Archive for the ‘Criticism’ Category

That Evil Inner Critic

It appears I did it again…..

I neglected this blog yet again. I think this was like the third time now.  Again, I’m really sorry. My internet connection sucked. Okay, I’ll admit that I lived in the land of Dial-Up. Yes, that does actually still exist.  It was unreliable and super slow, so blogging took awhile. I got busy with other things included trying to get my book to the end (we’ll talk about that in a moment) and working on my jewelry and hair accessories that I sell (It would make me the happiest girl in the world if you checked out my etsy store…. just saying..)

So here I am, back at my blog now with high speed internet. Yes, I have finally made it out of dial up. Thank goodness. So hopefully I’ll be able to blog more now that it won’t take me hours to post.  Of course, it can make writing a little more difficult considering the distraction it can be. But, good news is that I’m about three or four chapters away from finishing my book.  That’s always a good thing, right?

My problem always has been finishing though. I sort of freeze up and really start to feel the pressure. Everyone starts asking if I have finished yet, what am I going to do with afterwards, how I’m going to get it published. Blah, blah, blah. All of this pressure starts to build up and I freeze. I start getting really critical about the words I type and whether it’s good enough to actually publish.  Yes, my book is about the start of a zombie apocalypse, but it’s not completely full of zombies either. It’s really character driven and sometimes I’m not sure if that’s what people want. I know you can’t please everyone and we all have bad critics who want to bash everything we do but……. I don’t know. Sometimes it’s hard to get past the inner critic in my own head to get to those outside critics.

That’s my biggest problem. The inner critic always wants to bring me down. Will I let it? Of course not. But, it’s always a bitch to get over.  How do you turn off the inner critic in your head to get the work completed? Let me know in the comments section below!

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We’ve all been there.  We work really hard on our writing projects and send it out to someone we trust, someone we feel will give us the best advice on where we should go from there.  Maybe we need a different pair of eyes looking for certain issues like grammar, punctuation, spelling errors, or those dreaded plot holes. Of course, we know that our projects aren’t perfect, so we expect some comments.

We wait anxiously for our projects to return. Paranoia sets in if you don’t get it within a reasonable amount of time. We begin to think: was it really that bad? Why is it taking that long? Are there that many errors?  We don’t take into consideration that people do have other things to do. That will never cross into our minds at that time.

Then that long awaited day arrives when you open up your e-mail and find your project back. The anxiety hits again and your mind races as you scan the document.  Then you get that awful knot in your stomach when you finish and you think:

Ouch, that hurt.  I didn’t think it was that bad..

Every little thing was pulled apart. Every sentence was wrong…all of the characters weren’t up to par and your whole plot needed to be reworked. Basically, that critic says: “You should just start over.” It kind of reminds you back when you were in school and just turned in a paper. You hand it in thinking you did your best and surely you’ll get a nice passing grade. Then, you get it back and it’s almost smeared in red ink. That dreaded red ink.

Chances are, you’ve encountered a bad critic; one who doesn’t understand that this is just a first draft and of course there needs to be some work done to it.  But, they only zero in on the bad. No good comments will be heard from them. They’re what people call “Negative Nancy’s”. Everything is wrong and nothing is right.  Instead of encouraging you with some good comments of what they liked, they’ll knock you down with their harsh critiques and negative views. It’s a tough thing to swallow because you begin to doubt your own writing.

The thing is, we can’t hide from those critics. We can’t run away from receiving criticism because it really can help our writing…. as long as it’s done constructively. Constructive criticism is the best kind to get. It’s helpful because it’s not knocking down everything you wrote and it’s also not telling you everything is perfect either.  Constructive criticism shows you what you need to work on and what sounds good in a positive way.  That’s the most important part.  Positivity.

What do you do when you encounter someone who is a bad critic? Last year, I wrote a post about my issues with a bad critic in my life, someone I like to call Critic Boy. I sent him a screenplay I was working on after he was interested in seeing what I had so far. I wanted a different view-point of it, so I thought why not? Once I heard what he had to say, I immediately regretted that decision.  In his opinion, nothing was good. My dialogue was awful (I think he used the word horrendous actually) and my characters were not relatable. At first I believed him, doubting what I wrote until I sent it to someone else who told me that yeah, I had some stuff to work on (all first drafts do), but it wasn’t “horrendous”. It was good and I should keep going. Suffice to say, I haven’t sent anything to Critic Boy after that.  Oh, and he has asked. But, he’s not reading it. At least not until it’s published. 🙂

Send your work in to people you trust. People who understand what constructive criticism is.  Make sure you leave your sensitivity at the door and swallow your pride when you hear some things that may not sit well.  Remember, first drafts aren’t perfect. You will have mistakes. It happens. So let go of that anxiety and get to work on that second draft!


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I never really thought it would be such an important question. In my eyes a “writer” is someone who writes. I just thought that was common sense…. maybe I was wrong.

A year ago, I wrote a post talking about someone said I couldn’t call myself a writer yet because I wasn’t published. I was kind of taken aback by that, thinking what his logic was at saying that, but I dealt with it. That’s what I learned you have to deal with what I like to call…. “The Writer Clique.”

We all know they’re out there whether we would like to admit it or not.  They’re the snotty writers who like to think their writing is better than everyone and they can dictate who is a writer and who isn’t. It’s almost like they sit in candlelit rooms in a circle critiquing any person who has a dream of being a writer. They are extremely hard to please and don’t want the competition. They are the worst critics you will ever meet.

It’s happened to me again recently. Someone asked me how my book was going and I admitted that I had faced some issues but I’m working on getting back on track. Here’s part of the conversation:

Writer Snob: So, you’re not published yet?

Me: No, I’m still working on that.

Writer:And you’re calling yourself a writer?

Me: Well, yes. I’m writing therefore I’m a writer.

Writer: You can’t call yourself that until you’re published. Everyone knows that.

Since when? I don’t think everyone knows that. Not everyone agrees with that because I sure don’t. I think these people have their definitions wrong. They became so focused on being the best and knocking everyone else down that they don’t even know what they’re talking about.

Someone said it best on Twitter: A writer is someone who doesn’t quit.  Nowhere in that sentence does it say they HAVE to be published. It just says they are someone who never gives up writing. That’s a writer.


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Taking a time out from Harry Potter week and using this post to vent a little bit. This is probably going to end up like a reflection post.

I grew up being quite a shy girl. I was pretty quiet and didn’t need a whole lot of people around me to make myself feel complete.  I suppose I just didn’t feel all that comfortable striking up conversations with a large group of people. It was always an awkward situation for me.

Maybe you could say I would get lonely sometimes. Being voted “Most Bashful” during my senior year wasn’t a shining moment in my life. It got tiring after a while, being known as “The Quiet One” or “Miss Shy Girl”.  “Of course she’d be a writer,” they would say. “She doesn’t like to talk so she writes.”

It’s not that I didn’t want to talk because I did. It’s because they never wanted to listen.  Let me explain. I went to a very small, rural school. I graduated with a class of 26 kids. That’s right. 26. You would think it would be easy to get  a word in with that kind of small number. No. You see, when you get that kind of number, you also get the kids who think they rule the school. Even cliques happen at a school like that.

So, the shy kids get booted to the side because they don’t have an opinion. Let ’em write it out. Yeah, I would get frustrated with that, but I’m not one who enjoys drama.  I told myself that I would prove to everyone that I was capable of doing what I wanted to do. I was going to show everyone that a shy kid like me could accomplish something instead of fading into the background.

That’s what they all thought. I would just fade  into the background like some wallflower and never accomplish anything. Critics…

I don’t even know why I thought about this today, but I did. As I was finishing up a chapter I’m working on, every single one of them popped into my head. It fueled my writing even more. I want to prove to everyone in this rural area that you can be successful doing something different. It’s possible.

I’ll be the first to admit to you that I’m still a “quiet girl.” Maybe a bit misunderstood, but I still dislike the snobs and the ones who think they’re above everyone else.  I may never be one of the “popular people” but I never really tried to be. I’m just me, you know? A quiet girl who loves to write and does her best to make her dreams a reality. That’s good enough for me.

I hope it’s good enough for you.

I want to break stereotypes. I want those quiet kids to feel more comfortable with who they are than I did. I want them to know it’s okay to be yourself and to not follow the “cool kids.” Follow your own path and accept yourself. If you don’t accept who you are, how can you expect anyone else to do that? It doesn’t really matter how many friends you have. Don’t base your happiness on that number. It’s all about the quality of the friendships you have. Concentrate on being friends with those that truly care about you.

Sometimes, I forget that.

And, you know what? If you happen to be a quiet writer, embrace it and never forget that’s who you are.

I’ll end this post with a poem I wrote the other day:


Don’t start judging before you get to know me.

Don’t start casting doubt before you understand.

I may not be your average girl next door,

but I like it that way.

I may have my hair too dark

and my nail polish too black

My eyes are just as mysterious,

But that’s just who I am.

Try not to cast stones before you meet me.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised

in the end.

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Since I’ve really started my writing journey (and this blog), I’ve made some interesting people. Most of them I appreciate and hold dear to my heart because we share the same goal. We’re writers who have stories to tell. The minor things don’t matter as long as our stories get told.

Then, as soon as you’re feeling all happy-go-lucky, you encounter who I like to call “The Writing Cliques”. Sure, I’ve been told that there is nothing wrong with cliques. They make you feel like you belong which is fine.  These writing cliques are not okay with me if they’re not willing to accept all writers for who they are.

Recently, I encountered a writer who was published. Several times.  Good for him, right? I understand some of them don’t want to take the time to hand out advice to “newbie writers” like myself, and I wasn’t asking for any. He asked me what I’ve had published and I told him I haven’t been published yet. I’m still working on my first book, but it’ll happen when the time is right.  What he said after that blew me away.

“You can’t really call yourself a writer if you haven’t been published yet. You’re just only an aspiring writer. You’re not full-fledged yet.”

This is where I took a pause to let those words sink in. Did he really just that? I stopped calling myself an “aspiring writer” when I devoted myself to my book, to my future writing career. It’s like some writers don’t want to let you into their “club”.  I’m starting to think it’s an exclusive one. Sometimes, I feel like I’m in some kind of high school movie…

I feel like I’m in Mean Girls or something.  Those girls decided to bring Lindsay Lohan’s character into their clique, but not until they changed her into one of them. Eventually, she saw the light and realized being a “mean girl” wasn’t the way to go.  That’s how I feel when some writers try to say, “Well, you can be in our club, but you have to do this and act like this.” That’s not how I see it. I am who I am. Take it or leave it. I am a writer even thought I haven’t published anything yet (I am a published poet though so..there you go). Sometimes, I feel like some writers take things too seriously. Take a breath and welcome new people into your environment.  We won’t mess with your stuff, we promise.

When I do become published, I made a promise to myself to never act like that to a “newbie” writer I come in contact with. I plan on helping out those who need me, and I do that now if someone who is just starting the writing process is in need for guidance. Being a writer can be a difficult and lonely thing to be. Why can’t we just support each other and build a strong community for all to enjoy?

PS: I won’t name the writer I encountered. I feel like that’s not a nice thing to do. If that’s how he believes, well, I’ll prove him wrong. Maybe this guy wears tweed coats…?

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Mark Twain once said:

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

Good ole’ Twain. He knew what he was talking about. Lately, that has been sticking out in my mind. Well, ever since I decided to write this novel, it has been something to think about. People seek approval. That’s just life. You want people to appreciate what you do and support you. That’s a huge motivation for anyone, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish.

For me, personally, it’s something I need to work on. There are times when I don’t approve of myself, which I guess sounds strange. I don’t show myself support. It’s like an act of self-sabotage. When you hear so much doubt coming from the people you are close to, saying you can’t do this, sometimes it’s hard to shut them out. But, I do. No worries there.  I learned to tune them out a long time ago.

So, today, I want you all to give yourself some encouragement.  Write down Twain’s quote above on a slip of paper, post it note, whatever you can find. Tape it up where you can see it and remember that you should always approve of yourself.   How can you expect others to do it when you don’t show yourself that respect?

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I realized something this morning.  I realized that I have been kind of neglecting my wonderful beta reader lately. It’s not that I haven’t been giving her things to read over.  Maybe it’s that I haven’t been very consistent with doing that since my last bout of writer’s block.

For those of you who don’t know what a beta reader is, let’s see what good ole’ wikipedia.com has to say about it:

A beta reader (also spelled betareader, or shortened to beta) is a person who reads a written work, generally fiction, with what has been described[1] as “a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public.”

Thank you, Wikipedia. That’s a beta reader. I am blessed with an amazing one who gives out the advice I need to hear. Let’s meet my beta reader, shall we? 🙂

Me and Annie

The one on the right? Yeah, that’s Annie.We have been friends  for about eight years now. We first met in high school physical education class. I was a senior and she was a freshman. When I was a freshman, they didn’t require us to take PE that year, so being the non-athletic person I am, I put it off until the last year. This, of course, forced me into a class full of freshman basketball players. I thought I was going to go crazy, but luckily, Annie and a couple of others were there to keep me sane.

Technically, Annie became my beta reader in high school after I finished a novel (that I never really had any interest in publishing). She wanted to read it and since it didn’t bother me, I let her. She printed the whole thing out and after she finished it, she told me she liked it. I still have the novel filed away in my computer documents, so maybe one day, I’ll get it published (with some well needed editing first..)

Why is Annie an amazing beta reader? She is very honest and has a great eye for detail. If something doesn’t sound right, she’s going to let me know.  Not in a way like Critic Boy who bashes everything I write, mind you. Annie is encouraging and is always excited when I send her stuff to read.  That excitement makes me excited to write more for her to go over. Her feedback is always genuine and thoughtful. She’s not out to break me down; she’s out to make me better.

She wants to see me be successful and for others to like this book. I knew she would understand these characters as much as I did. I knew they would speak to her. That’s important for me. I like to send Annie at least two chapters at a time while I’m in the writing process, so I don’t have to go searching for something after I’m finished and end up having to change everything to fit that one thing.  It helps get my writing into gear since I know she’s waiting for more chapters to read. I can’t leave her waiting, you know.

Every writer should have a beta reader they trust. If you have one, what’s your beta reader like?  If you don’t have one, what would your ideal beta reader be like?

Oh, and Annie, expect some more chapters in your e-mail on Friday. 🙂 That’s a promise!  You have witnesses here… ha.

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