Thursday, September 12, 2013

Know Thy Critic

work with writing partner in personCritics are my friends. Say it with me. Critics are my friends. Again. Critics are my friends.

This is my mantra when I'm in "editing mode," and it should be yours too.

I have one caveat, however. Find someone you've met in the flesh to be your critic. Meet with them and hear the words they are critiquing rolling off of their lips. Feel the emotions that they are evoking when they read your work back to you. Hear the chunkiness. Cringe at the awkwardness. Don't be afraid to see your writing through another's eyes. You will blossom. You will improve organically this way.

To parallel, athletes are forced to watch themselves on video, to labor over their mistakes with a fine tooth comb. Sports are all about agility, fluidity and not wasting any movement. Being efficient with the skills that you have is the name of the game. The same can be said about writing, the only difference being that writing is made to be read, not watched. Therefore, you must hear your work.

One critic recently told me this not long ago:
As with any critique it is personal but I don't like it when the description: a) Treats me like an idiotb) The images are unclearc) Halts the story 
I appreciated her critique (even though I felt like the first piece of advice on the list was a bit too blunt, but thankfully she said my writing only made her feel b and c). It was very kind of her to spend her own time helping me. And I really do think I have a level head and am ready to be told what is good and what sucks about my writing, and to learn and grow from that information. But something kept bothering me about accepting the advice of a complete stranger. I couldn't put my finger on it but I knew the answer was right there in front of my face like a dangling carrot.

It took me until today, until I got down to this paragraph, actually (another miracle of writing -- slow down the whirlwind of thoughts to the speed of the keys and we learn mountains about ourselves), to understand what it is that bothered me about that girl (lady?) critiquing me. What bothered me was I didn't know her. I couldn't see, smell, touch, or hear her (or taste her for that matter). I didn't know if she was part of MY audience. I need to be with my critics to know whether or not they are my audience. In short, I don't want people outside of my target audience critiquing me and I want them to look me in the eye when they say something of mine is awful. Only then will I truly believe them. What do you think about this new rule of mine?

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