Don’t Be Afraid of Constructive Criticism

The First Writer and Editor: 'Take out that part?! Are you nuts? How is the stampede scene at the end of the cave going to make sense without it?!'

 Courtesy of Cartoon Stock

Today, I had a writing meeting with my Online Journalism professor. I was so scared for this meeting, and have been dreading it for about a month now.

I quickly realized after my meeting with him that this was the most helpful experience I have ever had in my three years of college.

Now, my professor is credible. He has done some amazing things during his career. He has traveled and interviewed some pretty intense people. He writes for Forbes. He is  extremely knowledgeable about, well, pretty much everything.

So, you can understand why I was scared. Yet I knew I would come out discovering something new about myself. And I did. After my professor edited one of my articles right in front of me, I had a revelation.

I have always been very insecure about my writing. I never knew if this stemmed from my other insecurities, but I could never put my finger on why. I had people tell me before that I am good. Teacher, professors, my friends. But I still felt insecure.

My professor explained to me why I felt this way. I continue to struggle with letting go of the rules of English writing installed in me for the first 12 years of my schooling. My writing had no flow because I was reluctant to break these rules.

For example, I usually never start my sentences with conjunctions. I never know when to start sentences with “because’. Basically, my writing was too formal for a journalistic setting.

I was taking the rules I learned in english and applying them to journalism. My teacher told me that communication to the audience matters more than the rules do. AP style is a given, but write to get a message across to your audience. I realized that I rarely do this now after years of english and creative writing.

Now, I know I have already posted on the differences between english and journalism writing. So, my message is this: do not be afraid of constructive criticism. Let people tear your work apart. I did, and I got some awesome advice out of it.

No matter what field you go into, journalistic writing or creative writing, you are going to have editors. This is a fact of the business. In my experience, editors usually edit your work on their own terms and on their own computer. Never be afraid to ask your editor to edit and article with you.

I think a lot of people are afraid to have their work criticism, but there is a difference between criticism and constructive criticism.

A lot of the time people just want to help you become a better writer, not tear you down.

Check out this article on editing tools, and go out there and have some peeps read your stuff. You go this.




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