Monday, December 12, 2022

Overcoming the Fear of Getting Your Manuscript Critiqued

I majored in Creative Writing in college so I quickly got used to giving and receiving critiques without making them personal. But for a lot of writers, that’s a difficult thing to accomplish, especially in the beginning.

I have friends who have told me their horror stories: showing up for their first-ever in-person professional writing critique, only to retreat to their room and cry for hours. But they said as hard as it was to hear the feedback, the person giving it was absolutely correct. My friends’ eyes were opened to how much work they had to do and how much they had to learn about writing.

It’s not so much about how to give a critique or how to implement someone else’s suggestions, but how to prepare mentally to receive one in the first place (or 21st place) so that you don’t take it personally.

After all, writing is about the READER.

The Importance of Getting a Critique

Beta readers and critique partners are the lifelines to taking your writing to the next level. Without feedback on your manuscripts, it’s hard to see your blind spots. Do you need help with characterization, plot, setting, tense, verb choice, weak sentence structure, point of view, theme, voice?

Getting a critique, or any kind of feedback (from another writer) is especially helpful in making your writing the best it can be. The reader needs to understand your story, poem, essay, or book in as few words as possible. And of course, when an editor gets a hold of your writing, there will be even more revision work to do. And you’ll be prepared for it.

When you’re able to accept constructive criticism (i.e. a critique), you’ll experience the following benefits…
  • See it for what it is – helpful feedback
  • Become a better writer
  • Make changes that can have a positive impact on your manuscripts
  • Increase your confidence as a writer
  • Earn the trust of your critique partners and/or beta readers because they’ll know they can be honest and you won’t take offense


Prepare to Receive Writing Feedback

Getting in the right mindset to receive feedback for your manuscript will help you incorporate the advice without taking it personally. Some feedback will resonate with you more than other comments. Remember that you don’t have to make every single change that is suggested to you. Knowing this makes it easier to hear the feedback without getting defensive.

If you feel the need to explain yourself, don’t. To put it simply, your writing wasn’t clear. Revise your writing so it’s clear to the reader. Be aware of your emotional state and create a positive mindset. You can prepare to receive feedback by adopting the following mantras.
  • I always seek feedback to consistently improve my writing.
  • I am committed to growing as a writer.
  • Feedback provides me with the opportunity to become a better writer.
  • I’m receiving this feedback because my critique partners want to help me polish my writing.
  • If I want to improve, feedback provides perspectives from others that can open my eyes to pitfalls or weaknesses in my writing.

Getting Your Manuscript Critiqued

Attending a writing retreat can be a safe place to find a new reader for your manuscript. Especially if you don’t know where else to look for feedback. Getting feedback from other writers is extremely important. Your family and friends may love you, but if they aren’t writers, or at the very least avid readers, they won’t be able to point out where your writing falls short or give suggestions for how to improve it.

No matter where you find a beta reader or a critique partner, keep the following tips in mind so that you take their feedback personally.
  1. Listen actively while the other person gives feedback and explains their thinking.
  2. Ask clarifying questions so you understand where they’re coming from.
  3. Take notes. Don’t interrupt.
  4. Consider the other person's point of view. Remember that revision creates polished writing.
  5. Let the critique sit for a while and allow reflection time. Then you can decide what suggestions to keep and what to ignore.
Whether you get a professional critique at a writer’s retreat (you can start planning for next year now) or find someone on social media to give you feedback, remember that they have your best interest at heart. Even if it makes you feel like crap and run to your room and cry for hours. That’s okay.

Give yourself some space to feel the pain. Then when you’re ready, pick yourself up and dust off the negativity so you can dive into your manuscript with fresh eyes and start making improvements. Start with the ones that make sense and resonate with you. Then keep going.


Keep writing, keep running.

Christie :)

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