Friday, November 21, 2008

Topic: Criticism of Your Writing

10-second review: If you’re going to learn to write, you’re going to have to learn to accept criticism.

Title: “How a Critique Group and Ad led to a Book Deal.” Susan Colebrook. The Writer (December 2008), 14. The Writer is a magazine with articles written by writers for writers.

Summary: The author discusses how she published her first book. Part of her advice is the following: “I left my ego at the door. In my critique groups, I really listened to others’ comments and tried to keep from defending my work.” p. 14.

Comment: Ouch! I’m thin-skinned. I don’t take criticism politely. I’m always defending my writing. And I’m losing the opportunity to learn. Will my readers tell me how they learned to shut up and listen dispassionately while others shredded their work, including editors and the readers of manuscripts for professional articles? I want to learn, but I’m emotionally unable to withstand criticism without fighting back.

While I think about my own weakness, I’m thinking also that maybe we need to help our students learn how to deal with criticism. I don’t think much of peer-response groups—ignorance sharing ignorance—but I could envision an experiment in which students conscientiously try to listen to others’ comments on their writing and evaluate what they have learned from those comments. For me, that’s an interesting thought
. RayS.

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