How to Take Critique
In my opinion, the hardest thing about writing is taking critique. Writing is an art, and every writer is passionate about the work they produce. This can make some people sensitive to things they may not want to hear about their project. Here are my tips on how to reign in the emotional part of constructive feedback.
The first step is to listen. Hold your tongue and hear the critique to its entirety. Your beta readers or critique group may need time to figure out how to say what they mean, so jumping in mid-sentence before the thought is out can come across as rude or defensive on your part.
Once feedback is given, only then ask questions on parts you may be confused on. Things like ‘I don't understand what you mean by characterization’ or ‘Can you show me an example of how to do this?’ are far better responses to something you disagree with rather than an immediate reaction of ‘This is how I want it to be’ or ‘You just don’t get it.’ Give the person a chance to explain things. Try to see their point of view. If you still disagree, do it internally. No one is forcing you to make the changes. In the end that decision lies with you.
There will be times when the person giving critique is way off base. No one is perfect. An error may occur. While they read and make their notes, they may skip the next line or word or phrase. Something like ‘I wish you’d describe the physical appearance of the character’ when you have a line or two devoted to that. Calmly point out the part where you put that information. You can ask if it was clear enough, if they missed it, or if they meant they wanted more from that section.
Every critique is important to hear and digest, be it from a casual reader, writer, author, editor, and everyone in between. They all have different backgrounds and preferences which can be amazing for your piece if you maintain an open mind. Change your way of thinking—the way you approach feedback. They aren’t there to put you down, they are there to lift you up. To help.
Unfortunately, some may have ill-intent when looking over your writing. Those you need to take in stride and remember not everyone is kind. If you put yourself out there enough, you’ll figure out how to spot them. Dealing with their words becomes easier the more you subject yourself to it. Keep your cool, but give them the courtesy of your ear. You can learn things from surprising sources.
The biggest thing that helped me get through the toughness of critique was exposure. The more I received, the easier it became to roll unnecessary comments off my back and latch on to the helpful suggestions that really make my story shine. Surround yourself with the right people—ones that want to see you grow and succeed.
And finally, above all else, always thank the person. Be kind. The only thing you have true control over is your words and actions, so why not put a little more positive energy into the world?
If you have any specific questions about critique, ask me below.