Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fighting the Insecurities Bred by Critiques by S. Dionne Moore

Have I ever mentioned the insecurities that go along with being a writer? In the first stages of writing a manuscript you believe that your every word is your legacy to the world. Beautiful. A perfectly planted seed ready to sprout into a literary oak that will endure for generations.

And then you wake up.

The problem with writing for a living is that you have to get used to something we don't usually seek out. Criticism. When others critique your work you become defensive and insecurities are stirred. Getting to the point where they don’t destroy you takes time. But with time you come to realize too that the insights and tips from other writers are making you grow as a writer. 

When someone encourages you to have your manuscript read by a person other than your mother, or your family, they are trying to push you out of a comfort zone. Your family, because they love you, will often have a hard time telling you that your work is anything less than stellar. But it is necessary to show your work to people who don't know you. Strangers. Those that know something about writing or enjoy reading will be your best critiques--and often your harshest. Instead of dismissing the hard words and suggestions these readers might make, seriously consider what they are telling you. If your story doesn't engage them, you just might need to cut that first chapter of backstory. If they got bored in the middle of the book, then you may need to reexamine the pacing of the story or make sure your goals, motivations and conflicts aren't getting lost in the mix of dialogue and narrative. 

At some point we all have to face our insecurities, whether on a personal level or professionally. Tough crits don’t bother me anymore because I recognize their value. Comparing myself with other authors is not something I allow myself to dabble in for long, understanding that we each have different styles and approaches. These elements are what help make our writing unique. The very worst thing you can do as a writer is coddle your insecurities. They will destroy the seed of your career before the it ever has a chance to put out its first leaves. 

S. Dionne Moore resides in Cumberland Valley with her husband of 23 years. An avid lover of history, it just makes sense for her to write historical romance. Her latest book, Promise Brides, is set in various locations within Pennsylvania, including Johnstown, Greencastle/Mercersburg and Gettysburg, and includes the 2011 and 2012 Carol Award  finalists, Promise of Tomorrow and Promise of Time. Her cozy mystery, Polly Dent Loses Grip was a 2010 Carol Award Finalist.


  1. Insightful article, Sandra. Writers never really get used to criticism until they realize how helpful it can be. We can't grow in our craft without it. The problem is with unnecessarily hurtful critiques or reader reviews. Writers need tender hearts and tough hides!

  2. Great post Sandy. I've learned to let myself hurt for just a little bit by critiques then I can go back and look at them with different
    glasses and see where I can learn and grow.
    Deborah Malone
    "Death in Dahlonega"

  3. Getting pruned can be painful - but the results are worthwhile. Thanks for the great tips!

    ~Nancy Jill Thames

  4. The first real critique I got really upset me. I cried for a week. It didn't help that the person, although brutal but not malicious, was absolutely right. It was a novel I wrote before The Reboot Files. It was one of the reasons I decided to switch over to novellas because I couldn't keep the novel interesting due to the length. I may try to release it someday because I made major rewrites. Maybe.