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America's Next Author
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America's Next Author is the first real social writing contest. Winners will be chosen based on a unique combination of votes from readers and publishing industry experts.

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How To Deal With Writing Criticism

October 25th, 2012 | Avoiding criticism is a great way to avoid improving as a writer. It's necessary to get feedback from others in order to learn and improve your writing.

Learn From Criticism

"This review is so horrible. I cannot believe someone would write that about the story I just put so much of myself into."

Many writers try to avoid criticism because they see it as a reflection of their deficiencies or as a personal attack. Nobody likes to have their faults pointed out to them! But each time we avoid criticism, we miss an opportunity for improvement.

If you want to improve as a writer, it's necessary to seek out criticism instead of avoid it. Facing the difficult things in life is especially necessary for an art like writing. Sharing your writing and getting feedback from others is the only way you can objectively examine your work. As the creator of your story or novel, it's nearly impossible to see all of its potential problems on your own. Even your second draft isn't ready to be submitted to a contest or publication until it's been critiqued by someone other than yourself.

It does take courage to show your writing to others. What if they hate it? What if they find a thousand things wrong with it? What if they don't even care enough to give you any real feedback? These are real risks, but they are necessary. Constructive criticism is one of the best ways that you can learn and grow as a writer.

America's Next Author is helping you by offering a public platform for your story. People outside your usual circle of friends and family will read it, and feedback from strangers is the best measure of quality because they won't try to please you or worry about how you feel. Yes, that can be difficult to take, but the small dent to your ego will be offset by the potential benefit of becoming a much better writer!

Remember that even famous authors started the same way most writers do -- typing alone at the dinner table. Most authors spend years learning the craft of writing and improving until they're good enough to write something that will be accepted for publication. Opening yourself up to criticism will help you become more skilled as a writer and take your writing to the next level.

Read Between the Lines

"Listen" closely to the reviews that you get. You might be able to find useful information even if it's hidden in an angry tirade. Return to your computer after crying, and re-read the review in a calmer state of mind. Can you see where this person is coming from when you look at your story again? Sometimes after you strip away the emotional words you'll find some feedback that you can actually use.

More often, you'll get reviews that aren't so harsh and bring up valid points. These critics are not your opponents -- they're giving you real information that will help you. Assess their feedback for yourself and decide whether you agree with it. You might even end up wondering why you didn't see the problem before.

Take It With a Grain of Salt

Sometimes it's obvious that a review came from a person who is being negative about something unrelated to your writing. A review like "I can't believe this story is ranked so high in America's Next Author" could have been written by someone upset that their own story isn't ranked as highly. If person writes nothing other than "Boring!" he or she hasn't bothered to take write a real review, and you shouldn't be bothered either. And you'll be pleased to know that our Author Ranking system knows how to ignore these sloppy reviews, too!

In other cases, a reviewer will be outraged by a character or situation in your story that doesn't line up with his or her own personal values. You can take this as a sign that you've done your job as a writer and challenged readers enough to trigger a response.

All Artwork Isn't Enjoyed By All People

As the saying goes, "You can't please all the people all the time." Artwork in any form, whether writing, painting, photography, or sculpture, will be appreciated by some people but not by others. That has nothing to do with you as a person. It's only about people's personal taste. You wouldn't get upset if someone told you they didn't like spaghetti, so don't worry if they don't like a particular type of story, either.

Try not to worry about critics as you write. Being preoccupied with worry about negative reviews will be very counter-productive and distracting. Many well-established authors have advised that it's best to write for yourself. After that, revise and edit with some help from your critics. When you're finished you'll know that you did the best you could.

TIPS

1. Place more value on feedback from someone who writes well.

2. Place more value on feedback from an avid reader.

3. Ask other writers/readers whether they agree with the feedback you received.

4. Write without thinking about future criticism, but plan to revise and edit your work.

5. If you get upset, take a break and return to the review later.

6. Remember that there are as many opinions as there are people.

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America's Next Author is the first social writing contest. Friends, family, fans and publishing industry experts will read authors' submissions and nominate their favorite to be America's next major author. Everyone can participate!