Thornton Wilder taught me ... the necessity of sitting through bad plays, to witness coughing and squirming in the audience, to have ears up like a rabbit to catch what didn't work, to observe how little tolerance an audience has for a mishap, ten seconds of boredom breaking an hour-long spell.To this day, Stein urges his writing students
Once they have begun to master the craft, to read a few chapters of John Grisham's The Firm, or some other transient bestseller, to see what they can learn from the mistakes of writers who don't heed the precise meanings of the words they use. they also learn to read the work of literary prize-winners to detect the rare uncaught error in craft. What they are doing is perfecting their editorial eye and their self-editing talent, learning to read as a writer.Critique groups perform this service for us. At critique groups we are learning not just to fix our work but to develop an instinctive ability to edit our own writing, the ability to see our work without the rose-tinted spectacles of a creator. We are "perfecting our editorial eye".
I wish someone told me that six years ago when I started writing. I made the mistake of listening to the advice of a (published) close friend:
Don't show your work to anyone. It will put you off writing.But knowing what I know now, those two years of not showing my work to anybody was a complete waste of time. The fact is, writers who are put off by criticism are not cut out for publication. One only has to read the reader reviews on Amazon to realise that this writing business is not for the thin-skinned.
As Aussie Fantasy Author Ian Irvine says in his piece The Truth About Publishing:
Anyone who can be discouraged from writing should be.