Critiques on your work shouldn’t manifest in your mind as bruises. The redlines may feel like cuts against your writing. The comments may seem like scars. These are just your insecurities. Those same insecurities will coax you into skipping social events or embarrass you with memories of mistakes. Rather than silencing that internal critic of yours, calm yourself down, then get in that document, familiarize yourself with the edits, make the changes, and then proceed.
Most of those cuts and bruises won’t actually hurt you.
I spent only maybe three hours writing an essay I sent along for review. I did it mainly to get my name out there than through any degree of passion, and even with that supposed apathy, it still took too long to dig into the edits. It’s one thing having a computer with an automatic spelling or grammar checker review your work and tell you that you spelled a word wrong or used a weird verb tense.
It’s quite another having a person review your work.
You don’t need to digest every edit all at once. I’m writing this essay you’re reading while reviewing the first-round edits, mainly to capture this insecurity experience. I’ve had editors review my writing before, but maybe I’m requiring more internal fortitude this time around because the material within this essay is outside my comfort zone? Maybe it’s because this essay could actually help my career?
This kind of thinking will only result in bruises, cuts, and scars.
That thinking attaches too much meaning to the work. I began learning this in college, where I hung out with artists in an oekaki board that would draw impressive works of art in 16 colors, and like sand mandalas, before promptly clearing the old to work on the new. Similarly, while I can celebrate the draft of the essay I sent along for review, I shouldn’t let that attachment stop the essay’s progress.
I have four edits left to work into the piece.
The thing about criticism is that the spelling or grammar corrections never really bother us, or me at least, unless the typo is substantial enough. It’s when we think we’re communicating one thing and it gets misinterpreted. Then we have to face certain questions: what if this sentence or paragraph or essay doesn’t make as much sense as I thought it did while I was writing it?
Those are difficult realizations that try even the best of us.
Now that the essay is in its second draft, I feel relieved, and a little embarrassed. None of the changes radically challenged the content. Nothing was a bruise, cut, or scar. Quite the opposite: everything changed added to the writing, strengthened the weak points, or overall, made it better. Why, then, do we fear such criticism? Is it because growing pains are uncomfortable? Do we want our egos stroked?
I’m not sure there are easy answers here.
If there were, we wouldn’t struggle with criticism from people.
It’d be like spell checkers.