As any successful author knows, feedback is the key to quality.
I’ll be perfectly honest here. I struggle to take feedback well. Criticism, even constructive criticism, makes me cringe. I have always had a very thin skin. I’m easily hurt, and my reactions have cheated me out of some very valuable lessons. When I hear something I don’t like, and I feel hurt because of it, I put up a mental wall. Information starts bouncing off as I close my mental doors. I’m not interested in input. Instead, I’m focusing on how much I feel hurt and how I can make it stop.
This has been disastrous for me. I’ve said really nasty things to people because I’ve been so desperate to stop them from hurting me, even when they weren’t really doing that. It’s never ended well. Then, instead of only one of us feeling hurt, then both of us feel hurt, and the relationship is seriously damaged, all because I hadn’t made the little adjustment needed.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Nobody has to feel hurt. Here’s how I’ve gotten around this over-sensitivity, so that I’ve been able to accept the valuable information that feedback gives. My trick is to shift my focus. Instead of thinking “This person is trying to tear me down,” I think “This person and I are trying to improve this book together.”
In short, I depersonalize. I take the information as important information that I can use to make things better. I give up the idea that my work is perfect in every way from the very start, no one’s work ever is. Editing is a good, normal part of the writing process. I knew a person who refused to change a single line of his work. His writing was terrible! To this day he hasn’t sold a single copy. Don’t be like him.
Feedback is valuable. Embrace it. Whether you take the advice or not, think about it, really consider it. It can be frustrating to edit your book over and over, but it doesn’t have to hurt emotionally. This simple mental shift takes practice to master, but you will have plenty of chances to do so. In the end, you’ll have a book to be proud of.