#IWSG Insecure Writers Support Group: Finding Your Ruby Slippers

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I never developed that fabled "thick skin" that some writers develop when it comes to criticism. But I did learn to put on my ruby slippers.

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy learns she always had the power to return home at any time. Her ruby slippers were with her all along, and all she had to do was learn to use them.

You have a pair of ruby slippers, too, and once you learn to exercise their power, it will change everything for you when it comes to criticism and its power over you.

We all face criticism. Sometimes, it's intended to be helpful, and we can use it to improve our work. It may sting a little because we're in love with our own creations (as well we should be) but learning from it helps us to grow.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you look at criticism is whether you can learn anything from it. If it brings up an issue that you can fix - such as pacing, uneven characterization, or a plot hole - then you should at least give it some consideration, no matter how harshly it's worded. Ultimately, they might not be right, but it's worth thinking about. We all have areas we can improve, and our critics are often the ones who give us that insight into areas of weakness.

If it's a statement that has no value you can take away from it, then you need to discard it as worthless. Sometimes people say things just to be hurtful. To be blunt about it, there are some very mean people out there and their cruelty may have very little to do with you, or your work. They're just looking to make someone feel bad.

I used to be terribly hurt when harsh words were directed at my writing, sometimes driven to tears. But one day, I realized I had my ruby slippers all along.

I know this sounds trite, but it's actually something that really made a massive difference for me when I realized how true it really is: your critics have only the power that you give them. If you decide they don't have the power to hurt you, they don't.

It's as stunningly simple as that. YOU get to decide how much their words are going to matter to you. You have the power to decide how much you'll value the opinion of some random person on the internet.

Today, as I was driving, I had to slow my car in a residential area because a group of young children were playing in the street. They moved with sullen reluctance out of the way, and as I drove past one of them shouted an insult at me.

I wasn't troubled by it. In fact, I didn't give it a second thought until I was composing this post, and then it occurred to me that it's a lot like the criticism writers sometimes face. We're moving along, going on about our business when suddenly, someone disapproves of what we're doing and responds with cruel words, or shouts a random insult at us.

I wasn't hurt by that child's insult, because I didn't care about his opinion of me driving on his street. I didn't feel defensive, or secretly worry he was right and I was inferior. I didn't feel anything, actually, except impatience to get to my destination. I had the power to decide how I was going to feel about his insult. And I always have that power.

There's an old Arab proverb: The dogs may bark, but the caravan passes on. You are the one who decides whether you'll stop your caravan to listen to the barking dogs.

My dog hates the mailman. Undoubtedly, if he could speak English, he would be shouting some very choice words when the mailman comes strolling up my driveway every day. My mailman doesn't care. He could be troubled by the fact my dog doesn't like him. But he's decided he's indifferent to it.

My point is that we make these decisions every day, what input is going to matter to us. We ignore opinions that are inconsequential to us. So we do have that power. We just need to learn to put our ruby slippers on in other situations.

.¸¸•.¸¸.•´¯`• (¯`•♥•´¯)•´¯`•.¸¸.•.¸¸.

You can see my other posts for the Insecure Writer's Support Group here, and visit the main blogroll here.


  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a beautiful post! Thanks for the reminder about it's up to us how we react to criticism.


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