I love critique.

I love it very much.

Paying attention to expert opinions from fellow writers has been invaluable to my growth.  Implementing suggestions that astronomically improve the quality of my work is one of my greatest joys.

However, there are times when I do not know what to do with the guidance. I struggle when the advice makes tactical sense, but does not align to the with my writing style. If you are a writer, you may struggle with this as well. 

With this article, I’ve made the choice ridiculously simple. You just need to answer these three questions:

  1. Who is your audience?

Identify and understand who will be reading your work and what their expectations are. Are they loyal readers of your blog who are accustomed to you writing a certain way? Professional keyboard warriors dedicated to critiquing strangers online? Or judges of a competition you’re entering?

Look away from yourself and consider the needs of your audience. From my experience as an editor, most suggestions are usually made with your ideal audience in mind. So, when you’re considering whether or not to accept a suggestion, think about how that suggestion helps you to meet their needs and preferences. 

  1. What is the purpose of your work?

Define the main goal you want to achieve with your writing. Are you aiming to inform, persuade, or share a personal experience? 

Consider if accepting that suggestion will align your writing with your intended objectives. If you want that particular piece of writing to anger or provoke the audience, then you have no need for suggestions on how to make your readers feel warm and cosy. This doesn’t mean the suggestions are bad, they’re just not in line with your message.    

  1. How does the change impact your piece?

Implement the change anyway and read through your work. You can’t always tell right away if a suggestion would really be good for your work or not. So, it pays to implement the change anyway, just to see if it helps.

Unbiasedly consider if it enhances the piece without compromising too much of your overall style and if the improvement is worth sacrificing your style for. Who knows? You might end up liking it so much you incorporate the lessons learned into your style and obtain permanent growth in the process. 

CASE STUDY: This is a suggestion I got from my first blog post. ‘On the wine-coloured sofa,’ which is about a 20-year-old woman’s conversation with her therapist; check it out here.

The penultimate line reads: Me and my questions look away. Suggested Change: I look away, my questions unanswered.

I struggled with this decision because the suggested change worked perfectly and offered more clarity, but at the same time, I liked the metaphor in my original use. The image in my mind, as I wrote, was of her questions poised at the tip of her tongue as she looked away rather than ask them.

  1. Who is my audience? This was the first post for my blog and my audience was me and my possible employers. So, it was important to me that this article was top-notch and I worked extremely hard on it. Because of this, I viewed the feedback I got through the lens of a more experienced writer and what they would be impressed with. The suggestion won.

  1. What is the purpose of my work? The purpose of this work was to impress possible employers and increase my skill level through intensive self-editing. Since I would be posting on my blog long-term, it didn’t make sense to ignore my personal style since it would eventually shine through in future posts. The original won.

  1. How does the change impact my piece? I implemented the suggestion and read through the piece. I preferred the original.

Two to one. And the winner is…Read the article to find out😜.

The writer’s journey requires achieving a balance between accepting valuable feedback for growth and staying true to one’s unique style. 

So, grow, but don’t forget to be authentic.

Good luck, fellow writer!

A WRITER'S GUIDE TO BLENDING CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM WITH YOUR UNIQUE STYLE written by Ewaoluwa (Krtistina) Aderemi in association with Beauty and the Beast Publishing. Photo courtesy of Ewaoluwa (Krtistina) Aderemi

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