I’m currently enrolled in an online writing course – Writing the Young Adult Novel – through Writer’s Digest University and, as is inevitable with any writing course, there are critiques.
Critiques are, unfortunately, part of being a writer. Anytime someone reads what you wrote, they are going to critique it. Sometimes they give you the feedback, sometimes you read it in the form of a review, and sometimes they think it but never give words to their thoughts. Even though I hate waiting for a critique and psych myself out, I would much rather actually receive one, especially if it includes constructive criticism, than to have no idea what people think of my work.
Waiting for my first critique was very stressful. But you know what, the stress was unfounded. In fact, it wasn’t a bad critique. What has turned out to be more difficult is critiquing the work of the other students. I want to provide constructive criticism while also providing encouragement. This is not the easiest thing to do. When I work in publishing, I often had to compile the critiques made by beta readers and then deliver them to authors. I’d like to think this work and reading all of the reviews to compile summaries, has helped me to write better critiques. But I know that’s not true. I know that when it comes to being brutally honest, I would rather sugar coat. Maybe it’s all those years I spent living in the south. Or maybe it’s because I know how devastating a negative critique can be.
When it comes down to it though, if you can’t stomach an honest critique, you won’t go far as a writer. In writing critiques for my classmates, I am appreciating just how difficult it is for editors and agents to respond to queries. I am also improving as a writer by learning to identify what works and what does not work. While the critique process is difficult, both the give and the take, I know it is helping me to become a stronger writer.
How do you feel about critiques? Do you give them? Are you brutally honest or do you try to sugar coat things? How do you find people to critique your own work?