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So, there's a particular article about what differentiates a hobbyist from a pro writer, that is full of BS that has been talked about by various people like Brian Keene and John Scalzi.

One thing, though, I haven't seen addressed is this:

"4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise?"

Okay, I really fucking loathe this dichotomy. I have seen it a lot in crit and writing groups. This idea that either you take criticism like a masochist, or you are an idiot who wants people to pander with praise, is fucking stupid.

It's not a one or the other deal. You can want useful criticism for the things that you did wrong, or that you almost got right, or that could be better if you did this... and still want to be praised for the things you did well. There is an attitude in writer's groups that I find fucking harmful, which is that if you're a true pro, then you shouldn't care about praise.

It's fucking human to want praise. It's normal, and healthy, and for gods' sakes, I have seen so many crit groups where a badge of honor is taking sometimes downright abusive shit about your work, and not complaining. It's a toxic attitude. It's important for writers to hear both criticism and praise -- but too often, writers are told that if they even want praise, they obviously aren't serious.

Not to mention that praise is also an important part of a crit, because it helps you figure out what you're doing right. If all you have is a crit full of complaints, well, you can still work on improving, but it doesn't give you a very clear idea of your strengths.

You can want both. You should have both. And I am really annoyed at this all-or-nothing, one-or-the-other thinking. The world doesn't work that way.

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Aug. 6th, 2013 12:40 pm (UTC)
I fully agree. Two semesters ago I took a creative nonfiction class and wrote an immersion essay on tabletop gaming. I got nothing but criticism from my peers aside from one compliment about one sentence in the piece. I actually went to the instructor in tears during his office hours wondering if the piece was really that bad because next to nothing good was said about it.

Up till then I was used to balanced critiques. Even from very critical peers I had received compliments on a few strengths for my poetry and my fiction. Though for our personal essays for the CNF class I did receive more remarks on strengths. It may have had to do with them learning more about giving good critique.