Critiques—writer reality checks

I love writing stories. I love tinkering with words. It’s such a joyful feeling to think, “I’ve got something here. I really think this time I’ve got something.”

And then I submit it to my critique partners.

I appreciate critiques. I really do. But honestly, sometimes I wonder if a colonoscopy would be less painful. (kidding)*

Living in a fantasy world where my manuscripts are ALWAYS PERFECT is a lovely place to be. But in the end, it is a very lonely place to be. No one else lives there. Just me.

Critique partners are great when you need help brainstorming or looking for a suggestion to get you over a writing hump. But as painful as it is, they are especially great when they act like vultures, swooping in on your fantabulous story, served up naked on a silver platter.

Sure, sure, sure, there are good things about your story, but chances are, there’s room for improvement. And no matter how nice they are about it, and how carefully they couch their suggestions, critiques of your “baby” can hurt.

“Oooo, what’s that thing? Hmmm. I don’t know … Maybe, you want to … or Hmmm, that doesn’t seem quite right. Ha! I like that part. Good start. Happy rewriting.”

Good start? “Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! They don’t get it. They don’t know what they’re talking about.” You stomp around the room. You cry. You rip up paper. You promise yourself you will never, ever, ever write again.

Then you take a deep breath, and email: “Thank you for your insightful feedback.”

Insightful? Yes, because it is. And You know it. Maybe not now, but in a month or two when you pull out your story and read it again. “Oh. Right. Aha! That would make more sense. They were right.”

Not always right and not on everything. But enough, maybe a lot. The key here is to put space between you and your critiqued manuscript. That way, you can read it with fresh eyes and from a more critical perspective.

Then comes the opportunity to write an even better version of the story.

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, and then buckle up. It’s time to submit to the critique partners again.

Lord, have mercy, because hopefully, your critique partners will not.

*(My critique partners are actually quite wonderful. I would much rather get a critique from them then a colonoscopy. They are fabulous cheerleaders on my writing journey, and I am grateful for each one of them. If you don’t feel that way about yours, you need to find a more supportive tribe.)

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