Guest post by Nicole O’Dell
In order to sculpt a work of art, the artist must nick away at it with a chisel. In order to create a beautiful piece of pottery, it must go through several phases, one of which involves fire. The same is true for your writing.
The level to which you subject your work to refinement is completely related to how great it becomes.
If I were speaking publicly, I’d repeat that for emphasis. As it is, though, I can only rely on italics. Which my critique partner would remove because the writing should stand on its own.
There are ten things you should remember about the “Accepting” part of the critique process.
1. Crave it.
You need to arrive at the place where you crave the refinement because your goal of a great piece of writing far exceeds your need for a hearty handshake and a pat on the back. Your desire to give your readers a good experience must supersede, in every way, the warm fuzzies you might feel with a nice, easy critique from your mom.
When a critique partner doesn’t like a certain paragraph, or feels it doesn’t convey what you’d intended, listen to the reasoning. Sometimes you’ll find that it didn’t work for a reason you can overlook, but sometimes, when you really listen, you can uncover an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
3. Remember the goal.
After all, what’s the point, here? Why are you having someone critique your work? It’s not so that one person will like it. Your goal is to make it better for the end-user, your reader, right? So take the comments and suggestions in with that goal in mind.
4. Consider the alternative.
The alternative to submitting to critique is that you’re on your own. No one helps you grow. You flounder with sub-par work that never gets polished to high sheen, because you’re the only one sharpening it.
5. Don’t let a critique define you.
Not as a writer or a person. Your partner is talking about a sentence, or a paragraph, not your ability as a writer, or you as a person.
- 10 steps to accepting critique: click to tweet
- Got a harsh critique? How can you accept it—or should you even try? click to tweet
6. Weed through the suggestions.
You don’t have to take them all. They are one writer’s, or one group’s, opinions. You’re free to disagree. In fact, by defending your reasoning, and tweaking your writing to support that choice, you’ve only made it stronger. Which is good because you might have to defend that same thing to an editor one day.
7. Let go.
They are only words. When your favorite paragraph or zippy metaphor finds itself on your critique partner’s chopping block, let go of your attachment and listen to the reasons why. Which goes back to number two.
8. Show gratitude.
Say thank you. Remember your critique partner is putting himself or herself out on the line to pick apart your work. It’s not always easy from that side, either. Be grateful for whatever you learn.
9. Do the work.
Now you have to go back through the work you finished and actually apply the changes and suggestions. This can be tedious and sometimes downright annoying! But it’s a necessary part of that refining we’ve been talking about. Humble yourself, and just do it.
10. Write something else.
Get back to your desk and write something else right away. Don’t let your first (or any) critique experience sidetrack you from your goal. Take what you learned and apply it to the next project. You’ll see that it gets easier, and even enjoyable over time. Trust me.
Do you find it difficult or easy to “accept” critique? Why?
Nicole O’Dell is the founder of Choose Now! ministries. She’s the author of a bunch of novels for teen girls as well as the Hot Buttons series of parenting books. She loves to speak to teens and parents at conventions and churches and is lucky enough (?) to be Valerie Comer’s critique partner.
(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)