Janet Muirhead Hill Tells Writers How to Separate our Personhood from Our Work When Receiving and Using Criticism

Today, Guest Blogger Janet Muirhead Hill, author of the Miranda and Starlight series of six books and Danny’s Dragon, a story of wartime loss concludes her Riehl series on “Overcoming Rejection and the the Writing Life.” Quite inspiring, no? Janet, thank you for being one of the other Janet’s in the world and sharing your wisdom with our on-line writing village–JGR


Janet Muiread Hill, author

Above all, remember these two crucial points:

1) The writer has to somehow separate herself from what she has written.

2) The editor or reviewer is analyzing the work, not the writer as a person.

That may seem obvious, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. When we writers pour heart and soul into our work, we may have a very hard time separating ourselves from our creations.

1) Calm yourself to be objective: I have to tell myself repeatedly that my critics aren’t saying “I’m a horrible person or a terrible writer. Look at what they are saying.”

2) (If that isn’t true, then the critic along with the critique should be summarily dismissed.) Dismiss personal attacks.

3) Wait awhile. The next step is to let it jell for awhile, then come back and examine it objectively.

4) Rely on your judgment. Remember, you know the characters, the plot, and the purpose and direction of your story better than anyone else.

5) Keep an open mind. Keeping that in mind, examine the criticisms and suggestions of the reviewer or editor with an open mind to see whether they are valid or not.

6) Use what you need, lose the rest. Employ what it supports and enhances, and disregard what doesn’t fit. Many blunders, long boring passages, and inconsistencies have been pared from my work thanks to the honest and thoughtful critics who care about my writing.

I have come to appreciate and rely on “critics” as I write my stories. It is far better to write and be criticized, than not to write at all.

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One Comment

  1. Janet, this is the step that is hardest to do, I think…to separate ourselves from our work–in any field, but especially in the creative fields. I appreciate the steps you’ve given us to give us some guidance in how to get there.

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