Workshopping: My Personal Hell

Don’t get me wrong.  The process of workshopping is infinitely valuable and I am utterly and totally appreciative of all the effort others are putting into reading and reviewing my work.  But emotionally?  I am not cut out of this level of focus and analysis!

I admit – I am not a person who takes criticism well.  I take it personally.  Always have and probably, despite more and more criticism coming my way, always will.  I tie it to being a people pleaser – again, always have been and probably always will!  So I take criticism hard and my first instinct is always to run away somewhere and cry (which is bad enough when I’m at home – it’s a definite no-no in the work environment!)

The thing is, if I want to be an actual-writer then I’m going to have to learn to take the criticism.  I was lucky enough to be part of a masterclass with Denise Mina at the university and she talked about the feelings of never being good enough.  She said, even when you’re a bestselling author, with loads of books to your name, you still feel like that. Which was both reassuring and terrifying!  I’m not sure I’m ready to cope with that constant level of self-doubt and disbelief.  I always thought being a teacher left me open to a high-degree of scrutiny but here’s something altogether different.  And public!

So, if I can’t handle the workshopping, how on earth am I going to cope with the editing and the public feedback on my work?  Especially because I’m a very human sufferer of the whole ‘ignore the good, focus on the bad’ when it comes to feedback!  So my focus over the next few weeks is embracing the feedback by following these nifty three steps:

  1. Understanding that my colleagues are coming from a point of love – they are helping me, not putting me down.
  2. Acknowledging that it is not possible to please everyone – we’re all different readers and we all like different things – just because somebody doesn’t like one bit doesn’t mean you should chuck it out.
  3. Believe in myself – I’m on the course because people believe in me, so it’s about time I believed in myself.  And that sometimes means saying ‘I disagree with what you’ve said there because…’  It’s my book.  And ultimately, however much help others offer me, it’s down to me to make it or break it!

In the words of the meerkats, ‘Simples!’  So has anybody else got any useful tips for surviving that horrible feeling and making the most of workshopping?

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