Now before anyone gets upset that this is going to be an article decrying parents or parenting skills I would like to clarify that that’s exactly what is it. However I’m not talking about those who are parents in the traditional sense. This article is for those who use the excuse of their writing being like their children and because of that stance refuse to listen or accept constructive criticism in any form. Of course many of these precious babies are neglected of necessary care. Certainly if you left a baby in a loaded diaper and refused to do anything to change it you’d be considered a neglectful parent and rightly so.
It’s the same with writers.
If your writing needs to be changed or shall we say edited because of typos, sentence structure issues or any of the many writing issues that can occur, what is better, being a neglectful writer who refuses to make those necessary changes or caring enough about your work that you’re willing to take an honest look at it and do what you can to help it grown and improve?
True no parent – the traditional type or the writer type – wants to hear what’s wrong with their children; especially if they don’t see any wrong themselves, but sometimes that is exactly what needs to happen. Just as sometimes parents have to endure and attend parent/teacher meetings or meetings with counselors and therapists, writers also need to learn how to accept constructive criticism.
I’m not saying this is easy nor am I saying that I haven’t fallen into the bad parent bit myself at times. We do fall in love with our writing because it is our baby. Only a writer knows how much effort goes into their work as they watch their stories, poems, novels and whatever else grows from an idea into completed projects. It’s very much the same as it is with parents who give birth to children and put a lot of effort into giving them care and love so that they can grow up and mature.
Of course this is the dividing line between good parenting and bad.
Good parents nurture their children. They provide them with love, but also discipline because they want their children to become good people when they grow up. This isn’t an easy thing since in teaching these vital life lessons to their children, parents have to look at their children’s faults, strengths and weaknesses with love and honesty. Sometimes in this pursuit parents have to take on unsentimental roles because it’s what best for their children.
Writers have a relationship that is very similar to that with their work. In order for their work to become as good as it can be they need to be able to look at it honestly and without sentiment. Sometimes another pair of eyes can see things that they don’t. I know that because I am oftentimes better at editing others work than my own so I’m grateful when others reciprocate their editing abilities to me.
The problem is that many writers don’t appreciate such help. They use the excuse of their work being their baby as if the rest of us haven’t any idea of the concept. Perhaps I’m wrong but when someone uses that excuse to me, who as a fellow writer clearly understands the relationship that we all have with our writing, I feel as if they are saying that they care more about their work than I do. Well I do care about my writing and if my writing needs to be edited I care enough about to edit it and not whine.
Just as a caring parent realizes that they have to work with their children to help them become well-behaved, a writer has to work on their writing to ensure that it is well-written and polished.
Editing is a discipline. It takes discipline and commitment and yes, love to work at your writing. When I see other writers who have been willing to make the necessary sacrifices to their work it makes me appreciate them and their work all the more. However the same cannot be said for those who clearly aren’t willing to make those sacrifices. True, we all make mistakes. There is no such thing as perfect writer or perfect writing, but there is a difference between refusing to work at your writing and not. I am in the second category. I am a good parent to my writing.
So the question is what kind of parent to your writing are you going to be? It really doesn’t matter what the answer because you’re the only one who will know it, but just the same it’s a good question that all writers need to ask themselves.
No one sets out to be a bad writer just as no one sets out to be bad parent.
Just as no parent wants to be known as neglectful or uncaring of their children, no writer wants to be known as someone who writes things that are filled with typos, grammar, structural, bad plots and storylines or any of the many issues that often need correcting and editing. If this happens by mistake that’s one thing. There is no such thing as writer who doesn’t make mistakes, but if there is a refusal to edit or listen when others point out mistakes then you’re on the road to becoming a bad writer.
It doesn’t matter how much talent you have or how original your ideas are, if you don’t discipline yourself to edit your work or learn how to take constructive criticism then you will never grow as a writer. Your babies will be neglected and never become the fine pieces of work that they could be.
So the answer to my question is up to you and up to your own personal commitment as a writer. If all you want is praise on social sites from fans that don’t care about how good your work is as much as they care about scoring points or ranking then that answer is pretty clear. However if you want to grow as a writer and create works that you can be proud of that are worthy of publication then that answer is pretty clear as well.
That is what I hope for myself, and that is why I work at my writing. Do I think I’m the best thing out there? Absolutely not, but do I think that I’m better than I was when I first started writing, yes indeed. I love my children and I discipline them. It’s not easy but the effort is well worth it. As far as my writing goes I am a good parent and my children are disciplined, well-mannered and loved.