As a writer, you must learn how to deal with criticism. And if you have worked with an editor ever before, you know how difficult it can be. You work hard on a piece, you feel good about it, and then you get it back covered in red ink with a request to rewrite half of it. It’s not a pleasant experience, but you need to learn to deal with it. To help you out, we’ve put together a writer’s guide to handling criticism.
You need to realize that this is a part of the job, and it happens to every writer sooner or later. Failure and rejection will make you a better writer if you know how to cope. If you can hear what they’re saying, you’ll make your self-editing better, and you’ll get fewer complaints about your articles in the future. Here are some strategies you should use to get there.
Separate Yourself from Your Work
No matter how much you like your job, don’t forget that it’s still just a job. Your writing isn’t an extension of yourself, and when the editor criticizes it, you mustn’t take it personally. They’re not saying that you aren’t hardworking, but rather that you should improve some things in the article. It’s as simple as that. Of course, you shouldn’t take criticism lightly, but be sure to get some distance from your work first. Think about what the editor is saying, and the chances are that you’ll see it makes sense. It’s their job to help you get through to your readers, so listen to them.
Get Beta Readers
If you have a content strategy in place, you know who you’re writing for. You know your target readers, and you know all the best ways to use quality content to get to them. However, your editor might have a different idea about what you should do. If you don’t find them approachable or forgiving, you might be afraid to send in your work. In this scenario, it’s a good idea to show what you did to someone whose opinion you value and trust. It can be a more experienced colleague or a friend with an eye for spotting typos and other mistakes. Beta readers are there to give you honest and free feedback that you can use to improve your work before sending it out.
If you want to become a better writer, you’ll have to build up your confidence. Learning to trust yourself is an essential part of handling criticism, but you have to be careful about what you do with that courage.
We’re not saying that you should go out and confront your editors, asking them to publish the article as is or else. That kind of behavior will get you nowhere. Instead, make a case for what you wrote if you disagree with your editor’s opinion. Stay calm and explain why you did it one way and not another. And if your editor points out some obvious mistakes, correct them right away. Work on developing an attitude of gratitude and embracing criticism. You’re a professional, and you need to handle these things as one.
Learn From Your Mistakes
We’re all humans, and we all make mistakes. If you want to become a better person and writer, you need to learn from these. Take notes of the feedback you get, regardless of whether it’s good or bad, and use that notes in your future projects. It’ll help you remember all the things you have learned from different editors, and in the long run, it’ll help you avoid blogger burnout. Going over your old notes and adding some new ones won’t take you more than a few minutes each week, and it will do a lot in moving your career forward.
Accept It and Move On
The final point in our writer’s guide to handling criticism is accepting the feedback and moving on. If no one liked your article, it’s not the end of the world. Learn what you can from it, and get onto the next piece. It’ll be better than the last one, and the one after it will blow it out of the park. Work more, work smart, and your writing will become better.
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Dale Dyer is a journalist and a passionate writer. He’s been freelancing for years, and at the moment, he’s working with Digital Dot New York. He likes helping people build their brands from the ground up, and he loves that he can be creative in the process.