Like everything in life, balance is key. But it’s also subjective, so finding a balance between your own writing and critiquing others’ can be a case of trial and error.
I’m on an online critiquing website, one I’ve had some ups and downs on but that I’ve also learned a lot from and refuse to let the bad outweigh the good because I misjudged things. There was a time early last year where I overstretched myself with other people’s work and kind of lost my own.
It’s okay to spend time reading and critiquing other stories if you need a break from your own work or just want some inspiration to help kickstart your imagination. But when it gets in the way of your writing, you have to ask yourself if this is worth it. Critting only works when both parties take a genuine interest in one another’s work. I admit I’m a slow reader at the best of times, but critiquing also takes time because I want to be throrough.
Sure, it’s hard to have to let people down, but you’re not doing them any favours by forcing critiques out of yourself when part of you might resent the time you spend on it. Explain it, and they’ll understand. I’ve had it done to me where people just can’t keep up. I was disappointed, but at the same time, I completely understood. I wouldn’t want people resenting my work because they don’t have time for their own.
I had a crazy job until last June, and although I wasn’t critting then, I had been when I started and realised it was just too much. I should have focussed on my work then worked on other people’s once I was ready to share mine.
This time, I’m being realistic with the balance and have a less demanding job that allows me time to write and critique without me feeling pressured. In fact, I could probably do more, but I want to keep a nice balance in case I get busy again. I have other hobbies too, and I want time for it all.
Account for those busier times in life or work. Sometimes we can plan around them, but sometimes, things just spring up that we’re not prepared for. Don’t fill too much of your free time with critiquing because if you lose that time, you’ll just end up using your writing time. We all get busy and we all understand when things need to take a backseat.
Balance is key to everything, even writing. Find your balance and don’t let the pressure get to you. Writing should be fun and passionate and imaginative, not a chore to appease others out of obligation. If they’re good crit buddies, then they’ll understand and wait for you.