Why I Love Critiques
In my post, Finding My Writing Style, I mentioned that I actively solicit critiques and feedback from others about my writing. One site that I joined, and love, is The Write Practice. The members genuinely want to help others improve their writing, so I always look forward to reading critiques they’ve left for me – even when (especially when) they’re less than positive.
I recently posted a section of a memoir to The Write Practice looking for feedback. It was about a close friend of mine that I lost to suicide many years ago.
I got quite a few critiques, and yes, they were very honest. While everyone said they loved the story premise, there were many comments on what wasn’t working. As you can imagine, critical feedback may not always be well received on such a deeply personal story.
But I love those critiques because they help me learn and grow! I have no emotional attachment to my words or phrases. I want to tell stories. And if someone can help me tell them better, I‘m open to all ideas.
Here is part of one of the critiques I got (the rest was just as helpful):
“I can tell from your writing that you are somewhat practical – you like data and facts and timelines; however, the reader of short fiction or non-fiction will probably want more observations of emotion and feeling. You don’t want them to get bogged down in numbers or other detail. As an example, beginning with “I got there in late April, and Shaundra arrived in mid-June” – you could say something like “I arrived in late April and Shaundra arrived a few months later.” (I suggest you eliminate all the info about your last roommate moving out, Shaundra in a transition room, another airman bringing her to your door – – why is any of that important?) Instead, focus on her stance, how she looked, maybe what she reminded you of, etc.”
And she was spot on! She nailed exactly why I have trouble with the creative part of writing, and then gave me suggestions to improve. How awesome is that?!
My identity isn’t wrapped up in my words. So if someone says my sentence sucks, or my words don’t make sense, I don’t take it personally. I scoop up all the feedback I can get, then decide if I want to implement it. Even if I don’t use someone’s comments, I still learn from what they’re telling me about my writing that I may be able to use to improve other works in progress (WIPs).
I want people to love the stories I tell. To feel moved by them, and get to know the people I’m writing about. And the only way that will happen is if I tell a story worth reading.
That is why I love critiques, and am grateful for those who are taking time to read my WIP and honestly assess it.