Sunday, 29 November 2015

Feedback; the hate-filled necessity

I understand that nothing is perfect. 

I also understand that the only way of improving as a writer is through trial and error, failure and most importantly, receiving, appreciating and digesting constructive criticism. 

However, after getting feedback on a piece of university coursework this week, specifically a screenwriting treatment, I find myself feeling frustrated and slightly deflated at being awarded a lower mark than I expected.

What I got was a low 2:1 grade and though I appreciate that in hindsight this is a good mark, I still feel extremely frustrated that something I put everything into, and felt very proud of, was put down.

Never do I submit a piece of work, whether it be university work or not, without being absolutely sure that it is my absolute best. This means that every time I click the liberating but terrifying 'submit' icon, I feel quietly confident that a good mark is to be given back in return for my hard work. 

What I am beginning to find, however, is that the more serious I become about being a writer, the harder I am finding it to take criticism without feeling that it is personal. This is regardless of the fact that A- I find it easy to give feedback to others without it feeling like I am being personal, and B- understanding that never a piece of work, especially creative, is perfect and not in need of improvement. 

Yet as I write this and read over the comments that blights my work, I read each syllable as a dig at my creativity and skill level. 

I almost feel like saying, 'How dare you write this? I wrote it. I created it and to me it is worthy of praise and nothing else'. I feel like an overprotective father defending his child despite knowing that they most probably did do something wrong.

Please don't think for one instance think that I am being big headed as I'm really, really not. I am my own biggest critic and there have been many times I have written, re-written and eventually destroyed my own work out of self-hatred. Many evenings have been spent self-imploding after re-reading my work and coming to the rather abrupt conclusion that I am not to write Shakespeare in one sitting. 

It's a vile and common experience which I am starting to ride rather than fight.

I want to write and be immensely proud of what I have done and scream out my genius to the world.

And I guess this is why this feedback hurts a lot. 

It took me night after night to eventually come up with the plotline and characters that I submitted. And for someone to come along and question the 'world' that I created feels incredibly hard to take.

What I want to know is whether there are tips for taking feedback? Usually, like I said, I am very good at taking it and very thankful to those who give it to me. But on the occasion that you get comments you don't agree with, do you stay stubborn in your own belief that the comments are wrong or do you open the door to their comments and reluctantly allow them to alter your work?

To be honest, I already know the answer but I felt a blog post was the only sort of 'therapy' I had to subsidise the heart-aching reading of the 'feedback'.


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