Then, when you’re trucking along with some good habits on your side, here’s the best thing you can do for your writing:
Don’t take praise or criticism personally.
Recently I posted about sending off my manuscript to my editor. I thought I was almost done. I was surprised when it came back to me for the next round of edits.
I’m not even close to being done. I thought I’d turned in what, for anyone else, would surely be a third or fourth draft. It’s not. It’s a first draft. It’s a raw first draft.
The first draft of anything is always shit–Ernest Hemingway
The only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts–Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
I’ve done a lot of good writing on this book. And a lot of it’s not good. A lot of it looks…like a first draft.
I would have been defensive about some of the editorial comments if I hadn’t learned the lesson over the past year:
For the work to be its best, you can’t fall in love with the praise and you can’t get hysterical over the criticism.
Writing a book is hard work. It’s worth doing right. And to do it right, you need someone who won’t shortchange the work to spare your feelings.
When my editor wrote, “I don’t want to seem too negative, I just…,” my response was:
My wife can hold my hand. I need you to be civil but ruthless. Let’s get it right. We can be great pals when it’s done.
Take the praise as a sign that you put in the time to get it right.Pat yourself on the back, put your head back down, and move on.
Take the criticisms as reminders that writing can always be improved. As challenges to hone your skills and pay more attention.
Honor the work. Give it everything it deserves.That’s the only way the readers will get what they deserve.
Go to it!