If you’re a writer of any kind, at some point you’re going to reach a point in your career where you will find yourself in need of a critique or have to give one yourself.
I have been part of intense writing workshops and consistent monthly writer groups for many years. Each experience has had its positives and negatives, but one thing remains true. As writers, we need constructive criticism to grow.
Lately, I have been pondering what makes a good critique partner. What can we do as writers to lift each other up while also giving constructive feedback? I’ve come up with three key points that I try to focus on when giving critiques.
First and foremost, you have to be honest about the work you are reading. Sure, that might sound simple, but sometimes things get in the way of telling the truth.
For many of us, we pair up with our friends as critique partners. This can be complicated. If you happen to come across work that you don’t think is all that good, it can be hard to be honest to a friend. In my experience, I have always made sure to make it clear that I was honest feedback. As previously stated, writers need constructive feedback to grow, therefore, you’re really doing your friend a favor by being honest. If we just sat around stroking each others egos all say, we wouldn’t get very far.
In my personal experience, I will never forget the time I went to a week long workshop. I was 100% torn apart. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it make me grow? More than any other workshop or group I have been a part of.
With that said, don’t feel like you can’t praise each other! I have read work before that was practically perfect in every way and I proudly told them so! For every two things you say that might be a little difficult to swallow, try to throw a positive in the mix. As in most cases, balance is key.
I have been part of groups before when people go in too hard. They ignore positive feedback and find it to be useless. In reality, it’s just as important to give some positive feedback as it is to be honest. We aren’t trying to beat each other into the ground here.
Remember the workshop I mentioned earlier? They had some strict rules about balancing negative feedback with positive. It helped to balance the process. After about three days of adjusting to a real critique environment, I saw the light. Once my group noticed I was trying to improve and letting my ego go, that’s when the real magic started to happen. Which leads me to my next point…
All in all, the previous two points don’t mean anything if you aren’t open to it all. I’m not telling you to believe every single critique you get, because there will be times you disagree. The beauty of feedback is you can take what you need. You are still in control of your writing. Try and take the time to be open and to thoughtfully digest your critiques. On the other side, be open and thoughtful when you are giving them too.
We are all in this together. Creative souls unite!
Tell me, what do you think makes a good critique partner? Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Thank you for joining me here today. You can look for a new post next Thursday.
Until next time,