The Getting Critiqued Blues

Ba da da da dum / I got the blues…
Ba da da da dum /  I got the getting critiqued blues…
Ba da da da dum /  …
the just-got-my-first-rough-critique-of-my-novel-that-I-thought-was-almost-done-and-no-body’s-gonna-like-cause-it-obviously-stinks-so-why-even-bother-blues.

Overly dramatic, perhaps? I reacted like the stereotypical writer/creative that turns critique into self-loathing.

Last week I wrote about the distinction between judgment and critique. I did so in anticipation of joining American Christian Fiction Writers‘ Scribes critique group. I quickly did my two required critiques that earned me my submission of the first chapter of Good Graces

The first two critiques were great. Complimentary, helpful, useful. This is going to be great. Then I received two critiques back to back suggesting some significant rewrites in the first half of the chapter. Both readers enjoyed it and look forward to reading more. But, being the sensitive creative type I apparently am, I only processed the suggestions for change. I have to admit, my reaction totally surprised me. I went in to this new experience fully believing that I was prepared to take the critique as a helpful tool, not as a form of judgment. But man, these critiques can hurt.

In fact, I didn’t participate much in the critique group all weekend. I wanted to just throw in the towel right then and there. The last two years of writing and working with my editor felt to now be trudging through molasses. One step forward, two steps back. But I did what some mentors have suggested and let it sit. One of these mentors is my editor. After sharing my frustration with her, she urged me to be careful how much stock I put in to one (or even two) personal opinions. They may have valid points and eventually lead me to good revisions, but they may also not fit my style, might make me lose my individual “voice.” And how awful that would be!

As I work on toughening my skin in preparation for more critique and even probable rejection (just part of the process), I wonder how you feel. If you are an author, how have you handled critiques? What helps you shake it off and keep writing? How do you ward off the Getting Critiqued Blues?

I’ll be submitting more chapters this week for critiquing — my skin a tiny bit thicker than it was last week. Here’s to the process!

2 thoughts on “The Getting Critiqued Blues

  1. Thanks for your honesty. I’m not there yet. I’ve sent my writing to friends mostly and it’s hard to tell if their, “Yeah, yeah, this is great,” is really sincere or partially because they know me and don’t want to hurt me, lol. Godspeed as you (and me!) develop that balance between a skin thick enough to take criticism appropriately and a heart still soft enough to hear the Father’s voice!

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