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Q-tips and Other Advice. Consider the Feedback.

By on May 27, 2014 . Category Column

When I first turned assignments into my boss, she would give them back to me completely red-lined.  Sometimes, I would tease her about having my paper graded and hoping this one would get an A.  Other times, my bruised ego would joking (but not) tell her to circle what she liked rather than cross out what she didn’t – it’d save time and ink.

Although I mostly welcomed the constructive criticism, because each pass made my writing that much stronger, occasionally I would look bewildered, defeated or even deflated.  She saw my frustration and offered two important pieces of advice:


•Don’t marry your copy (meaning don’t become so attached that you can’t review the copy objectively).

•You need to Q-tip.

The second piece of advice left me a bit puzzled.  I looked at her quizzically (wondering how a cotton swab removing ear wax could affect my writing) when she elaborated, “Q-TIP: Quit Taking It Personally.”

Writers need thick skins, she explained.  Your words and ideas are subjective, left wide open for critique.  You will never please everyone and everyone will have an opinion.

“Writing is an under-appreciated profession”, said she.  “Everyone thinks they’re a writer and very few are… You are.”

Resurged by the honesty (and the pep talk), I remembered a third piece of advice: believe in yourself.  Enough to know that you aren’t perfect and you will need revisions, but that doesn’t mean your writing is weak.  Enough to not allow bad reviews or rejections to deter you from being the writer you know you are (and you know so many aren’t).

As the saying goes what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  And that applies to writing.  Consider the feedback.  Consider the source.  Absorb helpful suggestions.  Discard the rest.  And then Write On…


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