Last week, I talked about giving critiques and this week, I want to talk about RECEIVING critiques.
In the writing circle I run in, there’s a fair amount of critiquing going on and the most common complaint I see about GIVING critiques is the lack of grace on the part of the writer.
For example, Writer 1 asks for feedback. Writer 2 offers and provides feedback. Writer 1 becomes defensive and can even get aggressive to Writer 2 because of their feedback. Writer 2 no longer offers to critique for Writer 1 (and if Writer 1 is VERY unlucky, word spreads and NO ONE wants to critique).
Needless to say, if Writer 1 wants to grow as a writer, they must be willing to receive feedback that actually points out weak spots and be willing to improve.
I am by no means the greatest writer out there, I know that, so I depend on the review and critiques of better writers to help me grow. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s really hard to hear. Sometimes the reader doesn’t get it. Sometimes I think I’m being clear and obvious but I’m not. That means the choice is mine about how I receive the feedback.
These are a few things to keep in mind as you ask for and receive critiques:
- Receive the feedback graciously. No matter how hard it is to swallow what someone has said, it’s on me to take it with the understanding that this person wants me to improve and to become a better writer.
- You always have the choice. You can choose to accept the advice or reject it. You can choose to accept their wording suggestion or not. You can choose to take the spirit of their suggestion and integrate it into the voice of the piece. Remember, everyone has their own distinct writer’s voice, so it’s up to you to maintain a consistent voice throughout.
- Never speak poorly of a critique or critiquer. This temptation is huge, especially when you feel like your piece has been completely misunderstood or when someone offers to critique and then all they give is a thumbs up at the end. As people, we should always do our best to honor others and to act with integrity. Keep your grumbles to yourself and don’t speak badly of others.
- Seek a wide variety of critiquers if you can. Getting a wide variety of people to help widens your net and as people agree on certain spots and in certain areas, you can get a better sense of where your writing is weak. If people often are confused, then you know you need to work on clarity, and so on.
Maybe this seems like common sense stuff, and I sure hope it is, but I always find myself amazed when people don’t follow it. When those receiving feedback receive it poorly and lash out at someone who has given of their time, I find that to be in poor taste.
Receiving a critique shouldn’t be easy. The point is for them to find what is wrong and so it’s hard to open up a document after someone has been through it and see all the wrong stuff.
Don’t give up. Keep moving forward. And take some time away from the project if the critique is especially rough. Above all else, remember why you write and you will always come back to it.
Have you ever had a bad experience with critiquing? What did you do?
Write on, friends!
Other posts on critiquing: