Criticism, even if it is negative or acerbic, is useful if the writer genuinely takes it in his or her stride. I have a few tips I follow when listening to or reading criticism of my work.
If the criticism is in written form and I don’t agree with what it has to say, I let it lie for a while before going back and evaluating it for useful suggestions. That way, I’m really detached and objective when looking at the criticism, and it often leads to positive changes in my work.
If I’m sitting within a critique group, I attempt to do the following (This still needs work, because I’m often unable to stick to these tips. Needs practice, practice!):
– I make notes of all the critiques, no matter if they seem totally irrelevant or unfair.
– I do not defend the point of criticism, I try instead to explain what I was trying to do while writing the thing—-this often turns the whole affair into a discussion, not an argument.
– I try to keep in mind that tastes differ, and try never to argue about matters of taste.
– I try and keep a mental record of the parts I myself find a little weak, and watch out for criticisms regarding these parts.
Criticism is an important resource for a writer, and using it effectively can sometimes make all the difference.