Accepting and Learning from Critique
Let’s take a peek at the cogs inside the machine and talk about why I write and how I write on Behind the Scenes Sunday! Today I’d like to talk about one of the most important parts of being a writer – learning how to accept and grow from critique.
Writing well is a matter of practice — do it for long enough and you are bound to improve. But a big part of improving in any artistic craft is showing your work to others and listening to their feedback. Now, this is obviously easier said than done. You’ve poured your heart and soul into a book and now you’re just supposed to give it to someone and let them tear it to pieces? And you’re supposed to be grateful for that?!
A key component of learning how to accept and grow from critique is realizing that a good critique partner is not telling you what isn’t working in your piece to hurt you – they’re doing it to help you. They are on your side. They also want the story to be as good as it was in your head. Too many people think of the relationship between artist and critic as adversarial, when really it’s a partnership (or it should be).
Once you’ve accepted that the person you’ve asked to critique your work is on your side, the other important thing to remember is this: they are critiquing the work – NOT YOU. “But I am my work!” I hear you cry. “It’s a part of me!”
Repeat this a hundred times. Write it down and put it above the place where you write. YOU ARE NOT YOUR WRITING. You’re life will get so much better once you embrace this. When someone says “I just don’t know what I was supposed to get from this passage — it seemed sloppy and not very well thought out,” they are not saying “You are sloppy and not very well thought out, you should be ashamed”. They are saying the work could improve – which you knew already, that’s why you’re asking for critique!
What’s your secret for accepting critique? Do you have a ritual around critique that makes it easier to take? Or is it just the absolute worst part of the writing process for you? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!