As a writer, your best friend is someone who will tell you that your work sucks, and why.
In my experience, having a friend, colleague, or fellow writer(s) who aren’t afraid to punch you in the gut is one of the most valuable tools in the writer’s tool kit.
When I finish a project, or on rare occasions allow people to read a work in progress, there are people lining up who want to help out, provide some feedback and such. A nice thought, but it’s absolute bullshit.
Most people lack either the critical eye to judge your work, or the heart to tell you it fucking sucks. And let’s face it, the first draft of anything is shit (thanks, Mr. Hemingway!).
Worse still are people who just say ‘I didn’t like it’. I don’t give two shits about opinion, not everyone is going to like it - what I need to know is why - and the majority of people can’t articulate this.
Over time, I’ve found several people who will happily sit down and talk through their criticisms with me, and I’ve been lucky enough to find good writers groups who will help with a table read (William Goldman calls a table read 'the most important part of the process’ in film production - this applies to novels too, hearing your work read aloud is vital) and then share their thoughts on the plot, pacing, structure and prose.
Believing your own hype is easy. You’re in love with your newly-finished work and you want others to love it too. Find someone to ground you, and you’ll find an invaluable tool that is as important as the ability to put the words on the page.
Have you ever been told your work sucks? Leave a comment…