The only way people learn how to write well is by being open to constructive criticism. If someone tells you something is grammatically incorrect or that your writing style is flawed, you should listen and take them seriously. You don’t have to AGREE with them and change what you do, but you should at the very least give it serious consideration. Writers who refuse to take help from editors are never good writers. We all have stuff to learn.
And if the only thing you are telling someone about their writing is that their form is incorrect, you are being incredibly mean.
I’ve made many, many more posts about how we’re all still learning, and we all have flaws than I have about not listening to the vultures that take every waking chance to pick apart grammar, sentence structure, and etc.
When writers receive compliments, we don’t think: “I’m the best ever and I have mastered my language to the point I don’t have anything left to learn.” The general thought process is usually: “Alert! Alert! SOMEONE READ MY WRITING. Someone cared to read my writing??? And they’re saying something nice??? WOW. Maybe it’s not that terrible after all!”
The general point, that must have escaped you, is that this should be a platform where we build each other up, not tear each other down.
Totally agree. Also, Anon talks about writers “who refuse to take help from editors”. Thing is, editors are people you pay to critique you. Or at the very least ask, if it’s not a professional. Same for beta readers — receiving constructive criticism when you’ve requested it is very different from strangers on the internet giving you their unwanted two cents.
For one, how do we know that a stranger’s opinion matters to the story we’re trying to tell? Writing isn’t about pleasing everybody, so if you’re not part of the people we’re trying to please (age range, genre enthusiast, general taste…) your opinion isn’t going to help. Explaining that you enjoyed the story for x y and z but think it could be improved in some way will give your opinion more weight AND make you less of a dick! Amazing!
(and if you can’t think of a thing you enjoyed about the story then it just wasn’t written for you baby! move on with your day!)
For two: even if, like cog said, spontaneous compliments don’t make us feel like we’re the best, spontaneous criticism do make us feel like we’re the worst. Obviously this doesn’t include minor comments like pointing out typos, but for the rest, our inner saboteurs will jump on any negativity and make sure we never get it out of our heads. Criticism and compliments don’t weigh the same in our minds and memories, so your unwanted “constructive criticism” could backfire and be destructive instead.
When we request criticism, we’re prepared to receive it. We’re prepared to improve and take the ego wound. The rest of the time we just want to have a good time and live our lives, yeah?
Also, writers can absolutely learn without criticism. I went several years without anyone at all reading my writing, and I can see massive improvement during that time. During that time I learnt by reading other people’s work both good and bad, by practicing, by living my life and by reading writing advice (in order of importance).