Finding Your Shortcomings Is A Good Thing

I think most people look at shortcomings as a fault,
something inside us that needs fixing.

But, to me, shortcomings are really just a view into
the stronger, better side of us.

copyright ilco

copyright ilco

I sent the latest draft of Yesterday People, Book 3 in the Past Life Series, to my beta reader a couple of weeks ago. This after having shown her a previous version and her telling me that the middle section pretty much didn’t work and that it had to be rewritten. So, knowing she hadn’t read through to the end, I ripped apart the whole middle, made it stronger and better, and shipped it back. Then, I got the call from my beta reader last week after she’d read the entire revision, beginning to end, where she told me that, nope, the blasted thing still needed major work.

As usual, her comments and suggestions were spot-on. But that got me to thinking: what is it about someone focusing on our shortcomings (in this case, the faults in my latest book) that make us think we’re less than we really are?

copyright fodor

copyright fodor

I wonder if this is a case of the glass is half full or the glass is half empty. When faced with someone’s positive (emphasis on the word positive) criticism of you, or something you do or say, why do we knee-jerk to that critique even though we know it’s accurate?

Human nature, maybe? That’d be my guess.

When someone offers up suggestions to improve ourselves, we face two choices: (1) take the critique personally and ignore it, and maybe even argue with the critiquer to prove they’re wrong, or (2), take the critique to heart, think it out, let it sit for a bit, and then decide what action you need to take.

The difference is that one choice will never give you the opportunity to grow, and might even close you off to new or difference experiences. And the other may be a little painful to go through, but it’ll help you discover new ways of looking at yourself and the life around you.

copyright marzini

copyright marzini

This is how it is for writing books, too. When my beta reader comes back and tells me, with a sure and deft hand, that some (or a lot) of my storytelling sucks, I could knee-jerk and tell her that she’s wrong and that she has no idea what the heck I’m writing about. But that’s a one-sided point of view. I mean, none of us sees ourselves for what we truly are. We think we do, but we don’t, and certainly not with the  perspective that someone else can bring into the picture.

So I’ve learned over time with my writing to keep an open mind when it comes to suggestions and criticism. And, in a way, that’s translated into my life, too. After all, I have those two choices, right? Either ignore and not grow, or take the comments to heart and find a way to become an even better writer (or person). Because, after all, shortcomings are really a window into the stronger, better side of us. The part of us that can be so much more.

Don’t you think?

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About terriponce

I write about twists, turns, past lives and suspense.
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12 Responses to Finding Your Shortcomings Is A Good Thing

  1. Lovely post! It helps when the reader “sandwiches” their criticism: start with one nice thing, then one bad, finish with another nice one. This takes out the sting, which is why I always try to use this technique when I offer my critique.
    It also helps with the most common problem with criticism: too often, it focuses on the negative. Focusing on what works, however, can also help you grow. So, don’t skimp on the positive aspects, as positive reinforcement is just as great a tool as negative one!

    Like

  2. marilynlevinson says:

    Think about it: in what other situations do we ask to be critiqued? Certainly not regarding our appearance, clothing, or lifestyle. However, we writers ask to be critiqued so that our finished product is a novel in its best possible form. Recently, I’ve received two very different responses from Beta readers. I try to learn from each, but my soul resonates with the reader who “gets” me. And let’s face it–there are the readers who don’t get us. But that’s another topic.

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  3. Claire (Clamo88 online) says:

    Good to know, tough to practice. The more we do it, though, the easier it becomes. I’m still learning and find it amusing that it’s easier for me to own up to my faults now than I could in my younger days. Applying that to my writing is more difficult and is going to take more practice. But I’m getting there.

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  4. Patti Munoz says:

    Great commentary!

    Patti

    >

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  5. This is so true – something I think most writers know, but too often forget. Thanks for the reminder.

    Like

  6. Kate Loveton says:

    Good advice! Now if only I can remember it! (grin). Thanks for the thoughtful viewpoint.

    Like

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