Everyone’s got an opinion, especially your beta readers.
Writing is a lot like baking cookies. You pull out your big silver bowl, and throw in your flour, brandy, vanilla extract, butter, and everything else. You keep stirring it until the batter feels right. Then you throw it in the oven and wait. The timer goes ‘ding,’ you pull them out, and there they are — all golden-brown. Smell that warm sweetness. You scrape one off with a spatula and take the tiniest bite. They’re amazing. You offer them to your friends.
One friend says it’s too dry. One friend asks why you didn’t add oatmeal. One friend says they hate sweet things. One friend can only stomach half a cookie because they’re diabetic. Finally, another friend really likes them, and asks you to pretty please bake a batch for her birthday party on Saturday.
But you thought they were amazing. What do you do? Incorporate every suggestion? Stop making cookies?
When we set pen to paper, or finger to key, we are beginning an act of creation. Ideas seep from our minds to the page. We don’t just put down the plot and the characters, but we add our own vision of how the story unfolds. Our word choice, our sentences, our cadence, our style, and the message of our writing comes out in its own unique way. It’s our baby. We love it, but not everyone will.
When you’re writing, be as true to your story and you vision as you can be. When you’re ready to get readers’ reactions, hand them out to your friends or your family. Some people will love your writing. Some people will get through a chapter or two and then lose interest. Some people will have tons of grammatical corrections, and some will question core aspects of your story. Take feedback with an open mind and a grain of salt.
If your friend is diabetic, your cookies could kill them. If you only write crime novels, you’ll meet people who hate the genre with a burning passion. That doesn’t mean you should stop. You can’t please everyone.
If you have to choose, please yourself first.
“Perfection is the enemy of good.”
“Life is messy. Would that every puzzle piece fell into place, every word was kind, every accident happy, but such is not the case. Life is messy.”
How do you cope with feedback? Leave a comment.