Managing Criticism

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Aren’t critique partners just the best friends ever?

I met my three critique partners in the first online novel-writing class I ever participated in at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. After the class ended, we decided to continue working together and formed a partnership. Each week two of us would submit 5,000 words for review by the group. We used the reviewing toolbar in Microsoft Word to add our comments and track changes. We also gave a brief evaluation in the body of the e-mail. These assessments often prompted further discussion on the development of a particular character or inconsistencies in the plot or any other problem areas of concern. We seldom went off schedule and always respected each others feelings. We live in four different parts of the United States and are as different as the genres we write in—literary, young adult, fantasy, and women’s contemporary. Our busy lives eventually put an end to our critiquing partnership, but we remain in touch, continuing to support one another not only in our writing but also in raising children and healthy living and blind dating. 😉

Giving Birth

In reference to my recently released novel, Saving Ben, my sister-in-law, who is not a writer but an avid reader, summed it up perfectly when she said, “I imagine that publishing a novel is like giving birth to a baby and having everyone standing around critiquing it.” Art is subjective. Whether you paint or sculpt or write blog posts, learning to overcome the tough reviews is one of the hardest things artists face. As artists, we must learn to approach our reviews with a level head and not a vulnerable heart. If the criticism is meant constructively and it makes sense to you, apply the suggestions and your work may be stronger because of it. If the criticism is malicious, intended only to demoralize you, you need to find a new critique partner. Respect is the key ingredient for a successful partnership of any kind. The best example I can think of is marriage.

Let’s face it, not everyone will love your baby as much as you do. To those that don’t, smile and say thank you and stick your tongue out at them behind their back. But whatever you do, never let them get you down. What makes a writer a success is not talent, although a certain amount of that is certainly in order. Hard work and Perseverance almost always pay off.

Discussion

What about you? Share your critique partner experience.

Where does your support come from?

writeathon

If you haven’t already, check out Rochelle Melander’s guest post, Rock the Write-A-Thon, and enter for a chance to win Write-A-Thon!

Don’t forget to WEIGH-IN with your word counts. Winner will be announced on Friday.

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8 thoughts on “Managing Criticism

  1. I’ve never really had a critique partner, my friends who are readers don’t know English, and I can only write in this language.My boyfriend usually reads over and corrects typos and things like that, but he’s not big on reading. So I usually end up asking people I’ve met online to give my projects a read and honestly tell me their thoughts. I’m not sure they really give me their honest thoughts, I think maybe just tell me what they think I want to hear. I want honest reviews to improve my work. I tend to give honest reviews, in my blog and in private critique too.

    • Have you ever considered taking an online class? That’s where I met some my critique partners. Or a website like Agent Query. People often advertise in their forums for critique partners.

      • I very recently subscribed to writers.com, they have lots of things and I’m still rowing it to understand what’s the best for me there. Maybe I’ll be able to get a critique partner there. I’m now troubled since I was given a book to review and I just cannot review it, it has so many grammar mistakes it’s virtually impossible to read. I’m still trying to see how I’ll approach the writer about this.

  2. I have 3 critique partners – 2 for novels and one that swap short stories with. One is a best friend who is trying to get a job in publishing. She was overtly nice when reading my stuff at first but when I told her it was okay to be critical – she let loose. I really appreciated that! I am a member of shewrites.com and through that I met my short story critique partner. I also entered #pitchwars and met another CP. The folks who created #pitchwars made a website to find CP’s. It is http://www.cpseek.com/

  3. I haven’t found a CP yet, but I have a few friends who can be beta readers. I don’t think they’ll give me an honest critique, though. I’m going to check out the sites some of you posted. Thanks!

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