elialshadowpine: (Default)
[personal profile] elialshadowpine
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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Date: 2013-08-06 06:20 pm (UTC)
inoru_no_hoshi: A Dreamwidth Dreamsheep with Tengwar (Elvish script) for its fleece. (Tengwar)
From: [personal profile] inoru_no_hoshi
Yep. I think this sort of attitude is why a depressing number of fanfic writers don't like the idea of concrit, because concrit=crit=only saying you and your work suck, which is not the point at all. And this is such a pervasive thing that unless an author actually puts "Concrit welcome!" in their notes somewhere, I don't feel comfortable offering any, because I don't know if they'll take it the wrong way - and the very last thing I want to do with concrit is leave someone with the impression that I hated their fic, it sucks, and they should stop writing.

Because, no. Usually it means I'm enjoying it enough that the jarring note is all the more jarring, and I'd like to point it out so maybe they can fix it - or at least acknowledge that it's a thing to keep in mind for further writing if it's actually plot-essential but jarringly wrong. (Like, I read this fic a couple days ago that is absolutely glorious and had me on tenterhooks and clutching at my blanket for comfort - and it's predicated on a thing that makes absolutely no sense and I can't decide if I should point it out or just accept it and move on.)

I, personally, welcome concrit, and it was a hard, hard thing to get from, "You didn't like [aspect/the whole thing]? WAHH YOU HATE ME I SUCK." to "You didn't like [aspect/the whole thing]? Can I fix [aspect]? Did I write the whole thing wrongheadedly? Did I do either on purpose? *puzzle out best response*" and just being kind of facepalmingly embarrassed over typos (because they always sneak through. ALWAYS).

I love praise, too, and the thing is... I am possibly more likely to consider concrit without a moment of "D: I suck" if there's also praise. Tell me what you don't like, by all means! But please also tell me what you did like.

(It is... not necessarily an easy mentality to gain. But it does make you more sanguine about your writing.)


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Aelin Elial Silverpine

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