Megan Mitcham · writing advice

It’s Not Personal

“It’s not personal.” Don’t you love the saying? I’ll bet you do. About as much as you like a slap in the face. Inevitably, this phrase comes on the heels of some sort of criticism. Whether the opinion is engineered to help or hurt, it seldom gives a rosy flutter in your heart.

They say, “It’s not personal.” You reply, “But I am a person!” A person who has taken time and effort to create a masterpiece. A person who has lost sleep, skipped meals, missed out on fun to get the story out. A person who has poured their heart and soul into a project, laid it bare, to have it ripped to shreds.

It is personal. It is also going to help you, your story, and most of all your future writing.

Critiques.

They are often hard to hear or read. Your masterpiece is left singed and tattered. Yet, out of the ashes rises the story you can sell. The story you meant your masterpiece to be.

You write in seclusion your magical tale. But you are just one, not all powerful or all knowing, and are often too close to the words to see the flaws. When you shine light onto your work in the form of a critique it is improved.

So, how do you find a critique group? Here are some places to start your search: Writing Groups by State, Online Critique Groups, Roses Colored Glasses.

Above all, remember: 1) It helps. 2) You are not alone. 3) You will succeed.

Some other good links: Becky Levine’s Critique Comments Advice, Nathan Bransford Writing Advice.

Happy Writing and Critiquing!!

Megan Mitcham, Author

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11 thoughts on “It’s Not Personal

  1. It is hard when someone tells you that your baby is ugly. But on the other hand, if your plan is to enter your baby (ie book) in a beauty pageant (i.e. contest or submission), you need to know that a little blush and eyeliner might help your baby look a little more attractive to the judges, right?

    But you’re right. It can be hard to remember it’s not personal when your masterpiece is returned from your CP’s looking like it’s hemorrhaging to death! 🙂 Set it aside for few days. Place your feelings in another room and jump on that book with renewed vigor!

    1. Awesome analogy! And yes, setting it aside for a few days (reality: weeks in the beginning) then going back helped me so very much. Thankfully, my skin has roughened and I have seen the critiques improve my story and writing. Now, I can get a crit, read it, and put it to use right away.

  2. Critiques can be a hard pill to swallow. It’s best of your critiquers also have some training to know the most professional way to comment. It doesn’t hurt to tell you what’s good about your story as well. Thank goodness for the honest ones who will point out the plot holes, staging errors, and boring scenes!

    1. Amen, Ms. Brin! It’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it. Constructive is key. Also, knowing what a reader likes helps often as much as what they didn’t like. Hope you have a great day!

  3. Ah, but writing is a business. Professionals who read our work aren’t making a decision about us personally, but about our work. And why shouldn’t they, since that is exactly what our readers will do.

    1. In my head, I know this. Oh, but my heart. This writing as a business perspective has taken hold in the last several months. That, along with the improvement in my writing has made it easier on my left ventricle. 🙂

  4. I love that this was a positive piece and that you shared helpful links for writers looking for critique groups. Great comments so I won’t repeat what has already been said. One thing I try to remember with feedback of any kind– if one person is saying it (besides your editor), then take it with a grain of salt. If you don’t agree, don’t let it get to you. But if several people are saying the same thing, then whatever they’re saying should at least be seriously considered. But YOU are the one in charge of your own creative destiny. Sometimes, it’s liberating. Other times, it’s a pressure cooker. 😀

    1. Yay! Thanks, Jill. Reassurance comes when more than one person points out the same miss-step. And I agree with your creative destiny statement. It’s both the beauty and the crux of writing.

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