Monday, May 17, 2010

Humility in Writing

By Ali Cross

Humility is practiced at every turn in your quest to be a published author.

You must be willing to accept the guidance and direction of others more experienced and knowledgeable than you, whether in workshops or classes, or in communicating with agents and/or publishers. Despite how much you think you know, it’s rarely a wise decision to discount the value of lessons taught by those who do know.

A writer has to accept criticism. Critique groups can be a minefield of hurt feelings if you don’t check your pride at the door. You must be willing to sit and listen, and accept that your critique partners may be right. Later, you might decide they aren’t, in fact, right, or that they’re only partially right, but take your time before ignoring everything your crit partners said.

It’s my personal opinion that the more willing you are to approach your work with humility, accepting the help of others along the way and adjusting your work accordingly, the more likely you’ll be to produce a product that is capable of being sold and claiming a place on a bookstore shelf.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your integrity, or that of your story, just because other people have suggested certain changes. In the end, it’s your work and you must be the one responsible for it. Just be willing to look at your work with humility, accepting that sometimes your words and phrases could be improved.

A writer also has to be humble enough not to let harsh criticism, from a family member, crit partner, agent, or reviewer, derail them in their journey to success. You have to accept that not everyone is going to love your work, and probably no one is going to feel as passionate about it as you do.

And that’s exactly what needs to go hand in hand with humility—self-awareness. Know who you are and what you hope to achieve with your story—then be humble. Do your best, then let others help you on your way.


Krista said...

It's a hard lesson to learn, but it's so true! Thanks, Ali.

Carolyn V. said...

I agree. This is very true. I'm grateful that I have people to help me, but boy, it can be humbling. =)

Evelyn Campbell Curtis said...

I have a blog that I have been writing articles and such on. One of my brothers has been my biggest critic, yet at the same time, one of my biggest supports. He tells me how it is, and gives me suggestions. It is easy for me to let the defense jump in... but I have to remember that he really does want me to succeed.
This a lesson I am learning right now. Thanks for the reminder that I am not the only one! :)

Angie said...

Great post, Ali. I love your thoughts on humility. You're right that it is so important.

L.T. Elliot said...

An awesome post, Ali. I hope I can be both humble and helpful in my writing career.