The Problem With Constructive Criticism

I frequent a writing forum that has a ‘Share Your Work’ section.  It’s made for budding authors to post pieces of their work, (Usually about 2000 words long.) specify the level of constructive criticism they would like and then have the community pick it apart.  I’m sure that sounds a bit like vultures feeding on roadkill, but in actuality it’s all very civil.

But I realized just now that even though you will likely gain some good tips from a constructive criticism forum such as that, you will probably never find out when your work is ‘good enough’ to be published or submitted.

I know this because I often go to ‘Share Your Work’ to constructively criticize others’ work.  And today, right after I had finished doing that, I started reading Ernest Hemingway’s  Hills Like White Elephants.  And I started picking it apart.

Now, it’s not that I think Ernest Hemingway is above criticism.  Nobody is, and there are probably ways to improve any story ever written; but that’s not my point.  My point is that if someone were to continually post their work to be constructively criticized with the plan that once they had ironed out all the criticisms they would start submitting it, they would never submit it.

I think that’s mostly due to human nature.  When you post something asking for criticism, you will get it, no matter how good your work is.  Ernest Hemingway got it from me just a few minutes ago because I was still coming out of that critical view I take when I go to ‘Share Your Work’.    Similarly, someone who asks for others to criticize their work is going to get their wish– and, in fact, the people criticizing it will start reading it with the pre-conceived notion that the work is inherently (Perhaps even critically) flawed in some way.

At some point you need to be able to objectively look at your own work and say ‘Good enough,’ and move on.  Don’t let potential issues or perfectionism keep you from submitting, because otherwise you’ll never get anything out there.

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