Nix the Grain of Salt–Be Objective!

I’ve received critiques over the last forty-eight (48) hours on the newest chapter of my current work in progress. One of the comments my critter made was “…I wanted to return the favor and be as picky as I could for you.”

The very first critique I ever received was October 2009. I sent my work of perfection into the yahoo critique group thinking I’d amaze the writers there. Did I mention I’m a little bit arrogant? Now I may have amazed them, but it certainly wasn’t because my writing was topnotch. My little baby came back riddled with corrections and comments. One critique I had was actually so harsh, I wondered if I even had what it took to become a writer.

As of today, I’ve submitted seven (7) chapters, each one a little miracle of writing. The way I boast to my husband before sending in these flawless works of art, you’d think I was the next <insert your favorite author here> in the making. Then the critiques start rolling in, and I realize “gee…I guess I’m not as great as I thought.”

Now to my critter’s quote. I wouldn’t say she was picky (somehow this word just seems so negative), but she definitely gave me a lot to work with. (Thank you Critter Julie. If you read my blog, you know who you are).  As I lay in bed last night, I thought about her comment (mostly because the word picky stood out) and reflected on the way I felt about my most recent critiques compared to the ones I’d received back in October. I realized the  emotional roller coaster (Pride–the finished chapter, Excitement–waiting for the critique, Bummed–receiving the critiques, Ego rebuilding–just take it with a grain of salt, make the changes, and move on) didn’t happen this time.

That’s not to say I didn’t have any emotions. I still nearly broke my arm trying to pat myself on the back before submitting my newest chapter. But my attitude about the critiques were different. As I read through the critiques, my thoughts drifted along the lines of “hmm, now this is helpful” rather than “man, I have a long way to go to become a writer.” Instead of having to rebuild my grand ego, I got to stay in the excited stage–“My first chapter is going to be even better once I tweak it!”

So, for you rising authors, don’t be discouraged by those critiques. Forget the thick skin (the leathery look is out) and grain of salt (be good to your heart). Try changing your attitude about the critiques. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a critter who’s “picky” and takes the time to seriously consider your work. Be objective about it and use it to your benefit–make your chapter be the best it can be.

Remember: With or without the critique, you’re still a writer. Just keep writing, cause that’s what writers do!

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