In Ernest Hemingway’s immortal words, ‘The first draft of everything is shit.’
Now that Hemingway has said it, you can’t let yourself get down in the dumpster about the response you garner from others or from yourself in regards to how your ‘first draft’ has turned out. It’s crap! End of discussion!
So should you leave it at that? Put down your pen, pop that dream bubble of ever becoming a successful writer? Should you just give up now and save yourself the embarrassment because your first draft showed us that your writing is crap?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! Don’t be a fool! That’s right, I said it. Don’t be a fool and don’t let others make a fool out of you. First draft of anything will be crap, be they stories like Lord of the Rigs, poem by Poe, architectural plans by the guy who designed Sydney’s Opera house (sorry I can’t recall his name in this instant, but the point is valid!), designs of landscape, medical journals, famous films like Pulp Fiction etc. They were all crap to begin with, but look where they got to!
You know why first drafts are crap? Because we spew everything out onto the page in one go without needing to clean it up so we can free our mind for the actual hard part, re-writing and editing. It’s called word vomit. Put everything out and then take a step back and observe what resulted.
Then and only then can you clean it up, trim the fat off it, run it through obstacle course, several examination under the knife, severe nip and tuck and sprucing. It’s only then, and especially after multiple and thorough editing that the project is worthy of presenting.
Another thing to remember is get constructive criticism only after you have worked on it so long that you can no longer see its faults. Who to seek for a constructive criticism? People who know that craft, professionals! Don’t rely on family and friends. Despite meaning to be helpful, there opinion may not have any basis other than to please you.
You do not want to be pleased! You want feedback that allows you to better yourself, find flaws you can no longer see and advise you to the benefit of the project.
Who you need is someone professional, and someone whose critique stays unbiased, within the realm of the project, where professional standards and decorum are maintained. After all, writers and other artists, we are a very sensitive bunch, and are likely to take things personally.
But either way, don’t be a fool and quit working on your craft, or dreaming of honing your skills. That is something no one can take from you, nor criticize you for aiming to attain something through hard work.
Remember, no ones first go is ever going to be any semblance of their finished product. So don’t fret. You do not need to re-start or quit. And only a fool quits doing what they love because of some feedback that were mostly opinion based rather than observations and solutions. Also, I will not tell you that all professional opinions are also valid and you must adhere to. No, this is another minefield you need to navigate through and only take in board the opinion that will help the project stay true to its intension.
It’s always easy to criticize but hard to bear, so learn to choose people who know what they are reading/talking about, don’t just approach family and friends. And manage the minefield in such a way as not to get shredded in the process.