by Suzie Eller
My daughter was born jaundiced and with a birth defect. The combination of her tiny black mask to protect her eyes and casts on her legs caused people to take a second look at the nursery.
I was standing in front of the window, my belly still swollen from birth. My emotions just under the surface. A woman came up beside me and pointed at my child.
“What’s wrong with that one?”
It was an honest question. She was most likely curious, or just didn’t know. My response, however, was as if she had attacked my child with a machete.
Sometimes we respond the same way when someone critiques our words. We’ve given birth to them. We’ve prayed over them. When someone says, “Your hook is buried on the second page,” or “You need to tighten your prose,” we may act as if they are attacking our offspring.
Publishing isn’t a one-man show. It’s a team effort and receiving critique is key. The more you advance as a writer, the more team members that join in. Magazine editors. Copy editors. Acquisition editors. Marketing team. Sales team. Each of their perspectives make our work stronger. At some point we come to welcome critique—or we get stuck.
In today’s tip, we explore some tips to help you receive critique and grow through it.
Weigh who is offering the critique.
Your neighbor, your mom, and your best friend all said that your writing was perfect. Then that editor or critique partner points out a flaw.
Which carries the most weight?
It’s not that your neighbor, mom, or best friend don’t matter. They do. However, that individual who has devoted years to publishing may see something that they don’t. They are also impartial.
Weigh the critique itself.
Sometimes a critique isn’t that great. It happens. However, usually there’s benefit in a critique from a seasoned writer, or critique group.
Even if you don’t like the critique, let the words soak in. Don’t respond emotionally. If you need, give it a day or two before picking your manuscript up to read it in light of their suggestions. You might be surprised at what you find.
Weigh the benefits.
Last year I went through my blog to update or eliminate old posts. I was stunned by the difference that eight years makes.
I deleted some of the posts so fast they whizzed past me on the screen to the trash. Others had potential. I could clearly see the evidence of growth as the years of blog posts passed by.
The benefits of critique are long term. It’ll make you a better writer, if you allow it.
YOUR ASSIGNMENT IF YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT
- Find an old blog post or piece of writing. Do a critique of it.
- Note one polishing point (how to make it stronger) and one praise point for that piece. Share those here.
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