Having your writing critiqued isn't always easy. And for some of us, giving feedback on someone else's writing is just as difficult. But there is an art to it, no matter if you're giving or receiving. And as a writer, you'll find yourself on both sides at some point.
The good news? Gracefully giving and receiving writing critiques are skills that can be developed, and you can start today.
Tips for Giving Writing Critiques
Tips for Gracefully Receiving Writing Critiques
Personal Experience - Both Sides of the Line
With two creative writing degrees, my work was critiqued over and over and over. Even though I’ve had my work critiqued a lot, by both people I knew and total strangers, I haven’t always taken the critiques as gracefully as I should have. While working on my master’s capstone (thesis), I spent countless hours on my 20-30 page proposal. My advisor told me I had to redo it all. It wasn’t what she was looking for, and I had followed the wrong template. I didn’t say anything to her, but my husband got an earful. Even with just a few months left of graduate school, I thought about dropping out, which was a first for me. I was embarrassed and humiliated, and I was tired. But I did finish and I used the rest of her brutally honest critiques to better my own writing. Since then, I've worked hard to develop a thicker skin when it comes to my writing.
The most important thing I learned was that a writing critique isn’t a personal attack.
As a college professor myself now, I’ve had a lot of students in my classes who didn’t take critiques well at all. I’ve had them drop the class after one graded assignment because they were embarrassed themselves. Some students have a difficult time understanding that my critiques are meant to help, to better their writing. That’s why they’re taking writing classes, right? If I didn't give honest feedback, they would never reach their writing goals. Sometimes writers need a little tough love to help them see their work objectively, enabling them to make it even better.
What's been your experience with giving or receiving feedback on your writing?
I'm an adjunct creative writing professor and freelance writer, but I dream of being a published novelist. This is my journey.