Writing to the Review is like Teaching to the Test

Working in the education field, I sometimes hear teachers lamenting about how the Federal regulations have them teaching to the tests, rather than teaching children the love of learning. They say this is taking much of the joy out of their job, since they aren’t free to be creative, spontaneous and remain true to their gifts as educators.

For writers, there is a temptation to remodel our writing style to fit the comments of reviewers, in essence, to write to the review.

While we certainly need to pay attention to constructive criticism, using reader feedback to improve our craft, if we try to please every reviewer there is a risk of losing the joy of writing and of transforming our unique voice into a counterfeit, or even losing our passion for writing.

When the criticism is about the quality of my writing, I try to take it to heart and keep honing my craft.  But, when a reviewer comments on the content of the story or the personalities of the characters, I try to remember they are simply expressing a personal preference.

I recently began reading a book by a new author, planning to provide a review, but the author’s style and subject matter were so personally off-putting, I couldn’t finish reading the book. Since I was not the person this author was writing for, I chose not to post any review. I didn’t think it would be fair.

Rather than removing the essence of who I am, in an attempt to please everyone who picks up one of my books, I’m going to try to target readers who will appreciate my style by being as clear as possible about that style in every book’s description.

Someone once told me, “Follow your passion, whether anyone follows you, or not.”  If you are one who writes from the love of writing, that sounds like good advice.

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