“Hey, what’s up?” I answered the phone with my usual greeting.
“I’ve just been stripped naked and marched down main street.”
I swiveled away from my computer screen. She had my undivided attention.
“Do what? What are you talking about?”
My sister, critique partner and an amazing writer then explained. Seems she’d won an evaluation for her WIP (work in progress) from a noted author, teacher and blogger.
The prize evaluation had been delivered this morning, like an atom bomb, via conference call.
It wasn’t what she’d expected.
“More like a public flogging,” she said.
“Ouch, it couldn’t have been that bad.”
What else was I going to say?
“Trust me it was. I’m now rethinking not only my entire story, but my talent too.”
“Whoa, wait a second. You’ve written over 40 thousand words. You can’t throw it in the trash. I’m sure you just took the critique too seriously.”
Now let me say upfront, she is a very good writer. I hear you, you think my opinion is skewed and that may be, but let me assure you, she can tell a hell of a story.
My job at this point is to just listen and let her vent before I step in with the voice of reason.
Why am I sharing this with you? Sometimes I think we as writers need to hear more than what we are doing wrong. Anyone who steps out of their comfort zone as she did is:
- Brave! Anyone who subjects themselves to an indepth evaluation of this type is DAMN BRAVE. Definately braver than I am.
- Critiques are subjective. Opinions are like tastes, but not all are equal. As such, take with a grain of salt and move on.
- Talent like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Or in the instance of a writer, the eyes of the reader.
I’m sure she learned a lot from the author and her evaluation prize. I’m equally sure the author meant the critique to be constructive.
Why did I share this? As a reminder.
- Don’t let anyone pour cold water on your dreams.
- Absorb the positive, helpful information, and then shake off the negative.
- And remember no matter how thick your skin, some things still smart.
Read LYNNETTE LABELLE “Do You Have Thick Skin? Are You Sure?” for help dealing with rejections.
And from one writer to another, remember to write it your way!
Mechanics are important, but it’s the story that must shine.
You’ve made it this far so give me just two more seconds and hit Facebook and Twitter and share.
If you’re not already, I’d be much obliged if you would follow me @jeancogdell on Twitter or jean.cogdell on Facebook!
2 thoughts on “Do critiques discourage you?”
Critiques are hard to take, but sometimes the advice is invaluable. I try to remember where it’s coming from and how much I value the source. After a few minutes of sulking, I get down to work and figure out how to make my story better. It’s all part of the process. You are right to say never let anyone else diminish your dream. Really, there are so many views out there and not everyone will like what you write. As you say – “Absorb the positive.”
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Couldn’t agree more. Sometimes the tough love is hard to take. But often times I think we forget a little bit of sugar makes the medicine easier.