Kill the critic… (Crimes for writers to commit – Part 1)

If there is one crime I would totally support every writer’s right to commit, it would be this: cold-blooded, premeditated murder of the destructive critic. You know who I mean: that whiny-voiced, wheedling guy inside (or outside) with greasy hair and a “reject” button at his fingertips.

Criticism is essential, and it’s the only way a writer can improve. It can be that inner voice that tells you that the sentence or paragraph or scene you just wrote is clumsy. Or it can be a well-meaning friend or mentor or teacher or reader who points out that your writing lacks life.

Sometimes there’s nothing worse than praise for a writer. How many times has the polite, “Oh, it’s nice,” or “Great writing!” frustrated you as a writer? What was nice about it? Why was the writing great? How can it be better?

But the ultimate in writing hell is wishy-washy, general negative criticism. “I don’t know, you can do better than this,” or “I didn’t really feel the writing,” or quite simply, “This sucks.” The worse is usually an awkward silence, which makes you prey to all the my-writing-sucks demons who can come up with a million and three terrible possibilities of what that silence meant.

Whether you hear this kind of criticism from well-meaning friends/mentors/teachers/readers, or from your inner voice, learn to recognize it for what it is: the whiny-voiced, wheedling guy with greasy hair who deserves to die. You can usually do this by identifying the accompanying symptoms:

– a sudden hatred of your writing

– a sense of overwhelming despair

– deep seated fear that you “will never make it”

– extreme reluctance to write

– recurring wish to stop now before you get laughed out of the writing world and give up

If you can’t get yourself to commit murder and cringe at the thought of blood, then learn to take that advice…

…and throw it out the window. Ignore everyone and just write.

The best lesson a writer can learn is how to block, throw out, kill, or otherwise destroy any of this kind of destructive criticism.

The second best lesson a writer can learn is how to recognize and deal with that elusive creature: constructive criticism. But that’s another topic for another day.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Kill the critic… (Crimes for writers to commit – Part 1)

  1. GOD…. Marwa. it seems you have some kind of psychic powers nowadays.
    For this one you’ll deserve a big pack of bimbos, Gersey, and a huge jar of Nutella (No one can ever say No to that):))

    You know, I’ve left my work last October and have been roaming around trying not to write anything mainly in English, so as not to be mocked or criticized.
    I had the chance to write at many places, but turned everything down and now living in a state of what’s called (writers freeze)… can’t stand to be told (it’s good, but you can do better), coz for me that’s the same as (sucks).
    That guy with greasy hair became totally in charge of everything, I think I’ve just lost my touch, lack any kind of self-esteem, and simply don’t have the talent or maybe the guts to go through that path again, coz criticism in that field (specially from the people who know me) is merciless.
    My grammar and vocabulary have never been that bad since school, so as my ambition now to write anything at all.

    I’ve decided some days ago that I’ll keep my writings a hobby, and try to earn a living elsewhere, until further notification, motivation, or even an inspiration and gain of trust.

    Killing that man won’t be that easy now after all.
    waiting for the second part:)

    • Marwa Elnaggar

      Let’s do this together ya Mariam. I completely get what you’re saying. But let me tell you, you’ve inspired another blog post on writer’s freeze, so I’ll share all that chocolate with you! Expect the post tomorrow!

  2. Pingback: Defrosting for writers « Writer, Reader, Chocolate Eater

  3. Pingback: Break the rules (Crimes for writers to commit – Part 2) « Writer, Reader, Chocolate Eater

  4. Safia.

    I came by your blog today morning,and I must say it has inspired me greatly.Thanks!;-)It has been a lovely morning today:-)

    • Marwa Elnaggar

      You just made my day, Safia! Hope to see you here regularly. P.S. I’m just curious, how did you find out about my blog?

  5. Safia.

    :-)Happy to read that marwa.I came by your blog through the IW group,which I too am a member of.:-)

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