Tool 49 ~ Learn from your critics.

Can I say that this tool has so much more to do with life than just writing?

It’s about interacting with people.

“Tolerate even unreasonable criticism.”

Instead of one side winning and the other side losing the debate, let’s have a conversation. Clark calls conversation–“give and take” (236).

Don’t defend your work. You know there are rough edges yet. Be open to discuss them.

And explain yourself. Clark explains how one reader didn’t like his short chapters in his “Three Little Words.” Yet that is the reason others liked it so much. He wanted to keep it short and sweet. He wanted to capture the battle between life and death in as few words as possible. He wanted readers to understand it is like to experience and die through AIDS. So he explained his purpose to the critic. Maybe the critic never understood, but at least Clark had explained his thought pattern.

Also, and personally this is the one that gets me the most, a lot of critiques are just a matter of taste, and “there can be no arguing about matters of taste” (237).

I love Clark’s run through. “I think Moby Dick is too long. You think abstract art is too abstract. My chili is too spicy. You reach for the Tabasco” (237).


So just explain. And if they don’t get it, they don’t get it. At least maybe you helped them understand just a little. And probably, you learned something in the process. 🙂


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