How to Take Criticism in the Editing Process

While some writers thrill to the challenge of revising their work, others find receiving their editors’ comments uncomfortable, even hurtful, especially first-time authors. If you find yourself dreading the chopping block, try to remember the following points:


1.     First of all, remember that your editor’s job isn’t to praise or congratulate or fawn over you and your work—that’s what mothers and best friends are for. It isn’t even to point out a few things they like about your manuscript alongside the things that need editing. They have to devote all that time and energy they’re putting into your edit to focusing on the elements that aren’t working, the missing pieces, the weak points. Some editors will note parts that work well or delight, but usually in the context of illuminating what doesn’t. And other editors will address only your manuscript’s problems. It can be easy to be overwhelmed by what seems like relentless negativity, but try to remember that just because your editor has to zero in on what’s broken doesn’t mean that the manuscript as a whole doesn’t work.


2.     Try to get enough distance to see your draft as a work in progress, and try also to look at it in its own right, as a work unto itself, without seeing all the labor you put into it. So when it feels like your editor is insulting your baby, take a deep breath and remind yourself that they’re not. They’re evaluating a work of art and pointing it in the right direction—or helping it through its awkward teenage years, you might say. Your draft is an unfinished product, and you have the job of getting it as close to finished as humanly possible. The sooner you accept this, the sooner can get started, and the better you’ll do it.


3.     Keep in mind that this is your chance to grow as a writer and hone your skills—and thank your lucky stars that you have to do it in front of only one person rather than an entire audience. Many first-time authors try self-publishing their books online without going through the editing process, and are forced to take their books down when they garner nothing but negative reviews about its gaping plot holes, misinformation, or poor prose. Your editor is your guide to improvement, and they don’t kiss and tell—so this way, no one ever has to know what your first draft looked like. (And now remember that each member of the writing world has thanked their own lucky stars.)


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