Paul Cornell on writing:
SFX: What one tip would you give to a new writer, inspired to put pen to paper for the first time?
Paul Cornell: "I've got one sentence that sums it up: 'it is your job to seek out harsh criticism of your work and change it as a result'. That, frankly, is hideously painful. But boxers don't get good by avoiding being hit. If an editor, or someone else, starts offering you criticism, listen, make notes,
I'm not immune from being wounded by crits or from trying to explain why the critter got it wrong; that's something I need to work on.
But when I crit for someone else I don't hold back, and sometimes I've felt that I've hurt someone who asked for a crit but really just wanted an affirmation. I really believe that I'm doing the best thing for a writer that I know how when I'm a harsh critter. To that end, I really like the boxing analogy.
(And yeah, I try to balance criticism with praise, to soften the blow. I'm not saying I don't. But in the end, praise is most useful as a pep pill to keep a person going. Criticism, though, is what's going to help any of us get better.)