Apprentice Wordsmith A Writer's Blog

What Critique to Ignore

I discovered the YouTube channel Psych2Go last year and have enjoyed several of their videos. One I keep circling back to is “7 Things You Should Never Apologize For.” The last time I watched it, I noticed how two of the things on their list were particularly relevant for writers:

  1. You should never apologize for your accomplishments.
  2. You should never apologize for doing something that makes you happy.

In the realm of creative writing, both of these things translate to creating a story that fulfills your artistic vision and is a piece you’re proud of.

Critiquers will always misinterpret what your vision is and what message your story is trying to convey. Their suggestions will steer your story toward their tastes and style, not yours. This isn’t inherently bad, nor is it even conscious on their part. It’s simply a consequence of the critiquing process. That does mean it’s on you to know what your vision is, what your message is, and how you want to say it.

If a bit of critique inspires you – revealing paths and possibilities you didn’t think of – then follow it. If, after some time away from the story, you start to see the problems that critiquers pointed out immediately, eat that humble pie and get to work improving it. But if a critique suggests something that runs counter to your vision or is irrelevant to your message, then you can safely ignore it. You can also safely ignore comments which demonstrate that the critiquer hasn’t read the entire piece. This is par for the course if you’re submitting chapters of a novel, though I find it harder to excuse for complete short stories.

All you owe each of your critiquers is to read their feedback and thank them for their time. From there, pick and choose what advice to keep and which to toss aside. Some of your critiquers may notice you didn’t listen to them and may still hate your story because of it. But if you create something you’re proud of that others enjoy reading, then that’s a win, regardless of how the nay-sayers might react.

What was some critique that you ignored? Why? Did you follow a piece of bad or ill-fitting writing advice? How did it affect you and your work? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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