As a professional writer, I’m often under scrutiny when I write. If I’m writing my own pieces, chapters, essays or books, it’s all free form, a thrill when the words start to appear on the blank page. But when I ghostwrite and collaborate, I have several people to please: the client for whom I’m writing the book, the agent who has a bad habit of sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong, and then there’s me.
I’m good at taking editing, criticism, and direction. I’ve done it for close to two dozen books and when someone else’s edit is good and makes the book better, I’m all for it. In fact, I love it. But it’s hard not to get my nose out of joint when someone who knows less about writing than I do tries to tell me how to form my sentences and change the pacing. Rhythm, word usage, sentence structure, story, characters, clear descriptions, these are the things I keep in mind when I write. When all is going well, they seamlessly fit together and make a beautiful whole. But when someone is poking around my work to make changes that will downgrade the integrity of the work, I have to speak up.
This is where not taking things personally is such a challenge. When an editor makes changes, good or bad, it’s all part of the creative process. If I like the changes, so be it. If I don’t, then I may have to fight for my point of view, but not because I feel personally affronted. That has no place here. If I can avoid getting personally involved and view it as business, first and foremast, then it doesn’t stick in my craw when someone asks for changes with which I disagree.
A good rule of thumb is to remember that when someone is finding fault with you, they’re talking about themselves. If you can control your emotions and realize it has nothing to do with you, it becomes a great deal easier to take the criticism, see if it apples to you, and then work accordingly. How do you deal with these things in your own life? Do you take things personally when someone criticizes you or your work?