Accept The Body Blow

Panelist asks question of wannabe children’s book author:

–Want to guess how many times my second novel got rejected?
–Twenty four.
–Oh crap.

Yep. Nothing is easy. Not in screenplays, poetry, or children’s book authoring. I went to a children’s book writers conference this weekend. Interestingly, it was all women. Wish I had known this when I was single. Well, not all women… only about 97%. They were friendly, welcoming to a newbie, and they could write.

Here’s my thought, that I gleaned from the panelists as well as the writers I got to know. You have to be open to criticism. You have to. Just because you wrote it, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. I’ve been writing screenplays for forever, but I’ve never written a children’s book. Of course, I thought mine was perfect… it wasn’t.

If you ask for criticism, be ready to listen. Otherwise, don’t waste the other guy’s time.

The organization, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, or SCBWI, helps you find a critique group… you read their work, they read yours. Do this if you’re a screenwriter. Form a group. Meet regularly. Help each other out. Finding the flaws in someone else’s work is easy, but it also teaches you to find the ones in yours. And, other people’s opinions will help you work. Guaranteed.

I have kept only two New Year’s Resolutions. “Walk out of the movie the first time you think you should” and “If you ask for advice, take it.” You are asking someone who knows more than you do for their opinion on your work. Why would you then suddenly decide you know more than they do, and ignore the advice they have taken the time to formulate for you?

If I’m paid to crit a screenplay, I don’t care if the writers listen or not. It’s their money and they bought my time… but if you ask someone to read your stuff for free… listen!

Don’t resist the critique you have asked for. Don’t bristle when they say it’s not perfect… They won’t want to help you a second time. Know it’s normal, however, to WANT to stand up and shout that they don’t understand the genius you have laid upon the world… just don’t do it. Resist the temptation to raise your hackles. Breathe deep and imagine they are NOT swinging a great Conan-size bloody battle axe at your head… take notes and become a better writer.


1 Comment

Filed under Criticism, Writing Process

One response to “Accept The Body Blow

  1. Brett in Manhattan

    From my experience, groups tend to attract people who are more in love with the idea of being a writer than the writing, itself.

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