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signI want to start this post by saying thank you to all those published authors out there. You did it. You’re nothing short of amazing because it’s not easy.

I’ve spent the week dealing with several major hurdles along my journey to publish. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, with more down’s than up’s but I’ve emerged from it with some excellent weapons in my arsenal.

A writer’s journey is a lonely one and we only have ourselves to blame if we screw up. Last week I learnt all about those screw ups and how to deal with them (or not to deal with them, as the case my be).

By far, the most difficult part of my journey so far has been dealing with criticism. Everything was fine and dandy when I wrote stories for myself and then tossed them in the drawer never to be seen by outside eyes. But as soon as I decided to publish, I opened the door to criticism and now there’s no going back.

I’ve never been very good at dealing with criticism. I’m a 5″1′ red-head with a heady concoction of Irish, Gypsy and Jewish blood in my veins. When faced with criticism I tend to dig my heels in and get my claws out. This is a fault of mine, and one that I’ve never really been bothered to master. However, criticism, when it’s valid, is gold dust and to ignore it would be a foolish thing to do.

I’ve realised, when facing criticism there are three choices:

  • Ignore it
  • Buckle under it
  • Learn from it

At the beginning of last week I was lucky enough to receive some praise. Yay, I thought, I can do this. Not long after, the criticism came and boy did it hurt. But I’ve been writing for years, that means I know what I’m doing, right? Nope. It means I’ve been putting words on a piece of paper for years. Anyone can do that. Publishing something worth reading is a whole different ball game.

I was naive if I thought this journey wouldn’t be painful in places, but all was not lost, criticism can be kind. Initially, my claws came out, I reacted out of instinct to protect my work. It was only after slinking off to lick my wounds that the harsh words began to ring true. I could have ignored it. I could have buckled under it and let it beat me (it crossed my mind) but I did the only sensible thing and learnt from it. I took a step back, tried to look at the overall picture objectively and you know what, the criticism was bang on the money. I was wrong.

So, when it comes to criticism I’ve come to realise the following:

Criticism is subjective (Unless it’s a professional opinion).

Not all criticism is valid (You know your work better than anyone else).

It’s unlikely to be personal (Don’t let it beat you down).

Ignore it & nobody wins.

I want my work to be the best it can be. If that means swallowing my pride, so be it. I may have stumbled at the first hurdle, but I got back up again.

As writers we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and continue on our path. Maybe a little bruised, but with renewed determination in our eyes. Any journey worth doing isn’t going to be easy.