The Thing About Critiquing

You ever write a story that makes perfect sense to you? Of course you have, every story you write makes sense to you.

For obvious reasons.

Every scene where there’s something not explained, your mind explains it away automatically and you go on to the next scene. Every sentence that looks like it has a double meaning, your mind explains that away as well and you continue writing. And when you’re done with the first draft you see how everything is interwoven and put together and it looks like a pretty decent story.

Until, that is, it gets critiqued and ripped apart.

The thing about critiquing, and everyone knows this, is that it hurts. It always hurts. But, it is a necessary component o becoming a better writer. But, the problem is, writers often end up being so wrapped up in the fact their work is being picked apart that the message others are trying to deliver and the spots for improvement that are recognized get lost in the culling.

So, in this tip and insight, I’m going to propose something that may help soften, if not, eliminate the blow to the ego altogether because it’s getting in the way of your greatness.

Alright, here we go.

  1. Calm down- when you submit your work, understand that people are talking about the writing, not you (people talk about you when you’re famous). Try to clear your mind and remain neutral through the good and the bad. detach yourself from the writing as it isn’t just with you anymore, it’s being shared. And as such, you need to let it go and move onto the next piece you’re working on.
  2. Listen- the urge to defend your work can be as strong as the urge to look at your phone every five seconds. I know, I’ve experienced it. The key is to be confident enough in your own work to let it explain itself. That’s why it’s written and not in your head. If you don’t have enough confidence in your own work then maybe you shouldn’t be sharing it. A harsh truth, but I like being the villain.
  3. Find the consistency- people are going to say different things about your work, your job is to find the common mistake they point out, and eliminate it. Permanently. Stop trying to take in everything all at once. People suck at multitasking (even those who claim not to, they’re okay at best). The human mind is really good and highly effective at focusing on just one thing, that’s how people get really good at something and is how mastery occurs. Your job, as the one whose work is being ripped to shreds, is to find the most common mistake and eliminate that one. Once you thoroughly remove it, submit your work again and find the next common one and so on.

Writing is a long-term endeavor, a marathon, so to speak. Stop trying to make these big leaps in a short amount of time. it never works and you end up forgetting a bunch of stuff and have to double back anyway, just be patient and focus your energy on one thing at a time. Give it a try, you’ll arrive at your destination faster than you may think, with less work involved.

Till next week . . .

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