This isn’t a how-to for how to deal with criticism. It’s about identifying your personal philosophy about them. Love them, hate them, fear them, avoid them. But why? And what are your ideal critic and ideal critique?
Let’s start at the end. What is your ideal critique? I would love for someone to some day call my book “a high fantasy for all ages … has major elements of adventure mystery and love”. Knowing this about myself, I try to write these elements into my story.
You may not have thought about an ideal critic. But critics are not a single species. They are readers, so your ideal critic is probably going to be a lot like your ideal reader. Write for one and you may already be writing for the other. Personally, I see a critic as a reader who has a voice with other readers. So, to me, a critic is no more scary than any other reader. I see a particular critic as only being representative of a certain type of reader. Thinking about critics – who they represent, the power they wield (and why) – is intimately tied to how you see your readers.
How do you play with critics? Do you avoid them or invite them in? Even more important is why. Many times this is a reflection of how you see your own worth and/or the worth of your book. Some people look to themselves for this while some people look to others. Most people are in between. Other people see a critic or critique as a challenge to be met by their work or by themselves. These people might go seeking feedback.
Also important is whether or not you like the way you deal with positive and negative criticism. Once you know why you act the way you do, it is of course possible to change. But I digress. For the purposes of learning your personal writing philosophy, it is enough to know how you respond, why you respond, and possibly to set goals to change. A personal philosophy is, by its very nature, evaluative and contemplative so if you see room for improvement why not set goals to change?