No, You Aren’t Perfect: Or, Are You Open To Critique and Criticism?

Let’s start off by stating the obvious (or what should be obvious): YOU ARE NOT PERFECT.

Okay. I got that out of my system. Thanks. So here’s the thing: if you’re human, you’re imperfect. Thus, what you create is likely to be imperfect, too. This does not mean it’s without value. It is still worth trying, always worth trying – rather, we must try ever harder to obtain the closest thing to perfection, all the while recognizing it will get better, but it will never actually attain perfection.

Now, I get that as a writer or a creative person – or anyone who has created anything – that your creation is kind of like your child, if you will. It came out of your ideas, plans, and may constructive criticism by Philip Martinhave actually been shaped by your two hands. But your hands – being imperfect – and your mind – ditto – it could probably stand some improvement. Sometimes, as mere mortals, we may not be able to see the need for improvement, or the creation may have reached it’s highest zenith, but for the most part, it takes awhile to get there, and quite a few edits and revisions before it did.

So, are you open to those suggestions? Are you willing to see that your project isn’t perfect, but that with some work, it will get better?

I hope so. Because personally, I believe the greatest artists and creators are those who are willing to have a clear vision and idea of what they want, but are also open to the idea of improvement – whether it springs out of their own self-criticism, or out of the constructive critiques of others. Let me state that again in case I was unclear: your vision of the perfection of the project, where you wanted it to go / be, is always extremely important and central … but, sometimes the actual realization of said project still has a distance to go.

This is something that frustrates me because I’ve worked as a freelance writer and editor, and working with fellow writers, I know that some of them are more open than others to actual constructive criticism (ie, please read: some don’t want any kind of criticism at all, only blind praise). Indeed, there is a balance: you can’t always take everything someone else suggests to heart and change everything – if it’s not true to you or your original vision, only you will know that. And a critique should include both positive comments and suggestions for change. However, sometimes we get so close to our projects we can’t see them clearly any more and we need outside, clearer eyes.

I am a writer who craves a good critique. As a critique partner, I think I’m probably pretty strong-minded, and if I have an opinion, I will share it – but always with the proviso that it’s to be taken or discarded as the original author sees fit. Maybe that makes me a bad critique partner, I don’t know. But I only give what I’d love to receive: an honest opinion and a detailed critique that took time and care to prepare. All I want is to help / improve whatever I’m critiquing, knowing full well it is only my opinion.

Whatever the case, I know how hard it can be to realize that what you thought was perfect is not (okay, I may have some trouble with that … I critique my own work very harshly to try and keep improving it, and never see perfection). And I also know that it can be hard to know which opinions to take, which to ignore. Sometimes someone can be on such a different wave-length that you would never see eye-to-eye, and this may not be the best opinion for your to take … or it may be just what your story needs. Only you, “your gut,” and the inner vision you must retain for the project will ever know that.

So, are you open to critique and criticism, or is your “baby” too precious for that?

Thanks for reading, have a great week, and I’ll step off my soapbox now. 🙂

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