Why Hub Authors Should Embrace Criticism
Do you plan to use the new feature allowing private feedback from other Hubbers?
A recent Facebook post from HubPages asked the question, "Would you like your fellow Hubbers to be able to suggest edits (which you can later review and approve or deny) to your Hubs when they see typos and other mistakes? If you're interested, you can sign up to be a beta tester of this feature!"
Hubbers who commented on the post expressed opinions both for and against the feature. However, all authors should learn to solicit and learn from criticism. Here are some reasons why:
Your Ideas Are Brilliant...
...but your grammar is atrocious. Your spelling, vocabulary, and sentence structure are interfering with your self-expression. You may be a world-renowned expert on a given topic, but if you are failing to put it across to your audience in a way that they find easily-readable, you are doing them and yourself a serious disservice. There are Hub authors with a wonderful gift for rhetoric, creative writing, technical speak, story-telling, and advice, but their articles are difficult to wade through because of a host of spelling, grammar, and vocabulary errors. To your readers, this is like looking at beautiful scenery through a dirty window. Authors need to learn to accept criticism so that they can be their best selves. Leave your insecurities at the door and make room for improvement.
You Possess Vast Amounts of Wisdom...
...and absolutely no objectivity. An author's work is like her offspring. Sending it out to be critiqued by others can feel like sending your firstborn child out to be raised by wolves. If you are a parent, you know that getting any negative feedback about your child can bring out the worst in you, even if it is justified. As an author, you have read your article repeatedly, scanned it for mistakes, run the spelling and grammar check, set it aside and come back to it later, cleaned it up, and finally put it out there. As far as your concerned, it's perfect. Your readers, on the other hand, do not live inside your brain. They do not have your background, do not make the same assumptions as you, and do not share your point of reference. They can let you know if something needs to be clarified, is offensive, or is simply not "coming off" the way you intended. Many authors like to say that they write to please themselves, and that is fine, if you don't think you have anything worth sharing with the rest of the world. On the other hand, if you think what you have to say is important, make sure everyone else understands what it is your attempting to convey.
You Are a Professional Writer...
...and should be used to criticism by now. One author commented that "part of your job in writing, is doing your own editing, spell checking, etc." This could not be further from the truth. If writing is your job, than you are a professional writer. If you are a professional, you know that the manuscript does not end with you. All of those books on the bestsellers' list go through editors and proofreaders, several times over. None of them are published exactly as they were originally written. Many Hub authors dream of one day writing a book, and some already have. Even if you don't plan to pen the Great American Novel, your level of professionalism can only improve by opening yourself up to honest criticism. Closing your ears to criticism because it hurts your ego is childish...the exact opposite of professional.
HubPages Is a Great Community...
...of writers who understand what it's like to be a writer. For the most part, Hubbers who comment on others' Hubs try to keep their comments positive and helpful. If a Hub could use improvement in its writing technique, other Hubbers do not want to embarrass a fellow author by criticizing them openly, especially if they feel they would have enjoyed the Hub content, minus the errors. This hurts the community in two ways: sub-standard Hubs remain sub-standard, and readers who otherwise would have commented on the Hub won't comment because they don't want to say anything negative. In both cases, traffic to the Hub will suffer, because people commenting on your Hubs, giving positive feedback, and voting them "up" draws them to the attention of other Hubbers. Having a private feature where other writers can critique your work will save you the humiliation of being publicly criticized, but it will also save you from being blissfully ignorant of why your HubScore keeps dropping.
We all remember that kid in high school who wanted to correct everything that everyone else said or did. It is possible that the teacher's pet is out there lurking on HubPages, just waiting for the opportunity to correct somebody. The fear of being inundated with nit-picky comments from Madam Grammar may cause some Hub authors to shudder and say, "No, thanks!" Part of being a good author, or a good anything for that matter, is practicing discernment. No matter what you do for a living, you will be criticized. The key is learning to differentiate between honest, helpful criticism and mean, snarky, disparagement. Step back, look at the criticism, and ask yourself, "Is this true? What can I do to improve this? What can I learn from this?" Sometimes, even if a criticism is just born of plain meanness, there will be a kernel of truth that we can still learn from. Thank the criticizer for their input, even if they are wrong. You don't have to take it to heart.
In the spirit of good faith, I am inviting all of my fellow Hub authors to critique this article openly in the comment section. Please point out any grammar, spelling, or style problems you see! I will wait a few weeks before correcting them, just to prove to everyone that I can, indeed, handle criticism. I think.