How to Handle Criticism of Your Writing

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If you are a writer, you will know that it already takes a brave individual to share themselves in such a vulnerable way. Writing is very personal, and so when a writer’s work is criticised, it feels very personal. Unfortunately, the world is not always that kind. So, here are some tips to help you deal with criticism as a writer:

It’s not personal

As I said above, when someone criticises your writing, it might feel like a personal attack, but it is not. At the end of the day, you need to keep in mind that it is not about you, but rather about the piece of work that you have produced.

Perhaps they don’t fully understand or appreciate what you are saying. Maybe they hold a different opinion, or would have gone about it in a different way. Whatever it is, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, so try not to take it to heart.

If you are feeling brave, engage in a discussion about what it was they didn’t like. Get some in depth feedback, then you can choose what to take on board and what to ignore. And if all else fails, pretend it never happened and move on.

Grow from it

Nobody likes to be criticised because it makes us feel inadequate. The thing is, none of us are perfect, and even the best writers have flaws. Criticism is part of life, and it is better to deal with it early on.

If you feel that the criticism you received is unfair, you can always take on your critic. Try to explain what you meant and where you were coming from. Bear in mind that this isn’t always productive. Sometimes it’s better to just ignore it and move on.

The way we handle other peoples’ negative opinions is going to determine if we grow or stagnate. Perhaps the criticism is an opportunity to improve and get better at your art. There is nothing wrong with getting help if you need it, whether online or asking a friend. All you are doing is improving your writing skills, and no one can criticise you for that.

More than one writing project

As a writer, you probably have more than one project going on at the same time. So if one seems not to be going to plan, put it on the shelf for a while and work on something else.

I am not saying that you should give up on any of your projects, but sometimes it is just one piece of writing that might need more work, and if it’s not going well it might start to get you down. So take a break and do something else you enjoy.

You are not defined by one manuscript or article. You want to make sure that you don’t pour all your energy into one project and let that define you. There is more to you and a lot more that can be done. So even if one of your projects fail, at least you know that you are already working on something else. Keep the faith.

Go with your gut

Sometimes people with no knowledge of writing want to give you their opinions. There comes a time where you have to start believing in your abilities and take these comments with a grain of salt.

Not every negative opinion is correct, and you might just have to leave things as they are. Be careful who you listen to. I would much rather take criticism from people in the industry, than from someone with no writing experience.

That said, even if your editor tells you that your writing is not up to scratch, you need to be willing to fight for what you believe in. There is nothing wrong with you trusting your work above the opinions of others. In fact, that shows that you are evolving and trusting in your skills.

If the criticism is constructive and you agree, go with it. If not, get more information and stick to what your gut is telling you.

Acceptance

There are moments when the criticism you receive is valid, and you just need to accept it. After accepting that you are a human being that makes mistakes, you then need to move on.

This moment does not define who you are or what type of writer you are. As long as you are growing through the process, it is all worth it. Allow yourself to make mistakes and do not beat yourself up about it.

Many writers struggle to get their work published, but they did not let one ‘no’ stop them from pursuing their goals. And every writer gets the odd bad review. You are going to have to grow a tough skin and understand that this is part of the job.

It doesn’t mean that you are a bad writer, but rather that you are still learning and growing. If the critic is correct in what they have to say, or if they have a different opinion, you should just accept it and move right on.

Conclusion

Being a writer is all about discovering who you are through your thoughts and written work. There is no end to this journey, and just like we evolve as people, we evolve in our writing skills.

Using online tools like a grammar checker does not mean that you are not good enough. It simply means that you are using everything available to you in order to learn and succeed.

Hold on to your goals and dreams and do not let one bad comment move you away from the path you are on. There will always be bumps in the road, but you need to get right back up and keep moving forward.

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Via: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/how-to-handle-online-criticism-of-your-writing

The Secret to Being a Happy Author

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I read this lovely post by Sam Tonge, and wanted to share it here – as it is very good and grounded advice. Something all writers and authors need to take on board.

It’s a tough business, publishing. I recall, years ago, a successful author warning a group of aspiring writers (me amongst them) to be careful what they wished for – that getting published didn’t solve all your problems. In fact, it brings a different set. And I can certainly confirm this. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and consider myself very lucky to be doing it –  but signing that deal means that instead of suffering submission rejections you are faced with a whole new gamut of challenges, such as tight deadlines, bad reviews, disappointing sales…these things happen to all authors and can come as a shock after finally achieving your dream.

It pays to bear in mind that most dreams are unrealistic – the getting published bit isn’t, but it’s what we subconsciously attach to that aspiration. Your view of “getting published” might be that… you earn loads of money. Buy a big house and fancy car. Gain respect from everyone you meet. Suddenly become irresistible to the object of your affection. Never feel depressed again. End up on the Booker List. Stand on the red carpet next to George Clooney. Fit into that size ten dress. Prove to everyone who ever doubted you that their view of you was incorrect.

IT IS UNREASONABLE TO EXPECT ANY OF THESE THINGS TO HAPPEN AS A DIRECT RESULT OF FINALLY GETTING YOUR BOOK OUT THERE!

So how can us writers hold onto our happiness during such a roller coaster career?

Over the last year I’ve learn a lot from Buddhism. One of its tenets is that unhappiness comes from being attached to either good or bad things. What helps is realising that nothing is permanent. If we can do that, our life will achieve a sense of balance.

Take my 2015 bestseller Game of Scones. It reached #5 in the Kindle chart and stayed in the Top Ten for a good length of time. It won an award. Many readers loved the story. I was finally on my way to “making it” I whooped! I attached myself to that success and expected it to continue.

That was my  mistake. The next book didn’t do badly, but didn’t do as well. I felt I’d failed. I attached myself to those feelings of disappointment and wondered if I’d ever have a bestseller again.

As it turned out I did and last year Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun got to #8. However, these days I have a different perspective. I don’t become attached to the peaks or the troughs. And I have zero expectations when a book is released. I write it the best I can, with love and heart, and I promote it at the outset… but then I let it go and get on with my next project. What will be will be. There are SO MANY reasons why a book does or doesn’t do well: the publisher’s strategy, the cover, title, price, the timing of its release, the other books around at that moment… I find that if I distance myself from my successes and see them for what they are – transitory events – it gives me a much more balanced view of my career.

Remember, the path to misery is littered with expectations and senses of entitlement!

And all of this can be applied to life. Physical looks, our own and loved ones’ personalities, domestic circumstances, financial earnings, our state of health … be aware that everything is impermanent and in a constant state of flux. This makes it easier to accept your situation when the status quo changes – which it will.

By all means enjoy your highs. You have worked hard. You deserve them. And lick your wounds during the lows. But remember – neither is permanent. Work hard and keep submitting manuscripts and you will get a deal. Keep writing and learning more about your craft and those good reviews and sales rankings will once again appear. Finding working with your current publisher/editor/agent difficult? One way or another that situation won’t last forever.

In my experience, keeping detached and enjoying the good moments simply for what they are (without further expectations), and realising the bad moments will eventually pass… THAT – in writing and in life – is the secret to happiness.

Via: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/news-and-blog/the-secret-to-being-a-happy-author/

Writers and Authors: 5 Reasons to Drop the Word ‘Aspiring’

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There is no such thing as an ‘aspiring writer.’ You are a writer. Period.” – Matthew Reilly

The term ‘aspiring author’/’aspiring writer’ is thrown about in literary circles without anyone giving it so much as a second thought.

It certainly seems like a harmless enough phrase. You’ve no doubt used it yourself, I certainly have. But harmless as it may seem, the term ‘aspiring writer’ is actually quite problematic, and could even be holding you back in your writing career. So the sooner you quit employing the phrase, the better.

Here’s five reasons why you should never refer to yourself as an ‘aspiring author’ ever again:

1. ‘Aspiring’ is an abstract term

Aspirations exist only in thought, not in actuality. To ‘aspire’ is to think, not to do. In this way, the term ‘aspiring writer’ allows for a state of inactivity. Or, as author Chuck Wendig puts it,

“Aspiring is a meaningless, null state that romanticises Not Writing.”

By dropping the term ‘aspiring’ and stating instead ‘I am a writer,’ you confirm to yourself, and to the world, that yes, you are actively working on a writing career. You are writing. You are a writer.

2. ‘Aspiring’ takes the pressure off

By describing yourself as an ‘aspiring writer’, you are essentially stating ‘I am not a writer now, but I would like to be one at some vague point in the future’. In doing this, you are reinforcing the notion in your head that all your writing efforts – all your physical, and actual hard work in pursuing your dreams – all lie beyond the present moment.

The pressure is taken off to write right now. In other words, what you are doing is permitting a ‘diet-starts-tomorrow’ mentality for your writing. But as a little, redheaded orphan once reminded us, ‘Tomorrow’ is always a day away.

Thus, ‘tomorrow’ never comes. So, if you truly want to be a writer, don’t wait until tomorrow, start today.

3. ‘Aspiring’ undermines self-esteem

Think of all the times you have described yourself as an ‘aspiring writer’. How often have you employed the term out of a lack of confidence or self-belief? Because you didn’t feel ‘qualified’ to call yourself a writer. But even if this is not the case, the term itself could be eating away at your self-esteem, without you even realising it.

As we have already established, ‘aspiring’ implies that the state of actually being is a thing of the future. In other words, stating you are an aspiring writer implies that you will not actually be a writer until some, unknown, future date.

In this way, when you use this term to describe yourself, you nurture the subconscious belief that your goal of becoming a writer will always lie just beyond your grasp – just out of reach. Such a belief is extremely demotivating, and can thus undermine your self-esteem.

So the next time you describe yourself, try using a more reaffirming phrase. Don’t say ‘I’m an aspiring writer.’ Say ‘I’m a writer.’

4. ‘Aspiring’ is a term to hide behind

Writing is a very difficult profession. Unfortunately, not all who turn their attentions to the written word succeed. For this reason, those of us who do feel the yearning to construct worlds out of words carry a great deal of anxiety.

We fear failure. We fear others seeing us as failures. And if we admit that we are writers, we must then own up to how much or how little success we have actually found.

Therefore, when we are faced with the judgemental eyes of a long lost acquaintance, probing us with the question, ‘And what do you do these days?’, we feel the need to apologise for the fact that we are not J.K. Rowling. We fear being labelled a failure or pretender, simply because we haven’t sold a million copies of that novel we’re drafting.

So we hide. We hide behind the term ‘aspiring.’ Because if we are merely aspiring, it’s okay if we haven’t found success yet. Because ‘aspiring’ means we aren’t necessarily trying. We are thinking, not doing.

But here lies the problem: if we never accept our title, if we do not stop hiding from our passions and begin at last to pursue them wholeheartedly, we will never find the success we so long for. It’s time we admit what we are. We are writers. No more aspiring. No more hiding.

5. Take yourself seriously

The moment you stop calling yourself an ‘aspiring writer’ and start calling yourself a writer, is the moment you begin taking yourself seriously. This is extremely important, as writers are constantly required to make others believe in them.

We must convince agents, editors, publishers, and readers that our writing is worth their time – that they should take us seriously. But this, of course, is impossible to do unless we take ourselves seriously, first.

So the next time you need to explain to anyone ‘what you do’, don’t shy away and hide. Have confidence in your abilities, and never refer to yourself as an ‘aspiring writer’ ever again. You are a writer. Period.

Via: http://writersedit.com/5-reasons-drop-aspiring-aspiring-author/

Why Taking Writing Breaks Is Important

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Often when we work continuously on the same piece of writing (especially a long piece) we can lose our objectivity. Sometimes we get so caught up in our writing, we forget that simply powering through can affect the quality of our work. Taking a break allows us to come back to our work with a clear mind and a new perspective. This is important because it also allows us to critique our own writing by bringing a fresh view to our work.

Sometimes when reviewing work after a break we might even change our focus and bring new ideas to our writing. This is very useful when your writing just isn’t working. If you are at the point where you are forcing a story, take this as a sign to take a break from it.  Give yourself time to understand why it isn’t working and allow your creative juices to flow and bring you a new view, a new path to take in your writing, or even the courage to scrap what you were doing and start something completely new.

As writers, we overwork our brains and we don’t realise it. We are constantly thinking, constantly brainstorming, and constantly flooding our heads with superfluous information from blogs to books” – Paul Jun (Problogger)

Remember why you write

There are many reasons why writers write. Some of these are:

  • We enjoy it
  • We have something we want to say
  • Writing gives our imagination freedom to run wild
  • To inspire others
  • It’s our creative outlet

Whatever the reason, we shouldn’t lose sight of why we are writing something and we certainly shouldn’t lose the enjoyment. If you find that this is happening to you then take a break. The last thing you want to do is lose sight of the reason why you are writing. Especially if it’s important to you. Sometimes taking a break to remind yourself of these reasons can be very useful. Take the time to give your mind some breathing space, relax and enjoy life.

Taking a writing break doesn’t mean you can’t think about writing or think about new ideas. As writers, simply seeing or hearing something can spark our creativity and cause our imaginations to run wild. This doesn’t need to stop. Taking a writing break can simply be a break from your current writing project to allow your mind to have a rest and let you re-energise. In the meantime, if you get an idea for another piece of writing, or even for your current project, jot down the idea so you don’t forget it and come back to it later. This will also allow you to assess your new idea objectively.

Time Out and Observation

There are some things you can do whilst taking a break that can help your writing and help you to view what you have written objectively. When you are out, whether it be in a shopping centre, in a park, or when you’re simply around other people, listen to the way people talk to each other. This is one way to check whether the conversations between your characters sound realistic or forced. When you listen to the way people talk naturally, you may realise that some of the conversations between your characters sound robotic or too formal. This is a good way to remind yourself how a conversation between people flows naturally.

“We writers tend to live in our heads and its necessary for us to step outside and enjoy the sunshine more than every once in a while. Shaking up your routine can sometimes, inadvertently, lead to you generating some of your best material” – Mitchell Martin Jnr. (Paper Hangover).

Simply observing people can help you with your character development. Observation can often spark the creation of a new character, add realistic descriptions to your characters and their actions, or even give you a new story idea. For example, you may see a couple who are arguing, even if you can’t hear what they are saying, you might want to use your creativity and make up something that they might be arguing about, something that can be applied to your characters.

Observe (discreetly) the body language of the couple as this can help when you describe interactions with your characters. You want your readers to be able to visualise what is happening and the more realistic it sounds, the easier it will be for your readers. Or perhaps you notice an interesting looking person, someone who is oblivious to what is going on around him or her, perhaps he or she doesn’t seem to notice other people because they don’t seem to care what other people think. Do you have a character like this in your story? If so, some simple observation can give you wealth of inspiration.

Keep reading

Enjoy other people’s writing. Choose a book that you like and read (or re-read) it. Take the time to think about why you enjoy this book so much. Think about things such as:

  • How does the author capture your attention?
  • What methods does the author use to keep your attention?
  • Do you care about the characters in the story? Why or why not?
  • How does the author move the story along?

You can learn a lot by reading books and understanding techniques used by other authors. This can add great value to your own work when you are stuck on how to progress your story or when you need a reminder on how to keep the reader interested.

How long should the break be?

Only you can decide how long of a break you should take. Don’t feel guilty if you end up taking a long break. Take all the time you feel you need. Your writing will be there when you are ready to come back to it and it will benefit from the break. So, if you feel that your writing is getting stale or if you feel that you simply are not making progress, then do yourself a favour and have a break from your writing. Allow yourself time to refresh, get reacquainted with your creativity and revamp your writing.

Via: http://writersedit.com/taking-writing-breaks-important/

Is A Pseudonym Right For You?

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In the past the use of a pseudonym (or pen name) has been common practice for many reasons. It’s been a particularly popular choice among authors who change genres, are concerned about their privacy, or want to mask their gender. While some authors have been known to make great use of pseudonyms, it’s all about when to use them, and when to not. In this age of digital abundance, it could be argued that pseudonyms offer little use to most authors. This is especially the case when authors choose to use a pseudonym for the wrong reasons…

If you are an emerging writer and you have ‘nothing to hide’, you probably don’t need to use a pseudonym. In fact opting to use one is likely to place more strain on yourself and your publisher, as it requires you to register the name for copyright purposes and requires consistent application of the name when you’re submitting works to publish. Editor and writer Moira Allen has some great information on the logistics of using a pseudonym that you can find on her site ‘Writing World‘. If you have found success as an author however, there are a few good reasons to adopt a pseudonym.

When a Pseudonym’s right for you

You need to keep your worlds separate

Do you need to keep your personal and professional lives separate? If you answered yes to this question, using a pseudonym could be a good idea. Privacy is a lot harder to maintain in the electronic world, but if you’re careful, it’s possible to hide your true identity from your readers. Separating your personal life from your work life can be particularly relevant for writers of certain genres. Are you an erotica writer that teaches primary school by day? Or do you work for a government department that won’t allow you to publish under your real name? These are the sorts of situations when you’re likely to benefit from using a pseudonym.

You’re switching genres

Once you’re an established writer you may decide you want to switch genres. Let’s say you’re a romance author who wants to mimic the style of authors like George R.R. Martin and explore the world of fantasy; it’s common practice to use a pseudonym in these situations. J.D. Robb is a good example of this. He managed to stay masked as a new science fiction writer for a staggering six years before coming out as Nora Roberts, a popular romance author. Even since her revelation Nora Roberts still publishes her sci-fi novels under J.D. Robb. Using a different names for different genres can keep your readers from getting confused and allows them to stick to the reading the genre they want.

When not to use a pseudonym

Sadly many authors make the mistake of using a pseudonym for the wrong reasons, or don’t acknowledge how difficult it is to juggle a pseudonym and your real name. An author on Mindy Klasky’s blog cited her difficulty with maintaining her pseudonyms:

“I tried to juggle two pen names before I was published – one for erotic romance, one for mainstream. That meant I was three people in public. It was waaaaay too confusing for me; I never knew how to refer to myself at conferences. Fortunately, only the erotic romance took off, and I could drop the other pen name before people even really knew it existed.”

When you want reader’s to identify with you

People associate the name with the writing it accompanies, not the other way around. The truth of the matter is that people are more likely to identify with your work if they can identify with you as an author, readers like having that link between them and the person that wrote the book they’re obsessing over. Think about it, every time you read a book that you really love, the first thing you do is Google the author; you want to know who they are and what they do, more importantly you want to know if they have any other books that you can fall in love with. Next thing you know, you’re buying all their books and recommending them to all your friends. Writing anonymously can take away that link between reader and author.

You want to protect yourself legally

Another common mistake writers make is thinking using a pen name can protect them against defamation or writing about real people. This is definitely not the case. A pseudonym will never protect you against legal repercussions. Your pen name is a flimsy cover for what’s underneath; the exterior doesn’t change the interior. One way or another the people you write about will find out who you are and that’s bound to get messy. The only real way to avoid legal ramifications is to keep your subjects informed and always seek their permission.

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Deciding whether or not you should use a pen name can be tricky, the best way to decide is to weigh up the pro’s and con’s that are relevant to you and your circumstances, and consider how using a pseudonym could benefit you.

Good luck!

Via: https://writersedit.com/pseudonym-right-for-you/

40 Authors on How to be Happy

Unless you’re an animated sunshine or a clown, it’s difficult to maintain a constant state of happiness. As the weather gets progressively worse and the world appears to be imploding, we have some rather well-timed advice from 40 classic authors on how to be happy or how to avoid unhappiness. If you’re smiling by the end of this then you’re welcome…

Via http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/books/40-authors-on-how-to-be-happy

Authors Beware: Think Twice Before Signing a Contract

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Never sign a book contract with a publisher without doing your homework first. There are so many small publishers nowadays, and while some are good, there are many that are not so good. Even among some well-known small publishers, problems have arisen with overdue payment or no payment of royalties to authors.

Via http://www.justpublishingadvice.com/authors-beware-think-twice-before-signing-a-contract