Earlier this week, Katherine from my critique group, sent a link to a post by Rachelle Gardner about developing a thick skin as a writer. Gardner points out that it will likely never happen, but that you will survive.
I’ve been in the Raintree Writers since 2003 and myself and author, Patricia Stoltey, are the only original members (we’ve obviously scared everyone off). We’ve had to learn to not only take criticism, but to give feedback in a constructive way. Over the years, there might have been a tear or two shed by members (and it’s not because someone ate the last piece of chocolate on the table). It’s because writing is a personal endeavor and when you’re first starting out, it’s like watching your toddler trip and fall on the playground for the first time. You want to yell at whoever left the little dump truck half buried in the sand for your two-and-a-half foot tall cherub to trip over. Then you want to cry (which you probably will do).
There’s no crying in critique group. Unless they’re tears of joy, no one should cry. You’re there to give honest, but constructive feedback. Always include positive comments interspersed in your critique and approach your concerns with sensitivity. Chances are, if it’s something that needs addressing, others will chime in, too, so don’t channel your inner Simon Cowell. I also think it’s important to never should on anyone. You should have the aliens invade before the birthday party, or You should make this character funnier.
Laura Powers, one of our critique group members, said it best:
“You can’t let others dictate your story. Fellow writers are great for offering another perspective, spotting problems, sharing techniques, and helping you through creative blocks, but we are just passengers on your ride. You are driving the bus.”
And I’ll leave you with that.