Yesterday I went to my first meeting with my new critique group. I used the term “group” loosely since right now it’s just me and one other writer. But we have plans to expand. It’s always interesting to meet other writers for the first time since you don’t know how they write, if they’ll like your writing, if you’re all at a level that will benefit each other, etc.
The scariest part, of course, is opening up your work to critical feedback.
I always have a hard time giving feedback. In general, I’m a people pleaser. It’s one of my fatal flaws. The one thing I could never stand doing is discouraging a writer the way I’ve been discouraged in the past. On the other hand, it doesn’t help the other writer if I offer nothing constructive, and it’s a waste of both of our time. Understanding the difficulties of giving critiques makes me want to be especially prepared and considerate when it come to receiving them.
I sought this critique group meeting because I knew I was ready for it. I already wrote “Draft Zero” of my novel during National Novel Writing Month 2010, then spent months trying to understand my characters and create a new outline. I’m settled in my new home and ready to get to work. Physically and mentally, I was prepared. But how do I prepare emotionally?
Really, it comes down to one thing: I want critical feedback. I want suggestions. I want to know the truth. Now that I have nothing distracting me (except my 2 wild monkeys, of course), I’m driving full speed ahead toward my publishing career and I know I’ll never make it without the help of others. I want to tear it apart and piece it back together more than anyone. Because I want to be a better writer. I want my story to be the best it can be, even if my story never crosses an agent’s desk.
To be emotionally prepared for a critique, tell yourself this: your story and your writing career are bigger than any comment from anyone. You have a dream and a vision for this story that can’t be broken. And, when it comes to any changes, down to the placement of a single comma, you always make the final call.
How do you prepare for receiving critiques? What about giving them?
Photo by La Grande Farmers’ Market