Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Growing a Thick Skin

Raymond Obstfeld listed growing a thick skin number eight in his "The 10 Commandments of Fiction Writing," (Aug 10, 2010).

I've lost it before when I received an overly personal critique. Just recently a writer did the same for one of my critiques. My irate peer pointed out many fundamental flaws of my character, but I'll summarize my faults with two statements. (1) I was impatient in my crit. (2) I tried to compensate for my impatience with humor.

In a business communication class I used to teach, I stressed Never Apply Humor in Correspondence, because the receiver doesn't have access to your tone, body language…or about seven other mechanics required for humor to work. It can easily come out condescending and derisive at best. (How could I forget this?) I suggest do as I say. Maybe you can make a friend instead of an enemy.

As with any other communication, the receiver isn't in your head—doesn't share your mood. The critiquer must be as affective in getting her point across as the writer is in getting his. Do not shortchange the feedback process.

With my lesson in mind, I still agree with Mr. Obstfeld. It isn't reasonable to expect in this busy world that everyone you communicate with is going to take the time to positively spin their feedback. It's best to have thick skin.

Write Every Day!

Regards, Mac


  1. It's good to have a thick skin, but hard to maintain it sometimes. I think it's important to remember not to take offense at a critique. Which is good advice, though not always easy to apply.

  2. Yep! I agree. I wrote a post back in March about developing a thick skin. At the beginning of my young writing career, I was not used to scathing or harsh comments. Now, ha! I laugh at them. However, I still pay heed to "constructive" criticsim.