Okay, I will honest with you. I can't stand criticism. I loathe rejection. I find both to almost go hand in hand when it comes to a writer placing anything in anyone else's hands. That's my reality.
Yet, I want to help my fellow fearsome writers. I recently had a positive critique experience. No, the critique itself was not positive, but the experience was positive. It brodened my perspective on how critiques could be done in a casual and comforting manner.
I used to imagine writers groups or critique circles as a bunch of unpublished hacks taking a whack at your manuscripts based upon what some emotionless editor or publisher tossed upon them rejection after rejection. That didn't appeal to me. However, when a fellow writer and friend suggested that we meet for coffee to discuss each other's latest writing projects, I was relieved to get out and about for a latte and some good old fellowship. As we sat sipping our drinks, we shared abot our projects and tossed around ideas that would improve each other's work. By the time we were done, I realized that I had braved one of my fears. I had sat through a strong and constructive criticism of my work and I was left in one piece.
Here's how to do it:
- Coffee or lunch, even breakfast, serve as a great way to ease the tension.
- Talk it out. Use your own words to describe and summarize the project. Just share your ideas. If you have a sample chapter, bring it along, but you may not get to it on the first sitting.
- Be casual and comfortable. Wear jeans and a t-shirt if it's someone that you know well. Be comfortable. Be casual. Don't pull out a critique rubric or some other form from a writer's toolbox. Just talk it out and read, even let them read your stuff.
- Don't take it personal. That's a laugh, right? After all, isn't all of our work something "personal?" Try to step away from it and hear it from another perspective.