insightful knowledge of different approaches to writing. It takes an in depth plunge into critically thinking about various styles and linguistic conventions, its applications and its relationship with the reader.
Now that the basics are covered and all the preparation to produce a solid piece of writing is completed, there is that daunting angst if anyone will actually find the finished produced worthy of a good read. At this point, there is nothing one can do besides wait until feedback is given. Writers are defined by this process. It cultivates their skill and makes them better writers. Here are some pointers to build a tolerance for criticism and use it as positive growth for writing.
Don’t Take It Personally
Critics usually come from a well-established background based on the subject matter in which the finished product is written about. They are criticizing either the content, or how the content is presented. This has nothing to do with the writer as a person. This type of criticism can appear to be directly insulting, but in actuality, they do not even know who the writer is, nor do they care to insult the writer. A professional critic typically cares only about the material that they know more about, and wants the writer to know that. As a writer, viewing criticism objectively is crucial.
Readers are Good
A writer wants people to read their work and critics are doing just that. Relish in this fact, even if they butcher the final piece. This is just one more step in making improvements to have the writing appeal better to the audience.
Improvement always begins with reviewing what went wrong and correcting those wrongs in the best way possible. This is best achieved by asking questions about the work, to analyze the mistakes. Asking questions also opens new perspectives and angles that may hold insight for a better written piece.
As long as the writing is grammatical and stays focused, the rest is up to the writer’s confidence. It’s confident enough to engage the field of pen and paper, so getting out there is half the battle. Stick with the basics and continue to improve based on feedback and intellectual study; and never quit. Criticism is meant to shape the writer’s voice. It is the public that they are ultimately writing for (besides themselves), listen to them and take it in stride.
What do you think? Leave a comment.