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Nancy Connally’s Critique Case Study, Day 2: How wisdom from an on-line writing village gave her perspective–5 specific tips

Nancy Connally tells how she balanced out the negative critique by learning from the wisdom of an on-line writing village...including finding out that even exceptionally gifted writers must learn how to cope with folks who don't take to their work. --JGR

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Nancy Connally, Guest Blogger

Later that day, I checked in with a writers group I belong to (Women Writing the West). The members are a diverse, talented group with plenty of published, award-winning works.

One of those authors, who received a writing award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum among many others, had read a bad review of her most recent book. She was philosophical, saying such things are part and parcel of a writer’s life. You take the not-so-good with the good, and hopefully you don’t let the not-so-good discourage you from writing.

My first thought was, “Who on earth could find fault with her books?” I would treasure being half the writer she is.

Her post at the website triggered considerable response from the other writers, all of whom have experienced sharp criticism. They shared advice and hard-learned lessons like:

1) Study the criticism, weigh it against what you intended in the story, and toss aside what isn’t helpful.

2) Learn how to separate barb from truth.

3) Take the best critique or review and the worst, set them aside, and then study the others.

4) Accept that not every reader will be your kind of reader, which is why somewhere—in later drafts—you need to determine who your audience is.

5) Finally, understand there are reviewers and PWC who prefer to be negative.

All of the advice, and the fact that other writers knew how I felt, was balm for my wounded sense of who I am and why I’m doing what I’m doing.

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1 Responses »

  1. I think number 4 is so important. Not every reader will be our kind of reader. If we paraphrase Abraham Lincoln's famous quote and substitute the word "please" for his word "fool" I think we have something important to hang on to:

    “You may [please] all the people some of the time, you can even [please] some of the people all of the time, but you cannot [please} all of the people all the time.”

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