Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Taking Critiques

It's not easy to take critiques, especially in the early days of letting someone else read what you wrote. It's important, though. Really important. Critiques—especially the ones that can be hard to take—often make the difference between a good book and a GREAT book.

That's why it's important to learn how to listen to and read the notes from critique partners without taking it personally. Because it's not personal. Not really.

To be fair, there are VERY rare occasions where a critique parter will single out the writer instead of focusing on the problems in the writing. Unless that happens, though, it's the WRITING that is broken and in need of work. NOT you.

Now, as easy as it is to say all this, it's not always simple to apply it. I've been receiving critiques for over a decade, and much of it coming from the anonymous critiquers on the internet, which means they CAN make it personal without caring. But a few months ago, I got some serious notes from my critique group on pages I really thought were much better than they turned out to be. I didn't take it personally, but it still made me bristle. I WANTED to take it personally, and I wanted to fight back.

You know what I did, though? I talked back a little, then readjusted my attitude and started asking questions intended to help me understand what was wrong, what I missed in my delivery, and how they thought I could make it better. It took a lot of humility and didn't feel much better, even with the attitude adjustment, but I LEARNED.

Giles still has a lot going on, but he's getting his act together, slowly but surely.

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