If you’ve shared your writing online, you’ll know that tense feeling you get the moment you click “submit” or the morning your work is about to go up for review on an automatic site. It’s scary and brave and exhilarating and nerve wracking all at the same time.
Then you get that first critique. And cry. Hah, maybe that’s just me. I’m kidding.
End of last year and throughout most of this year, I was losing more and more confidence with my work. For many reasons, I felt demeaned and not good enough. When I shared my work on a writing site last December, it was a hard hit. Not because the comments were particularly bad, but because they looked a lot like the critiques I’d received ten months earlier. I felt like nothing had changed in my work. I thought I’d failed at improving.
But that wasn’t the case. At least I realise that now. I was focussing on the negative critiques, the ones that spouted more criticism than constructive suggestions. Now, when I look back at the comments, I see them for what they are. Criticism, not critiques.
Critique should of course point out issues like obscure wording, character inconsistencies, plot holes etc. But they should also encourage writers to play on their strengths while working on their weaknesses. It’s like writing therapy.
I think every critter should ask themselves what does this person want their from work and how can I help them achieve it? If they don’t think they can offer suggestions suitable for that writer, then just don’t crit. It’s as simple as that.
We are not all writing the same novel to the same format, or any format for that matter. Rules are only made to be broken if you know why you’re breaking them. Same goes for critting.
A writer chooses to write that story or that style for a reason. So respect it. Nurture it if it’s not growing so well. Guide it until it blossoms and becomes a publishable flower of beauty. Roses, sunflowers, lilies, geraniums. They’re not all the same, but they’re all just as beautiful to those who love the romance in a rose, the happiness of sunflowers, the sad beauty in a lily, and the enduring strength of a geranium.
So don’t rip flowers from their roots just because you don’t like them.