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Why Hub Authors Should Embrace Criticism

Updated on June 24, 2012

Do you plan to use the new feature allowing private feedback from other Hubbers?

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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. 


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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      I've just read various articles about what works when web writing. Some of the info is site specific. Picking up tips along the way I've learned about 2-3 sentence paragraphs, no use of the abbreviated texting lingo, the importance of sticking with good grammar on the web, and more. There's always more to learn and questions can be Googled or searched out on a specific site like HP. I don't know that there's one handbook that fits all sizes, but I've learned that if there were, it would be out of date in 6 months!

    • adawnmorrison profile image

      adawnmorrison 5 years ago from The Midwest

      I have not heard...or read...much about writing specifically for a web audience (I suspect my high school composition teacher would be appalled at how the rules have changed). Is there a resource where you can learn about writing specifically for the web? A lot of "for hire" writing is for webpages, and I'm not always sure what they are expecting.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Bravo for such good points on valuing criticism as an author!

      I look forward to input on my work, not that I want others to do my work, but even when proofreading several times before posting I miss mistakes that seem obvious when I go back and catch them months after posting. Still, I don't want to come across as lazy by wanting someone else to do what I should do with proofing.

      Also, I like the idea of participating in the program because, contrary to popular belief, I don't know everything, particularly about writing. 8-] It's a fabulous learning opportunity, and as you mention, the whole community benefits from the improvements.

      Great stuff here!

      Oh, it took me a while to learn about breaking my writing up into 2-3 sentence paragraphs for web writing. Evidently, that's about the limit for a piece on the www. You might consider breaking your points up into 2 sentence paragraphs, especially since what you write is important.

    • adawnmorrison profile image

      adawnmorrison 5 years ago from The Midwest

      I have read several Hubs where the content was great, but my spelling and grammar radars made it hard for me to enjoy it. People who know me ask me to proofread their writing, but I'm not comfortable giving an unsolicited critique, especially in the public comments. I hope a lot of Hubbers will take advantage of the new feature when it becomes available.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      I agree with Rochelle, excellent points.

      Anyone who writes professionally or is aspiring to write regularly should be comfortable with receiving feedback. We all make mistakes. It's better to have someone kindly point out a grammar or spelling error when it's found rather than letting it go!

      Those giving feedback should give constructive criticism if the feedback is on content.

    • adawnmorrison profile image

      adawnmorrison 5 years ago from The Midwest

      Thank you, Rochelle and now we know what happens when you don't go back and re-read your work!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

      Good article with a lot of important points for writers -- and I agree that spelling or grammar mistakes can distract the reader.

      Like this one: (You asked for it)

      "As far as your concerned, it's perfect." -- should be "you're" as in "you are", but you probably knew that, and just put it in to see if I would notice. :)