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. 😉
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.
What about you? Share your critique partner experience.
Where does your support come from?
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.