For some writers when you hear the word ‘critique’ you want to bite off all your nails. I still get a small amount of butterflies in my stomach before a critique and even more nervous when I sit in front of an editor.
While I think it is nerve wracking, I have learned so much from other people reading my work in my writing group, swapping critiques with friends over email and for paid editor appointments.
How to get the most out of a critique?
1. Sit in on a critique session at a writing group first to see what the process is like. Have agreed rules.
2. Find someone you trust or a group of writers you feel comfortable showing your work to. Talk about your expectations and then swap critiques.
3. Be open to what others have to say and listen to them fully.
You never know which bit of advice will pay off. One editor appointment I went to last year didn’t feel so great. But she gave me one fresh idea that helped transform a whole manuscript.
4. You don’t have to agree.
I sometimes get varying critiques. While helpful, it can be confusing too.
5. I choose which pieces of advice I think will work.
Sometimes I try different things and it works and other times it doesn’t.
6. It’s okay to put your work away.
Sometimes you develop a love/hate relationship with your work. One editor asked me to do something completely amazing and fresh to a manuscript I showed her. It was confronting. In fact, I was so scared it sat in a drawer for five months. Today, I pulled it out for the first time to write it.
When to get a paid critique?
I recently sent a picture book off for a manuscript assessment. I was ready for a good critique. I had worked on the manuscript and got is as polished as I could. I’d had advice from editors and had it critiqued in my writing group and I was now stuck.
To be honest, I was a little nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. I was greatly encouraged by the feedback and instead of sending me into a hole to hide, I actually couldn’t wait to get back to writing. It was the best money I have spent. It really helped me to see the strengths and weaknesses of my manuscript.
I can tell you I have learned so much from other writers letting me see their work. It is a privilege and it encourages me to show my work to them.
Hopefully, you will enjoy critiquing, as much as you can.
Do you have any tips on how to survive a critique? Share your tips below.