Looping Back

So I had a student last night in Creative Writing who said somethig like writing should never be critiqued, nobody should ever say, why don’t you change this or work on that, even if the poem is “blah,blah,blah.” The blah part is an exact quote. Nobody should even think about suggesting changing a single blah.

I don’t agree with that, we grow as writers when we have the courage and energy to revise, but I know what he means. Sometimes writing feels like a holy experience and so every word written has a significance that defies revision, defies critique. Which is fine, for a minute. Or an hour. Or a day.

But comes the time when, particularly if you want to write professionally, you have to look at your pearls with an editor’s eye. You might even have to kill your darlings. Because most writing can be made better with a little time and effort.

Which is why this morning I looped back to what I wrote yesterday and revised it. And guess what? It’s better now.


  1. Criticism is tough to take, and tough to give. So much depends on the spirit in which it’s offered, as well as where the writer is on his/her particular path. I try to be very careful with very new writers, as so many have been discouraged by insensitive teachers. But when the student is ready, helpful criticism can open the doors to better work or even publication.

    That said, I never show my own work until it’s really ready. I take it through several drafts and revisions, as you noted. At that point, I welcome opinions, but I know that my editors will have the final say.


  2. Often I find the people most hostile to criticism in the moment (occasionally myself) are the ones who would, if they would only sweat out their vanity or fear or whatever, benefit most acutely from it. I received once advice that the thing to which you have the strongest aversion is often the last stronghold of the internal/external forces bent on preventing your doing something wonderful.


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