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The Impact of Criticism on a Writer

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“Your choice of vocabulary is certainly very...peculiar.”
“I’m not sure if these sentence structures help to truly communicate the point that you are trying to convey.”
“Although your style of writing may have worked well for you in other classes, it just isn’t what I’m looking for in my assignments.”


These comments, when standing alone, are not severely impactful to me. As a writer, you are bound to face criticism in some form or another. Even when you spend days, weeks, or, in some cases, months sitting in front of a screen and typing until it feels like your keyboard has become an actual part of you, there will always be someone who doesn’t appreciate what you put into your work. What made comments like these affect me one day, however, was the person from whom I was receiving them. These remarks, among numerous others that were similar to them, were given to me by an English teacher, a teacher of a subject at which I excelled throughout my entire life until that point. Because she possessed the title that she did, her words regarding my writing felt like physical attacks against me, and they consumed my thoughts whenever I would begin to write again.


My teacher gave her initial comments of this nature following my submission of my very first paper that I completed for her class. I had written that paper with the same rigor and determination as I did with all of my work prior to it, but she declared that its content and overall flow seemed noticeably unnatural and odd. At this time, although her words concerned me, I figured that, because my writing was received well by others in the past, I would soon be able to change this teacher’s feelings toward it. This attitude of mine prompted me to try harder than ever on the next paper that I wrote for her. I toiled in the making of it for hours on end, being as analytical as possible of every specific detail during the process. Nevertheless, all of the effort I put into it seemed to be meaningless when I received her feedback the second time. Despite the fact that I thought I had done better, she once again criticized nearly every aspect of my paper. This unfortunate series of events continued to occur throughout the course of the school year, and it caused me to feel greatly discouraged from ever pursuing a career related to writing.


Toward the end of the school year, however, I eventually came to the realization that I simply could not allow my passion for writing to dull due to the comments of one individual. Being able to write well allows me to express myself in ways that I feel I cannot achieve in other forms of communication, and that is why this skill remained so valuable to me. I reminded myself that I had experienced success as a writer in the past and must, therefore, have the potential to see more success in the future, regardless of the words of my English teacher. In this situation, I needed to learn to see only the criticism itself rather than the person behind those statements, and I believe that my discovery aided in strengthening me as an overall writer. Although a part of me already knew this, this event also further proved to me that it is not the end of the world if one single person dislikes your work. Whether it be in relation to writing or any other skill, encountering criticism does not mean that you are terrible at what you like to do. Despite the harsh comments of my former teacher, I have continued to attempt to write to the best of my ability, and I acknowledge that these very comments were a new source of motivation for me to embrace this important mindset.






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