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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Just A Bit of Constructive Criticism...

Today's poster has it right. How many of us have vowed to never, ever say something our mothers were prone to saying to us? The next thing you know, we are moms (or dads) and the same words come spewing forth. We heard whatever it was so many times that it must have gotten lodged forever in our subconscious, only to rise at appropriate moments. 

One of the things my mother was famous for saying is this:  Just a bit of constructive criticism...and then she'd be off letting me know about some dumb thing I'd done or an error I'd made. I got to a point that when I heard those opening words, I cringed and waited to get hit between the eyes with the words that followed. And yes, I did say it now and then to my own children. By that time, I had come to realize that Mom tried to soften the admonishment with those opening words. 

This blog is about my writing world with tips and encouragement for writers. So, what's this about constructive criticism? From my senior citizen vantage point, I am aware of how beneficial constructive criticism can be. I've learned that it can be of great help to me.

I have urged writers to get critiques from other writers. If the crits they receive are constructive--meaning useful, valuable, helpful--the writer derives great benefits. On a rare occasion, a crit might be mean and hurtful, but that's not the writer's fault. That is due to something wrong with the critiquer. I hope none of us has to live through one of those kinds of crits, but it does happen occasionally. Best to dwell on the helpful crits and toss the dark and gloomy one to the four winds.

When I write that you should never do this or that and you suddenly realize you've already done it many times, what are you going to do? You can get mad at me for pointing out your error and probably some people do. Or you can take two steps back and try to look at whatever it was objectively rather than with your passionate writer's eye. 

Keep in mind this truth:  When constructive criticism is offered, it is meant to help you grow as a writer. It is not meant to slam you, hurt you, or offend you. It's a helping hand reaching out to you. It's up to you to either slap it away or reach out and grasp that offered hand.

I do try to keep those opening words silent in my blog posts. I may give constructive criticism but I try hard not to use that opening phrase Just a bit of constructive criticsim... I'll save that for my kids!

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