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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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aschalady
Aug. 6th, 2013 04:22 pm (UTC)
Wow. All of those are complete bullshit to be honest. Being a writer, even being a professional writer, does not mean that you give up everything including friends and family and a clean home to write. That is silly. Life inspires writing. I think you need to live something of a life outside your head to come up with fuel for the writing. What she is describing is not the tenets of a professional writer. It sounds like obsession to me.

And, for the record, writers write for the praise. For the idea of bringing joy to another, whether through escapism or thinking deeply or whatever. As you said, praise and critique are not mutually exclusive. Also, my house is usually spotless. Why? Because I have OCD and NOT having a clean house destroys my focus and creativity. Then again, I also make time for my children, my friends, and I even spend time out of the house hanging out with friends. Guess I will never be a "pro" but, if her standards are what we are being judged by, then I would rather just stay a hobbyist.

Edited at 2013-08-06 04:26 pm (UTC)