Category Archives: Writing Tips

“My Author Journey” Part One: First Fantasy Book Publication (Ash Born)

So, I met up with a writer-friend yesterday (she’s a freelance writer like myself) and she gave me some great advice. It was simple advice, sure, but effective. She said I need to talk about my work more. To shout-out about my achievements. And so, this post is about me shouting-out. Actually, there will be a series of posts about my bragging, because there’s kind of a lot to say…

I’ll start with “Ash Born“. Anyone who has followed my journey or known me for a while should have heard of “Ash Born” at least once. If not, I really have failed it. Ash Born is the first book I ever published, well, it wasn’t always known by this name.

Wind back to 2013, when the book was first released in September, Ash Born was known as “No Secrets“. Yes, I know, this isn’t as cool a title; that’s exactly why I changed it! But back in 2013, I was a mere teenager. I was 18 years old, and I had just finished college and I was meant to be going off to university. For reasons I needn’t go into (for it’s irrelevant), I decided against university at the time.

No Secrets was born when I was about 14 years old. It was a much smaller “book” at the time, and I had only shown it to my mom, my sister, and my book-lover friend at school. My friend loved it and she was the first person to truly give me any confidence in my writing. My cousin’s fiance, at the time, was an English graduate and so he helped to edit the book over some time, too. It was finally becoming something.

Fast forward to when I’m 16, and I have this “book” that I’ve been working on (on and off) for years now. This book was quite obviously something special to me – otherwise, I would have dropped it and moved on to something else long ago, like I had done with all the other stories I’d written since I was about 8 years old. My mom thought it was something special, too, and so our excited little selves decided to pursue publishing.

We had no idea what we were doing, though, naturally. We did very little research, I admit, and were working blind. Blinded by excitement; blinded by the potential of dreams fulfilled, perhaps.

Anyway, after contacting Bloombury (as I’m a Potterhead), we were told that they couldn’t take work that wasn’t represented by an agent and something about me being too young anyway. I don’t fully remember how that went, but we were a little dejected.

Until we found an American publishing house. This publishing house, I won’t say its name, was actually a self-publishing company, where they helped you to publish your book but you had to pay them to do so. I had money from my dad’s inheritance and so I kind of felt like this was his way of supporting my dream from the beyond. And so, we went for it.

It cost less than £1,000 but more than £400, we’ll just say that, and when I look back, I think “oh god! What a fool?” But at the time, as I said, we didn’t know much better and we were just so excited to see my book printed. It took some time, a lot of editing on my part and recruiting my friends’ help, then it was finally ready. I submitted the book, and they designed the interior and asked me to find an image from a set site for the cover and what fonts I wanted, etc.

Then boom! my book was ready.

At the time, in Septemeber 2013, I was in a bad place. My life had taken a turn and it was so sad that my book happened to be published at the same time. This is why when my sister handed me the first copy of my book saying, “here, this will make you happy,” I didn’t feel as happy as I should have.

No Secrets
No Secrets, edition one, first in the Eternity Series

But later, I came to terms with it. I was an author. Self-published or not, young or not, it didn’t matter. I had a physical copy of my book. I had people buying it online. I had actual readers; I even gained a fan! She’s read my books several times over, and owns every edition and book in the Eternity Series! I love you, Michele Woodhouse!


Anyway, the book didn’t sell much. I think there were two big reasons for this. One, I didn’t know how to market it. And two, the paperback was £21. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people willing to spend £21 on a book! It’s offputting. Yes, the eBook was much cheaper, but at the time, people kept saying to me that they wanted the paperback, but couldn’t afford it.

Over the years, I’ve become used to excuses as to why people won’t buy my books. If you’re an author, too, you will go through this. It’s only natural. But I thought to myself, yeah, they’re right. This book isn’t selling, and I need to fix it.

And so, I cancelled my book through that American company and got to work self-publishing it again through Amazon. Amazon is a godsend. It really is. So easy to use; so perfect for budding authors. I believe I was 20 when I republished “No Secrets: Remastered”.

No Secrets: Remastered
No Secrets: Remastered, edition two, first in the Eternity Series

Now, this edition sold a lot better. It was much cheaper, and I was better at marketing it. I made the most of social media, connecting with other authors and fantasy readers.

Twitter S. R. Crawford
Twitter page for @S_ R_Crawford

I even started a marketing campaign where I sought actors to play the roles of my characters, reciting lines from the book. It was so much fun, and definitely something that helped to boost intrigue. People did really like that, as visuals work well. Check out some of the videos below (but bear in mind that this was made in 2016, and the titles and synopsis etc. have since changed…)

However, in 2017, when I was 21, my author-friend said to me that my books (the sequel was out by then, but that will be explained in another post) weren’t working. They didn’t look as good as they could; the titles were rubbish in terms of marketing and catching someone’s eye; and the synopsis was just poor, thus not enticing anyone.

OK, so she wasn’t that harsh with me, but as soon as she said it I knew it was true. I didn’t argue or get sad; instead, I got to work again, this time harder and with more research. This is how the current “Ash Born” came to be. I thank her so much for all the advice she’s given me over the years, and of course for her amazing cover designs on the new editions of the books from the Eternity Series.

The book has since sold a lot better. People are intrigued by the covers and love the titles and synopsis.

Ash Born is 616 pages long and has received many reviews, when taking into account all of the past editions. It is a young adult fantasy, dark fantasy, urban fantasy that has been enjoyed all over the world in the UK, parts of Europe, America, and even Africa! It has been featured in newspapers and I’ve been interviewed about it 3 times.

Colebridge news article about No Secrets
Colebridge news article on No Secrets after first publication

What I learned:

Reading through this, you may think “wow, what a lot of mistakes”. Well, I hope you don’t think that. What I see is a dedicated, excitable young woman chasing after her dream of being an author. And you know what, I am an author. I don’t regret using the American company, because without that “mistake” I may never have had the courage to pursue publishing at all. I may not have used Amazon at all. I probably wouldn’t be writing the book that I’m writing now, with the plan to finally traditionally publish with an agent next year.

Everything happens for a reason, and I’m not ashamed of my journey or the “mistakes” I made to be the writer I am today. Each mistake was a learning curve. Each a new lesson to take onboard and go further.

Each pushed me and tested my passion, but I always got back up and fixed whatever needed fixing. Now that’s the dedication and love I put into all of my writing and editing. Because editing is such a huge part of a book. Writing it is the easy part. All you have to do is put any and all ideas on paper. Editing is where the magic happens. Editing is where the book is truly made.

And with No Secrets/Ash Born, I’ve learned so much and become a better writer and editor, and person in general. I am proud of myself to have done this from the age of 16-21, and I’ve only got more of this tenacity to come in the future.

Ash Born Synopsis:

A Coming of Age Fantasy with a twist…

Three worlds.
Seven species.
One war and one girl to change everything…

Letti Kane has always been an outsider. Perhaps this was why she foolishly fell for the dangerous Kaizen D’Anna at first sight. However, mingling with the D’Anna family will mean discovering the dark secrets of her own. Secrets of which are catching up to Letti’s mother, the infamous Bellemere Kane.

Unknown predators from her mother’s past are forcing Letti into the darkness that exists right under her nose. Once exposed, what will it mean for Letti though? What is her place going to be in this unforgiving world? Scared, betrayed and losing herself along the way, Letti must find her inner strength before it’s too late.

As she’s thrust deeper into these perilous realms, her mother has only one question on her mind: will the inferno of their world and the upcoming war consume Letti altogether, or will she rise from the ashes?

“The world isn’t big enough for all of us.”

Ash Born is a Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy novel filled with mystery, romance and angst.

Check out Ash Born on Goodreads today, and add it to your to-read list!

Or get your copy of the latest edition of Ash Born here.

Check out my author’s site, S.R. Crawford’s site, where you can keep up to date on my published works and any progress with my current WIP.

Ways I’m Trying to Improve My Writing

There are so many different types of writers out there, and they probably have different ways of improving or practicing their craft. I thought I would share with you the ways I am trying to improve my writing and develop personally, too. Here they are:

  • Read every day: duh…I already do this but I’m also expanding my reading list to include more variety and a mix of complexities, too.
  • Write every day: I already kind of do this with being a freelancer and novelist, but I want to write aside from those projects more, too.
  • People watch: seriously, this is great for understanding what people are really like, thus developing more realism in our writing. (Just don’t get caught staring).
  • Experience more: the more you’ve actually experienced firsthand, the more you can write about and be more realistic when you do, too. It’s all well and good to write about marriage, but if you’ve never been married, it may fall short. The same goes for life in Italy, or scuba diving, or fighting someone. Experience more for yourself, and enrich your writing.
  • Be curious: just ask questions, look things up, and find the whys in things. This is good for life and intellect, and therefore it’s good for your writing, too.
  • Develop your vocab: obviously, we use words to write. It’s fine to write using everyday words, and I for one hate the overuse of extravagant words “just cuz”. But knowing a plethora of beautiful and useful words will generally help yourself and your writing even if you never use them. *Ways to develop your vocab: read, read a dictionary, use a thesaurus, use vocab building apps, and speak to intelligent people.
  • Free write: this is where you just write whatever comes into your head and just let it flow; a stream of consciousness, if you like. Or you could find a prompt online and just flow from that. This is great writing practice technique as it helps you to tap into corners of your mind that you didn’t know were there.
  • Analyse: question things, find the answers – be the answers. Whether its a book, film, person, or situation, analyse it. Tear it apart; open it up. What do you find? What does it inspire?
  • Journal: it is good to write about your day or week or thoughts or feelings. It’s good to capture your experience as it will help your mental health, thus making you better equipped to sit and write beautifully; as well as help you to write realistic characters, with similar experiences.
  • Brush up on your grammar: a lot of the time, I actually don’t know if I’m using the right punctuation and grammar in my writing. I go with what I’ve read or what I’ve always known – but that doesn’t mean I’m right. So, find out what’s right in order to be accurate and not confuse anyone.
  • Have intelligent conversations: if we only speak to morons, our minds will be filled with moronic information! I say, speak to a variety of people, but especially seek those intelligent ones amongst us. They will help to give life to new ideas, more vocab, and enlighten you on a topic you knew nothing about – great for your knowledge and writing.
  • Experience a variety of people: as I said, you should experience many kinds of people. We all have certain personalities and I can be tempted to keep to who we know we’ll like, but branching out is so important. I will help you to be able to write all kinds of characters and make them feel real with real motives. Plus, you can learn something from anyone, trust me.
  • Get cultured & travel: whether it’s through people, books, or travel, you need to get cultured. Even if you only write from your own experience, or write about your own country, it doesn’t matter. Learning, in depth, about other cultures will open your mind, and give room to MORE. This is ever so important for life, intellect, and your writing, too. Experience culture and travel and let it enter you, and shape you.
  • Tell stories & hear stories: become a storyteller with your voice, and it will make writing easier for you, too. I’m trying to tell more stories about my experiences or people I know, in order to develop my confidence and my ability to weave an interesting tale. Then, when it comes to writing, it’ll be a piece of cake compared. Also, listen to other people’s stories, too. They have interesting things to say, and you can take note of how they speak, too, in order to get some tips for how to captivate an audience.
  • Music: there is no greater thing than music. It has inspired ideas for me, given me a new perspective, and when I listen to the right movie scores whilst writing, the words just flood out of me.
  • Podcasts, films, and TV of interest: consuming interesting, inspiring, and well-written media will, in turn, enrich your own creations. Simple. So, instead of watching reruns of the same two shows, or sitting and watching crappy reality TV shows, watch or listen to something of substance and gain something that will help your mind and your writing.
  • Walk, think and see: I find that a good solo walk (with no destination) can really help to clear the mind and make way for interesting thought and reflection. This will then give you ideas, or at least the right mindset to get some writing done. Take in your surroundings and let it heal you or inspire you.
  • Capture thoughts, words, and conversations: never let a thought (no matter how big or small) get away from you. Write it down. It doesn’t matter if you never use it or look back and think it’s pants later. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it…

There you go, this is my list that will hopefully help me to better my writing, my craft, and myself. I hope these are things you find useful for your writing, too. Good luck, and happy writing.

And of course, don’t forget that I am a freelance writer for hire, here and happy to help with your writing needs…

Things Writers Are Tired of Hearing

  • It’s not gonna make you any money
  • It’s not like a real job
  • I don’t really read, sorry.
  • What do you write? Is it like Fifty Shades of Grey?
  • Sorry to disturb you.
  • Not busy, are you?
  • You’re always on your phone or laptop or writing something down.
  • How many books have you written? (And whatever your answer is will always be disappointing).
  • Is it like — or like —
  • I’ve always wanted to write a book.
  • You must be so smart.
  • I think I’m gonna write a book.
  • What does this word mean?
  • Why don’t you go outside, get some fresh air?
  • What have you done today? (And writing is a not a good enough answer).
  • I really liked your book/post (but they didn’t really know anything about it).
  • I’ll buy your books (and they just don’t, they never do).
  • The unenthusiastic “oh” when you say you’re a writer.
  • Why won’t you come out with us?
  • I know a great story you can write!
  • Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that?
  • It’s a bit long…
  • I don’t get it…
  • You should really get out more.
  • It’s not a realistic dream.

Remote Working and Freelancing Sucks!

Most people who work a job they hate, or work a 9-5 stuck to a desk, have probably once dreamt of working remotely (away from an office). But as a new remote worker (freelancer), I’m here to say it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s why this way of working isn’t always so perfect:

People in the house

When you work remotely, you often start from home. But don’t do it! It’s so hard and crappy for so many reasons. One, people. If you don’t live alone, and sometimes there’s people in the house with you, they will distract you.

My sister is a shift worker and my mom is a teacher, and so there’s times when they’re in the house in the daytime. And it super sucks! They’re so annoying. For them, it’s free time. They’re doing errands, chores, or having fun. But that effects you, someone who’s meant to be working – and they just don’t get that.

Or a lonely “home office”

On the other hand, it’s not all that great if you live alone or don’t have people in the house during the day. It can get lonely. Perhaps your partner goes off to work every morning, and you’re left behind. It can feel really isolating and loud with absence. I’m good at being alone; I like working alone, but still the quiet can get to you at times.

Finding a suitable coffee shop

If you’re sensible, you’ll work outside your house, where possible. Whether it’s a cafe, coffee shop, library or other, it’s not going to be as easy as you’d think. Not everyone lives in an accommodating area that’s rife with internet cafes or suitable sitting space.

Plus, some cafes or coffee shops may have time limits on them. Or you could feel pressured to keep buying things so that you can stay, thus spending more than you may like when you’re starting out as a freelancer, like I am.

Other issues are the loud noises, lack of plugs, and lack of work space. You’re lucky if you live in an accommodating area.

“It’s not a real job”

You’re going to have to deal with a lot of naysayers, saying your job isn’t a real one. They will think you’re waking up late and chilling out for most of the day. My mom asks me to do things when I’m in the house, or my sister chats away to me like I’m not busy, just because I’m in the house!

I may be in the house, but I’m working, dude!

Time management

You know you can sleep in, but you know you shouldn’t. No day is a set work day, but neither are any days a no-work day. And so, you need to manage your time well, otherwise you’ll lose out. When you don’t work, you make no money – simple. So, manage your time effectively so that you make your money, as well as live the life you want.

More time, less money

The greatest thing about remote working is that you suddenly have more time. If you manage your time well, you can get more work done in less time and be able to do what you want. However, the case usually is (especially at first) more time and less money.

My friends with full time jobs have more money than me, but less time. I have more time, and less money. It’s so frustrating. This is the case with most beginners freelancers.

Finding your own clients

As a freelancer like me, or simply someone who works for themselves, you’ll have to find your own clients. It’s great when they find you, but don’t bet on this. It’s so difficult to be a nobody and have to prove your worth.

Also, there’s the whole finding your niche, your interests, your ideal client. It would be amazing to work for someone who you actually like, or produce content for them that you enjoy doing. Finding that client will be hard, and getting paid suitably for it will be even harder.

Making a lifestyle

For me, working as a freelancer was all about developing a lifestyle that works for me. I wanted time to work when I wanted, write when I wanted, read when I wanted, work out when I wanted, have fun when I wanted, and so on. It was all about control and freedom to be me.

But making a lifestyle this way isn’t easy. Having all this time to work with is kind of daunting. Making a routine for yourself that works for you, your family, your work, your progression, and your leisure is so tough and very frustrating.

“Work” is hard

For a lot of us, especially beginners, work will be so much more than it was on the 9-5. Yes, there’s more freedom and flexibility (hence why we decided to do it) but there’s much more groundwork to be done. You have to email often, meet new clients, complete briefs, do invoices, manage multiple clients, track time spent on work, track time spent on research, track time spent on revisions, find new clients, do sample work, blog, website update, feed your mind, and more.

Of course, it all depends on what work you’re doing and how you’re doing it, but you’re your own boss, so everything falls onto you. Whatever you don’t do, doesn’t get done.

And work for me, as a writer, is so much more than just writing what a client told me to write. That’s what I’m paid for at the moment, but as a writer “work” also means reading, blogging, researching, book writing, book editing, proofreading and more. But no everyone gets that, and that’s something you’ve also got to manage.

You become a recluse

It’s so easy when you’re a remote worker to never go outside. You never have to talk to anyone. No more awkward encounters with colleagues. This is great for anti-social people or loners (kind of like me) but it’s bad. Don’t become a recluse. Try to meet up with people around their work, or make friends who are also remote workers so you can meet up now and again to work together.

Plus, don’t fall into the trap of working everyday in your PJs or joggers! Get up, shower, get dressed and do your hair. Remember that you’re a person, who should look as such no matter where you’re working for the day.

What to charge

As a freelancers or remote worker, you may have to set your own rates. This is awful!! Charge too much, and you lose the client; charge too little, and you’re a fool. It’s so difficult to determine your worth, the project difficulty, and what would be reasonable to charge. And oftentimes, you will say different things to different clients. It’s just awful.

In truth, being a freelancer is great. I love the time. I love the freedom. I love the rewarding feeling of knowing I’ve been paid for something that I made happen. And working to my schedule rocks.

There’s a lot to suddenly do and take care of when you’re a freelancer, though. I’ve yet to find comfort in the new lifestyle – comfort meaning a nice routine, a steady pay, great clients in areas of interest, and more. However, this new lifestyle has been very rewarding so far. I’ve been able to write nearly a whole book in just over a month because of this. I’ve been paid for writing whilst not being an actual employee. I’ve proved my worth. I’ve blogged like crazy (as you can see). And I’ve explored myself.

I think you should try it, but know that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows!

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone

I just finished reading Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi this morning, and I had to post a review because of how excited I was about it before reading it.

However, it wasn’t all that I wanted it to be. Here’s why…

*MILD SPOILERS MAY BE IN THIS POST – BEWARE!*

The Bad

Characters were boring:

I find myself saying this a lot. For some reason, a book’s plot can be epic, filled with awesome ideas, but then the characters that the story is meant to follow are just poor. The same rang true for CBB. Sadly, Zelie was flat for me. I liked her to begin with, which was great, but then she became like most YA fantasy heroines: just a whiny, I’m-powerful-no-I’m-not-yes-I-am type.

Now, anyone who has read my fantasy series, The Eternity Series, may think that Letti is like this. And she is, at first. But I’d like to think she’s more playful and has an actual personality compared to some heroines I’ve read. Plus, even if the heroine isn’t working, I at least want to like another character. But no! In CBB, I didn’t like any of the characters. They were all flat, in my opinion. I’m sorry, Tomi Adeyemi!

The magic fell flat

Just like the characters, the magical elements in the book fell short as time went on. For some reason, the introductions to magic were awesome but then it became very meh. They did introduce new people who had new abilities and this was cool, but it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t awesome enough. It was a lot of talking, and very little ‘wow awesome magical stuff!

Unbelievable, forced love

Maybe I’m a bit harsh, but the couplings are rubbish! They were obvious. I mean, I knew that they’d come, for every YA fantasy seems to do this – including my own. But the love wasn’t great. It’s not like I was rooting for any of them to fall in love. In fact, I was hoping that Zelie would fall out of love! It was bluh! (I know I’m using sounds rather than words, but sometimes that works for me, OK!)

It’s just one minute there was nothing, then there seemed like a lot. And I didn’t feel like the characters had been through enough, or flirted, or admired, or whatever, enough for the word ‘love’ to even be used. Yet it was. And that didn’t work for me.

Flippy, floppy resolve

Now this one I did hesitate about writing in the bad section. I might contradict myself in the next section and explain why it did work for me. But the change in resolve did annoy me a bit.

I didn’t like that certain characters wanted something with all their heart one minute, then was completely against it the next, and then wanted it again. My favourite characters – ones like the Harry Potter cast, Percy Jackson cast, Naruto, Ichigo, Luffy (anime characters) – all had something very strong that was unwavering, and that was their resolve. I love the idea of a resolve that burns bright inside a character and doesn’t relent. So, maybe that’s why it didn’t work for me.

The Good

I always try to end on a positive note, so here’s all the good things about the book…

Change in resolve

As I said, I will contradict myself a little. I guess I did like the change in resolve a little as it changed the course of the book. It made things less linear, and more unpredictable. It shows a humanity, I think, to change your mind. Everyone does, really, especially a teenager with such a massive task on their hands.

I don’t know, it was weird. Letti (from The Eternity Series) does change her mind. One minute she thinks someone is bad, the next she decides they’re not. One minute she wants nothing to do with the immortal war, the next she does. So, I get the change in resolve thing. However, once Letti has all the information, her resolve in unwavering in one aspect – she can’t let things go on the way they are; things need to change for the better, and by her hands. I think this would have been nice to see from Zelie in CBB. Even with changing her mind and finding out new information, to see that moment of pure resolve set in would have really worked well.

Magic

Of course, the whole reason why I wanted to read the book is its magic. I liked the unique take on magic that I hadn’t personally seen or read before. It worked very well. I also liked the way the magic was created. The rituals and artifacts were great, very ancient and spiritual and creepy!

African mythology & culture

Another reason why I really wanted to read it was because of the all-black cast and the fact that it was written by a Nigerian woman. Yes, this is important because, sadly, there aren’t many books like this. I loved that Adeyemi wrote about her heritage. I loved reading about African culture. My partner is Zimbabwean, so I loved hearing Baba which is what I call my partner’s father. I loved the clothing, which reminded me of my time in Africa last year; and I loved the language. It was just beautiful, and definitely the strongest thing about the book.

The world creation

I liked the setting Adeyemi had created. I don’t know how much of it was based off Nigeria, or if at all, but I liked the map she created. I liked the lifestyle, weapons, and living situations. I liked the giant animals that they rode. This was something I could tell right away that she drew from Avatar: The Last Airbender, because I did the same! In a lot of anime, too, they ride giant creatures. I later found out that she did actually like Avatar and I found that so cool! It’s awesome to have something in common with an author you’re reading.

Although it was, of course, an issue in the book, I also liked the segregation. The classism. The royals and the peasants, as it were. It’s something that definitely needed to be there and it was an ideal carried strongly throughout the book.

Deities

I love the idea of unique gods. Again, I don’t know if this was taken from Nigerian beliefs, or from her African mythology studies, but I really like the gods she used. There was a god for each magical power, and those gods worked to breath magic into the Diviners. I loved this concept. I loved the idea of the gods, without it being as rigid as religion.

Social issues addressed

The greatest thing about the book is the reason behind why it was written in the first place – to address social issues. This book is so important because, as I said before, it features an all-black cast. It is written by a black woman. It is actually a bestseller, despite those things. That alone is something for the history books because when you type in ‘the best authors in the world’ or ‘bestselling authors’, it’s largely white faces that you see. Or men. But Adeyemi has given something special to us female authors of colour; she has paved the way (along with the likes of Angie Thomas, Zadie Smith, etc).

But the book itself was trying to address the issue of black crime. Adeyemi was trying to show how the way someone looks can mean they are deemed less-than in our world, too. That black people are being killed by people of authority, police, unjustly. Her book shows how real and raw and devastating this is. It’s disgusting. And hopefully, with how popular her book is, and how sought-after her opinion now is, this can change.

—*—

Overall, I liked reading CBB. I wouldn’t have finished reading it if it wasn’t a good book, for I am a firm believer in ‘if you’re not enjoying it, move on.’ It’s a long book and perhaps it could have been shorter, but in general, it worked really well. I am sure that it will pave the way for a great many more books like this. That alone is very special. Well done, Tomi Adeyemi, for a great debut novel, and I look forward to reading the next one!

How to Handle Criticism

As a budding writer or author, you will suffer through a great deal of criticism. Everyone’s a critic, and everyone criticises art. That means you and your work will be a big target.

They’ll say your writing is dull. Your writing is too descriptive. Your characters don’t work. Your plot doesn’t make sense. Your plot is too slow; it’s too fast. You used the wrong “your” once. You copied Harry Potter. You don’t understand your genre. You’re writing for the wrong audience. You’re writing too much. You’re writing too little.

They will find a fault, no matter how perfect you write. People always do.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes they’re right. Of course they are! The first way to deal with criticism is to determine what to listen to and what not to listen to. This is crucial. Every writer will need to adopt this power. The power to see truth in criticism but also recognise non-truths.

From there, you will need to learn what to take onboard and keep in mind for next time, and what to completely dismiss. This is down to you. You can only grow as a writer if you hear what people say and decide, humbly and honestly, what is true and what is not.

Here’s a few quick tips that should help you on the road to dealing with criticism:

  • Ask your inner critic if it’s true.
  • Discuss criticism that you’ve received with someone you trust to tell you the truth. They will help you determine whether it’s worth taking onboard or not.
  • Check if anyone else has said a similar thing to you before, if so, it’s probably true.
  • Read a lot of books, essays, articles (etc) and see if those works are making the “mistake” that you’ve been accused of. If not, then maybe you have made an error. However, don’t take “original” to mean “not okay.” Plenty of works have broken the rules and become global wonders in the future.
  • Go with your gut.

The last point there is the most important – go with your gut. Ultimately, it is up to you if you take on criticism or not. It’s up to you if it’s true or not. If you have a reason for what you’ve done, and you can back it up, then great! Forget them! Ignore them. Don’t take it onboard. Loads of people will have differing opinions about what you’ve produced, and that’s a good thing. Listen to some, and block out the rest. Don’t let them drag you down; instead, deal with it logically.

Things to bear in mind when it comes to critics:

  • Everyone is different
  • Everyone is entitled to their opinion – but it’s just an opinion, not fact
  • Some people simply want to drag you down and make you doubt your work
  • People will compare and tear apart your work, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good as it was before
  • It’s some people’s job to review and critique, so they naturally look for faults
  • You can take something onboard without taking it to heart – it’s not personal
  • Remember that it may help you to become better, so it’s a good thing
  • Everyone has their own tastes and wishes; no one can tell you what your story should be
  • Take what they say as suggestions, not commands
  • Never stop growing; never stop loving what you do; never stop getting better
  • Read, read, read, and develop an eye for what’s good and bad for yourself – it will help you determine if a critic is right or wrong, as you will have critiqued work for yourself
  • Do not lash out at a critic for what they’ve said

Good luck.

What Can I Do for You?

My freelance writing and editing specialties:

  • Manuscript editing (developmental editing, copy editing, line editing)
  • Book summaries and book reviews
  • Chapter rewrites
  • Mental health articles and blog posts
  • Regular blog posts (ideally on interesting topics, like: mental health, books, film, TV, UK, travel, lifestyle, or quarter life advice)

What I have experience in:

  • Web content writing
  • Web content editing/rewrites
  • Blogging (various clients)
  • Guidebooks
  • Newsletters
  • Articles
  • Interviewing
  • Research
  • Novel writing
  • Novel critique
  • Novel editing
  • Self-publishing
  • Poetry
  • Scriptwriting (amateur)
  • Film reviews
  • Book reviews

What I am able to do (aside from the aforementioned):

  • Web content
  • Blogging
  • Articles
  • Ghostwriting
  • Editing (various, to suit)

I love to explore new types of writing, and I strongly believe in “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” This means that I’m willing to take on projects outside of my comfort zone/expertise, but be aware that this would be new to me. I prioritise and work harder on projects that I love, enjoy, or care about personally. Please get in touch, no matter the project, and we can discuss how I may help you. I also know other writers, who I could refer you to should I be unable to complete your work.

Thanks!