Let Barking Dogs Lie (a guest post)

Hey Folks,

Today’s post is a short but excellent guest post I purloined from my friend, Dan Baldwin. It first appeared as a Tip of the Week over at Four Knights Press (http://www.fourknightspress.com/).


Tip of the Week: Let Barking Dogs Lie

“That damned reviewer hated my novel!”

“The boss hated my e-mail!”

“I got an F on my essay!”

“They rejected my short story!”

“They panned my poem!”

Regardless of what you write, you will receive criticism. Regardless of the audience — readers, viewers, listeners, co-workers — somebody’s going to come down hard on all your hard work.

When hit with criticism, writers fall into one of two groups:

Writers in one group willingly hand over control of their future in writing to strangers. They bow down and channel future writing into the directions given, often demanded, by their critics.

Writers in group two ignore criticism and refuse to allow their creativity, direction and career to be dominated by others. They instead get on with the business at hand: writing the next thing.

I recommend joining the second group. You can adopt three reactions to help get past the inevitable “Oh, no, they don’t like my stuff I’m not worthy I feel sick” moments.

One: Don’t react to a gut punch with a gut reaction. Control your emotions and the urge to strike back. You have better uses for your time.

Two: Don’t take it personally. This is especially true if the criticism takes the form of a personal attack. Again, move on. You have better uses for your time.

Three: Realize that the comments aren’t a personal attack on you by an angry god, an amused devil, or the Wrath of Kahn. Don’t pick up that baggage and carry it to the next writing project. You have better uses for your time.

Am I arguing against criticism?


I am, however, making a case for the acceptance of selective criticism.

Whenever I finish a major project I automatically send it out for critical evaluation. The work is sent to one faction that reviews for grammar and spelling. Another group reads for content. “Uh, Dan, this is fine, but your article on Far Eastern overcoat manufacturing could have a better title than The Wrap of Kahn.”

Those specific types of criticism, from people you know and trust, are invaluable. You don’t have to agree or to follow the suggestions of those trusted critics, but your consideration of their input will make you a better writer.

Ignore the other type of critics and consider the old Arabian saying: The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.

Dan’s Quote of the Week: “One basic rule that applies is this: It’s not the writer who decides whether a character is cool; the reader makes that decision. If a writer tries to force things—or lead the witness, as it were—the result is an embarrassing failure.” ~ Lee Child

By the way, you can find the full Lee Child interview at http://crimereads.com/lee-child-the-emotional-contract-of-jack-reacher/.


Just a reminder — if you’d like to check out some of my work along with the works of some truly great fictionists for some ridiculously low prices, visit http://harveystanbrough.com/bundles/ and take your pick.

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