Reflect on Criticism
“Lie naked on the table, and let them cut. Criticism is surgery, and humility is the anesthetic that allows you to tolerate it. In the end, the process will make you a stronger, more flexible, and truly creative writer. It will replace attitude with genuine confidence, and empty arrogance with artistry.” ~Molly Cochran
Recently, I took a personality test, just for fun, to see what it would say. Now, I’ve taken this test before, from a different website, and both have described me as an INTJ. For me, it sort of affirmed what I already knew about myself – that I have a thirst for applicable knowledge, and it can be hard for me to translate the thoughts that are constantly going on in my head. Knowing more about myself meant that I could also understand more of myself – so that I could fix the things that I needed to fix.
As a grad student, our work is constantly being scrutinized, critiqued, and taken apart. Some of our reviewers are not kind, and a few seem to have a vendetta against any new academic. It helps to remember three rules: (1) don’t take things personally, (2) their comments will make you better, and (3) take what you can use, and let go of the rest. For many, our first reaction is to get defensive about our work. After all, we are putting our very best effort forward, and to have it torn down leaves gaping holes in our ego. However, we need to learn how to take criticism without getting defensive. If we do not listen to our reviewers, we will not improve our work. So, learn to use critique in ways that build you up.
You may have given your best effort, but our reviewers are telling us how to get even better!