E is for Ego. Check it.

eisforegoE is for Ego

This week I’m approaching this editing series a little differently. This is mostly due to the scrambledbrainitis I’m experiencing. I’m trying to earn my NaNoWriMo 50,000 words badge, and trying to do that while solo-parenting at the same time has been tricky. So this will be brief.

When you’re editing, you have to check your ego. Really. As awesome as you are, you probably need a snap-out-of-it slap now and then to keep you grounded. I think I saw a post on Twitter the other day, about yet another massively successful and usually excellent author’s last book being a real flop. It will happen. Big, fat forkfuls of plump humble pie straight to your mouth. So do your best every stinking time. If it ever gets to the point where you think you can get by without the work, then you probably need to take a break from writing.

There are loads of posts on this, but this writing-relevant post had a lot of good techniques for it: How to Handle Criticism of your Writing.

Personally, my foray into critiques & criticism happened on-the-job. I was a church secretary for a few years. The second a document would leave my computer, the critiques would roll in. And it wasn’t because I was sloppy with my end of things. It’s just part of writing anything. The words aren’t just the writer’s, but the reader’s. Actually, they are more the reader’s possession. That job helped me learn not to take the critiques personally. I simply needed to convey what the entity (in that case, the church I worked for) wished to be communicated. It’s the same for a novel. Novels have something they’re trying to communicate, too.

If you’ve got tips on that, I’m listening. If you’ve got a great Humble Pie a la mot (I think that’s humble pie with a side of words) share it in the comments.

 

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8 thoughts on “E is for Ego. Check it.

  1. Susan F. Craft

    Good reminder. One of the most difficult things for me to do when editing is to cut words that I’ve written that I’m fond of or I thought I did a good job with. Just remember, when you edit something like that, don’t throw it away, keep it in a file of other “wonderful things I’ve written” (tongue in cheek here) that you may want to use for something else later on.

    Reply
    1. dldiener Post author

      I have one of those, too. I need my own secretary to organize those. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. J'nell Ciesielski

    I like to think I can handle the critiquing comments pretty well. After all, many of them are there to help improve our work. But you got me when you said the words are the reader’s possession. That gets my hackles up.

    Reply
    1. dldiener Post author

      It’s that mama bear instinct isn’t it? Swat a hefty paw at whomever is after them. I understand that. You have to be firm about keeping what you know should stay, but once that baby is out there in the world, it will trip and get bumped and sometimes mistreated, but there will be goodness and warmth and those who cherish it, too.

      Reply
  3. Tom Threadgill

    Ah, critiques and edits. As a writer, you desperately want your work to be liked, but you also want to hear the truth when it needs help. Such a traumatic experience!

    Reply
  4. Kathleen Rouser

    It takes time and growth to be able to accept criticism with the right spirit. Ten years ago, it always felt like I’d handed my child over to someone, only to have them tell me it was ugly and I dressed it funny. πŸ˜‰ I’m at the point now, where I want to have critiques to make my writing the best that it can be. It’s a matter of perception and it’s interesting to see how others perceive my writing. However, it’s my desire to be gracious in my critiques and point out also what is done well. Yes, the fragile ego needs a little encouragement too. πŸ˜‰ Including my own!

    Reply
    1. dldiener Post author

      Exactly, Kathleen. When I started learning about critiques it was in the best possible place (this is after the church secretary gig). I was over at a website called FaithWriters and we could submit stories and get critiques and we needed to do the same for others. With very rare exception, the critiques were gentle, but honest. And I learned to deliver mine in the same manner, over time learning how to speak writer πŸ˜‰ (sort of how we all learned “pitchy” from American Idol πŸ™‚ ).
      And even in that gentle pool, I was like a cornered dog at first. *They*just didn’t get it, or understand. Then I learned, if they aren’t getting it, then I didn’t write it that way. And so it began. πŸ™‚

      Reply

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