A method of coping with feelings

by look i have opinions

“I can have kind of a thin skin when it comes to critique. I mean, I’m not the worst in the world. I’ve met plenty of writers who are utterly devastated by critique, in a way that’s rather unattractive and unproductive. But I’m also not the best. I get wounded by criticism of my manuscripts. And the wounds tend to be even worse when they’re by people whom I respect as readers.

“For a long time I struggled against this. I know it’s not the right way to be, so I soldiered through, trying to force myself to not feel resentful or angry when I get critique. But that was a losing battle. No matter how much I told myself that I ought not to feel bad about critique—they were critiquing the manuscript and not the person—it never really worked. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that some people are just more sensitive to this sort of thing than others.

“So I’ve evolved a different way of dealing with it. Nowadays when I get an edit letter or a critique, I read it through once and then I put it away for awhile. During that time I often do some brooding  and feel bad. Then I go back, a few weeks later, and read through everything more carefully. At this point, I usually note that it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it was. In my mind, I’d turned the critique into something harmful and devastating—an indictment of the core of the work. But in reality it was just some comments on how it could be better.

“The key here is time and space. I try to allow myself to feel insecure and wounded. Going through workshop comments is the one part of my writing process that I do without turning off the internet. I go through a few  comments and then I browse Facebook. I go through a few more, and then I browse Facebook some more. I count up the total number of comments, and then I allow myself to just go through a fraction of them on each day. The amount of time and space that I devote to processing the comments is absurd, but it’s what I need.”

—Rahul Kanakia (x)

This is rather brilliant. I admire Kanakia’s willingness to admit that he can’t control his feelings, and to find a way to work around them, even though it forces him to work more slowly. I identify with his feeling that this is “absurd,” too.

I have a much thicker skin when it comes to critiques of my writing—most of the time, anyway—but in other areas of life I might need a process like this one.

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