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Old 02-13-2010, 08:40 AM
 
662 posts, read 1,553,416 times
Reputation: 1064

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How do you deal with criticism of your work? I'm a tech writer, so I have to deal with it regularly from clients and reviewers in regular review cycles. I don't mind when a sentence is corrected that is technically inaccurate as written, but I hate when people change my excellently constructed sentences with minor edits that are wrong. For example, adding commas where there shouldn't be and removing commas that should be, removing appropriate em dashes just because they don't like the look of a dash, and moving periods and commas outside of closing quotation marks when we've already agreed to use American conventions. Several times I have been asked to cite the Chicago Manual of Style to prove that I'm right. Of course I'm right - I refer to the manual regularly, this is what I do for a living!

However, I've found that I'm my own worst critic. The other day I sent my first email to a new client introducing myself and asking a few questions. In reading back what I'd sent, I discovered a sentence fragment I forgot to delete. HORRORS!! I obsessed about that all day, debating whether to write back and apologize for the error or just let it go hoping he wouldn't notice. I decided not to point it out but am still thinking about it three days later! *sigh*

Anyone have stories to share regarding criticism?
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Old 02-13-2010, 09:10 AM
 
21,339 posts, read 63,809,524 times
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I let folks know I have a concealed carry permit, an irritable personality, not a lot of time for nit-picking, and then I ask them to be honest in their criticism.

The sad fact is that I don't get corrected often enough. I say that because I don't use proper grammar or conventions, and could use the feedback.
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:51 AM
 
8,680 posts, read 14,540,235 times
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I'm on both sides of the fence: I write and edit.

Fortunately, most of the editors I've had were excellent. They brought out the best in me as a writer while teaching me the finer points of graciousness in editing.

Then there was the last one, a beneficiary of nepotism who had no business being the director of anything, never mind communications. She introduced errors, didn't know the difference between then and than, and wrote in such a disorganized, discombobulated, rambling way that I wondered, in all seriousness, if she had a mental disorder.

That's when I pulled out Chicago's 15th.

Best part is, she had no idea there were different editorial styles, or even what a style manual was. There she was, writing press releases, with no clue about AP.

My advice is to stick to your guns and back up your writing with whatever guide you use. Don't take their requests personally, and just show them what they want. This will not only let them see how easy you are to work with, it will also demonstrate your value as a writer, and nowadays you can't go wrong with proving your worth.

When all else fails, bap'em on the forehead with Strunk & White. It's a little book. It won't hurt.

Last edited by Yzette; 02-13-2010 at 10:56 AM.. Reason: Compulsion.
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Old 02-13-2010, 11:22 AM
 
662 posts, read 1,553,416 times
Reputation: 1064
Quote:
Originally Posted by Avienne View Post
When all else fails, bap'em on the forehead with Strunk & White. It's a little book. It won't hurt.
Great advice!
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Old 02-13-2010, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Elsewhere
75,453 posts, read 70,560,557 times
Reputation: 95299
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsRhythm View Post
How do you deal with criticism of your work? I'm a tech writer, so I have to deal with it regularly from clients and reviewers in regular review cycles. I don't mind when a sentence is corrected that is technically inaccurate as written, but I hate when people change my excellently constructed sentences with minor edits that are wrong. For example, adding commas where there shouldn't be and removing commas that should be, removing appropriate em dashes just because they don't like the look of a dash, and moving periods and commas outside of closing quotation marks when we've already agreed to use American conventions. Several times I have been asked to cite the Chicago Manual of Style to prove that I'm right. Of course I'm right - I refer to the manual regularly, this is what I do for a living!

However, I've found that I'm my own worst critic. The other day I sent my first email to a new client introducing myself and asking a few questions. In reading back what I'd sent, I discovered a sentence fragment I forgot to delete. HORRORS!! I obsessed about that all day, debating whether to write back and apologize for the error or just let it go hoping he wouldn't notice. I decided not to point it out but am still thinking about it three days later! *sigh*

Anyone have stories to share regarding criticism?
That happens to me, too. I usually just correct it back to my way, providing, of course, that I am right, which I usually am. There are certain people who make changes just for the sake of making changes.

Engineers are generally not know for being great at grammar and spelling, and so they don't seem to care and sometimes even appreciate my corrections. The lawyers, however, are a different matter. I love it when I catch them making mistakes.

I also hate it when I discover my own errors!
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Old 02-13-2010, 02:28 PM
 
8,680 posts, read 14,540,235 times
Reputation: 15322
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
That happens to me, too. I usually just correct it back to my way, providing, of course, that I am right, which I usually am. There are certain people who make changes just for the sake of making changes.

Engineers are generally not know for being great at grammar and spelling, and so they don't seem to care and sometimes even appreciate my corrections. The lawyers, however, are a different matter. I love it when I catch them making mistakes.

I also hate it when I discover my own errors!
I did tech writing for a couple of years and the techies didn't mind my edits.

My career is in health publications, though, and I've run into a few doctors who sound like your lawyers. Fortunately, most of them (and pretty much every nurse or other kind of clinician I've ever edited) are grateful for the edit. A number of them, particularly those who also do research, were very quick to say that writing was never their strong suit. They're good with data and writing for peer-reviewed journals, but breaking things down to ninth-grade English? Not so much.

Now if the doctors I see as a patient would treat me with the same respect from the get-go, life would be grand. So many of them in recent years have been snooty--until I tell them what I do and who I've written for, and start spouting data at them. Then suddenly they're my buds. It kind of makes me wonder how the ones who have been nice to me professionally treat their patients.
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Old 02-17-2010, 01:39 AM
 
Location: central Oregon
1,893 posts, read 2,362,170 times
Reputation: 2451
I'm a poet and I get a lot of criticism. I mostly let it slide because not everyone likes poetry. I certainly don't mind someone correcting my spelling mistakes, but it ticks me off to no end when someone starts in on my lack of punctuation in a poem. If I feel I need to use punctuation I will, if it reads well without, then it goes without. I recently posted a poem on this forum that got many good reviews, but one guy went on and on about my grammar and punctuation. I wanted to reach through the computer and bop him on his head.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:27 AM
 
Location: Elsewhere
75,453 posts, read 70,560,557 times
Reputation: 95299
Quote:
Originally Posted by tulani View Post
I'm a poet and I get a lot of criticism. I mostly let it slide because not everyone likes poetry. I certainly don't mind someone correcting my spelling mistakes, but it ticks me off to no end when someone starts in on my lack of punctuation in a poem. If I feel I need to use punctuation I will, if it reads well without, then it goes without. I recently posted a poem on this forum that got many good reviews, but one guy went on and on about my grammar and punctuation. I wanted to reach through the computer and bop him on his head.
Sometimes maybe it would give you some relief to say, "Then write your own damn poem!"

I've taken writing workshops where critique by participants is key. It was a very valuable experience, and partly because of the rules of critique in those workshops. The idea was to comment on the writing, and we were required to provide both negative (i.e., "helpful suggestions") as well as point out the strengths of the authors. The latter helped immensely so you didn't get into fixing what wasn't broken, and the negative or helpful criticisms were accompanied by a suggestion on how you could fix the perceived problem. What was NOT allowed was criticism of the subject/topic itself.

I'm not a poet myself, but I'd think that the form doesn't have to follow the rules of punctuation in the same way that prose does.
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Old 02-17-2010, 01:20 PM
 
Location: central Oregon
1,893 posts, read 2,362,170 times
Reputation: 2451
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
Sometimes maybe it would give you some relief to say, "Then write your own damn poem!"

I've taken writing workshops where critique by participants is key. It was a very valuable experience, and partly because of the rules of critique in those workshops. The idea was to comment on the writing, and we were required to provide both negative (i.e., "helpful suggestions") as well as point out the strengths of the authors. The latter helped immensely so you didn't get into fixing what wasn't broken, and the negative or helpful criticisms were accompanied by a suggestion on how you could fix the perceived problem. What was NOT allowed was criticism of the subject/topic itself.

I'm not a poet myself, but I'd think that the form doesn't have to follow the rules of punctuation in the same way that prose does.
LOL! I have told many, many people to write their own damn poem if they think they can do better than me.

Thanks for the back-up on punctuation. I never worry about it, but it does get my goat when someone (who can't even post a legible post) starts telling me how to write.
If a poem without punctuation was good enough for my English 101 college term paper (I got an A) then punctuation in poetry is not always needed.
(It's really hard to even explain that to someone who can't write.)
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:56 PM
 
Location: Elsewhere
75,453 posts, read 70,560,557 times
Reputation: 95299
Quote:
Originally Posted by tulani View Post
LOL! I have told many, many people to write their own damn poem if they think they can do better than me.

Thanks for the back-up on punctuation. I never worry about it, but it does get my goat when someone (who can't even post a legible post) starts telling me how to write.
If a poem without punctuation was good enough for my English 101 college term paper (I got an A) then punctuation in poetry is not always needed.
(It's really hard to even explain that to someone who can't write.)
One of my writing instructors once told us that line, only referring to criticism of a book. I hope to use it someday.
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