Posted by: writerjames | February 2, 2011

Don’t Be Defensive!

As a writer, it’s easy to become defensive of your work.  That’s your baby on the page, and no one better say it’s anything but perfect.  I myself have fallen into that trap many times, and I’m sure I will again.  In order to improve our work, however, we have to fight the urge to defend what we’ve created  so we can open ourselves up to making the work better.

When you’re writing something, it’s a work of art.  It comes from inside you, and it is shaped by your imagination and your voice.  After it’s written, though, you have to treat it more like a product.  You want to sell it, so you want to make it as valuable as possible to as many people as possible.  If you look at it that way, it’s easier to seek out both constructive and destructive feedback so you can improve the product.

In a writing group, it can often be easy to grow comfortable with the people you read with week in and week out.  Sometimes, when a new member comes in with new criticisms, our feathers can get ruffled.  We think to ourselves, “Who the hell is this person to tell me…”

Fight that urge.  No matter who it is, whether or not you think you’re a better writer than them (egomaniac!), listen to what they have to say.  Use it.  Remember that in the end, it’s about making your work better.  That’s what is most important.  Pull and use whatever information you can from whoever is willing to give it to you.  Exploit all criticism.

If you want everybody to think what you’ve written is perfect and never give you any advice, go for it.  Good luck.

If you want to make your work better, however, lower your defenses.  You’ll be amazed how much valuable feedback is out there when you make the decision to seek it out and use it to your benefit.




  1. Good advice, if not hard to remember in the moment. I enjoy the feedback if not always at the time. Often it takes a moment to process before it can be implemented, a step back if you will to be able to see the value in it. And although I will listen to anyone suggestions, they are easier to accept from someone whose writing I respect.

  2. Well said – and worth remembering as we hit the home stretch of seeking publication.

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