“You’re not good enough” That’s what I heard the minute I started reading an email from one of my editors. The email was a response to my latest article.
The truth of the matter is this: the email never once strung together the phrase that I heard, but I’ve become so accustomed to letting these words ring through my head, that my discombobulated translator read an email of edits and changes to an article and spat out the other side this simple phrase that can be oh so damaging to any creator.
Yes, I want to get better. Yes, I love having someone to help me refine my writing. Double yes, feedback is essential to improving. So, why is it that I can’t seem to find a healthy response to critique of my writing.
Not once in that email did my editor call into question my ability to write well. Not once did they tell me, “Well, that’s it, we’re done.” Not once did they criticize my character. But, I took the words deep. My heart sunk. Anger started to churn in the pit of my stomach. I was ready to fire back an email carefully crafted to hit them hard with criticism and make them feel small just like I did.
But, did my feelings of smallness really have anything to do with them? Or was that just a result of the aforementioned discombobulated translator in my head?
Here’s what I think really happened (cue the rewind sound in the movie of my mind). I wrote an article assigned to me and had some great moments, but as is often the case, the first draft wasn’t the best I could do. I sent this first draft to my editor. My editor looked at the article and hacked and pushed and moved and flourished (as is their job), and sent all their feedback to me. Instead of receiving this feedback and criticism as helpful and beneficial to my work, I chose to take it personally.
All of these things are part of the writing process. EXCEPT one little thing. My decision to take the feedback personally is not a necessary (or beneficial) step to writing well.
Knowing how to receive feedback and criticism is key to growth. In writing (and every facet of life) this is true. Knowing how to receive feedback is a skill. It’s a skill that I’m still learning.
I must learn how to reject the stubborn heart and jerk reactions inside of me. I need to learn how to hear criticism of my writing and not take it as an attack on my character. I must learn to accept that my first draft usually isn’t a refined masterpiece.
How do I learn this? To be honest, I’m not sure of a five-step plan, but I know that today, I will go back to my editor’s email, look at their comments with an open mind, and carefully create a second draft that is cleaner and better and more refined than the first one.
For today, that’s a big step, and it’s enough. Maybe tomorrow I’ll work on that five-step plan...
Hi, I'm Emma!
A Maryland girl who moved to Washington state seeking adventure, I adore writing and delight in sharing my favorite things. I celebrate whimsy and you can find me doing a happy dance when something really strikes my fancy.