Monday, April 26, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Criticism

Even the most thick-skinned person out there has been effected by someone's negative criticism, although they may not admit it. We've all been there, and it hurts.

There is a good type of criticism too. Sometimes it's harder to come by and we don't recognize it for what it is. But it is out there. And that's a good thing.

How can any type of criticism be good?

When it's given with love. When it helps us become a better person. When it makes us want to improve.

As a writer, I subject myself to criticism whenever I let someone read my work. Take this last weekend, for example. I signed up for the Boot Camp at the LDStorymakers conference. I sat at a table with three other writers, and our instructor, Josi Kilpack. We each took turns reading our story, followed by receiving feedback from each other.

Without going into it with an open mind, it would have been brutal. Well, it was a little brutal anyway, but in a good way.

I can't tell you how much I learned during those few hours. I have such a better grasp on what I should be doing. I received advice for how to improve my writing. I gave advice for the same.

If I had gone into it thinking my story was perfect, and not open to new ideas, I would have been sorely disappointed.

We all have room for improvement. Not just in writing, but in every aspect of our lives. Having an open mind, and being willing to listen - really listen - will make the difference between growth and stagnancy.

I don't want to be stuck at the level I'm now on, in writing or life in general. I don't think I'm a terrible writer, but I know I have SO MUCH to learn. There are so many ways I can improve.

The next time feel like someone is being too hard on you, too critical, take a step back and think about it. Maybe they really are just being rude. But maybe they are trying to help you become better.

Here's my group from Boot Camp. They were amazing.
Left to right: Melanie Jacobson, Josi Kilpack, Jewel Allen, and myself.
Sadie was also in our group, but not here for the picture.

Thanks for all the help Ladies!


Jewel/Pink Ink said...

Hi Kim!! Great post. I was so grateful for my bootcamp feedback and getting to know you ladies. I usually brace myself for the worst, but writing only gets better with an open mind, I agree.

Good luck to you with your manuscript!

Angie said...

I loved boot camp too, for all those same reasons. I got feedback both on what worked and what didn't, and I was so thankful for it! (I wish I'd had a chance to meet you in person.)

Matthew Rush said...

Honest, sincere feedback truly is a gift. Even if it doesn't fit your vision and you don't end up making changes based on that particular advice it will still help to give you some perspective from a reader's point of view.

Sometimes it can be hard to take though.

Melanie J said...

I love it when people tear my stuff up CONSTRUCTIVELY. It's like, "Yes! Finally something I can FIX!"

For two years running now, Boot Camp has been the best part of the experience for me. Thanks for being part of the group.

Andrea :) said...

I love receiving good, honest criticism with love. I think love makes all the difference. Of course, being open to criticism is crucial.

I'm glad you had a great time and I can't wait to see what comes next! ;)

M. Gray said...

You have a great attitude for taking criticism! It really IS hard. I'm glad you learned so much from Josi. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post! I love getting feedback. It's the only way my writing can improve. I can't fix it if I don't know it broken (sorry for the cliche), or if I don't know how to fix it.

DeNae said...

Look how cute your critique group is! Mine was a buncha old ladies. I was clearly the cutest one in the club and I spent most of the weekend seeing if my hair could get so flat it looked more like a swim cap.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you, too. And I have to clear up a teensy little moment between us: You and I passed in the hall. You smiled at me. I looked right through you, and then realized who you were. But the moment had passed; you were gone. The problem, of course, is that I'm old and blind. I wear bifocals that make it possible to see as far as maybe, if I'm lucky, the end of my uber flat hair.

And I've felt bad about it ever since! So here's a whole gaggle of smiles for you, cute girl! Keep writing!

:) :) :) :) :) :)

elizabeth mueller said...

Hey, Kim! I'm so glad you enjoyed your table! It's really good you had a small group, that way Josi could focus more on your guys' needs! I'm glad you enjoyed LDStorymakers! PS--I love your blog look! It looks so much like a real website. Is it one? How did you do it? It's beautiful! :)

Josi said...

We had an awesome table--truly. Each of you are so talented which makes giving feedback so much easier to do. I was glad to get to know you guys and your writer a little bit better. Great post, too, constructive criticism is one of the biggest factors in my own writing that has challenged me to improve. Keep up the good work!

Tamara said...

Hi Kim,
Love your blog and your post. I think we met at storymaker's. Were you in the hall when we were waiting to talk to a presenter and I said to you, "maybe next year they could have a 'conference etiquette' page" and you agreed? Sorry if I'm getting you confused with someone else, but either way, I enjoyed boot camp as well. Tamara (

L.T. Elliot said...

What a killer group you were with! I'm so glad you went in with an open mind and got the things you needed. I feel the same way about bootcamp. I learned techniques that I sorely needed!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

You were quoted in the MormonTimes!

Here's the link, hope it works for you!