By: Elizabeth Houde
“Time for a critique!”
These words incite panic, fear, and dread. Even if you know that your piece needs work, the idea of being critiqued is still intimidating and even frightening.
Here are some things to keep in mind when going through critiques:
1.) The people doing the critiquing have absolutely nothing against you.
2.) Anything they say is in reference to the piece you give them. Not to your ability to write or create. It’s not about the merit of your style.
3.) If a lot of people tell you that your piece doesn’t make a lot of sense or is unclear on some point, you should probably listen to them. Chances are it’ll be the same way for a large part of your audience as well.
4.) The goal of critique is to help you improve your piece.
5.) That being said, sometimes critiques want you to take your piece to a place that you don’t want it to go or that is not in your vision. It’s okay to reject some of the advised revisions.
6.) Regardless of if the reaction to your piece is largely positive or is suggesting a lot of edits, it’s good to remember what you like about the piece.
7.) The best critiques tend to be the ones that have everyone talk about what they like in the piece before they talk about things that they think needs improvement. Beyond just boosting your own beliefs in your ability to write or create, people telling you what they like can give you insight into the way your style is received and can give you ideas about what to work on.
8.) Even if your piece is not the one being critiqued, it’s good to pay attention. Writers and artists can get ideas from critiques that are not of their own work. Experiencing others’ works is useful to see what words and ideas they have that could be good for you to use later on.
9.) We’re often told that reading and experiencing other content will help us when we go to create our own works with the idea that the expressions of others will help us to get ideas and more clearly express our own ideas and feelings. This same idea applies to critiques. You can get all of the same benefits as a writer gets from reading Jane Austen books or that an artist gets from examining the works of Frida Kahlo.
10.) Save everything! The first, the third, the twentieth drafts: all of them are important, and you might need the things in them later on.
Best of luck!