In a recent post, I blogged about offering critique. When I asked fellow writers for their thoughts about giving and receiving critiques, I got some great feedback, but there was so much, I needed to divide the posts. Here is what my fellow authors had to say about receiving critiques.
“For the writer, don’t take it personally. Don’t defend your work. Take the advice that works, and use it. Disregard the rest, but if you hear the same suggestions more than once, listen. The best workshops I have been in have required the writer to be silent during the process. Very hard, but keeps you open.” – Julie Hennrikus
“Don’t jump to any conclusions – make notes so you will remember later what was said, but then put it out of your mind. Sit with it. Mull it over. Leave some time between the initial hearing and the actual processing.” – Jamie Wallace
“Honor and respect each other – givers and receivers. Respect the group’s time. Regardless of first draft or final, give your piece your best shot before you read it. Be open. If you’re stuck – point out your difficulty and ask for specific help and feedback.It’s difficult to give a negative criticism – respect their courage by listening carefully. Honor the desire for privacy – short term or forever.” – Susan Nye,
“Cuts bleed, remember that the skilled physician not only cuts out the tumor but in the end, he’s a member of your team making you stronger and better.” – Wendy Thomas
“Don’t defend your work during the critique process. Then take a cooling-off period. Lament, tend your wounds, then return to the ms with a fresh, productive and professional attitude. (See “Cooling-Off Period” (scroll to p. 5).) Sometimes comments from multiple people that seem contradictory and confusing at first begin to fit together in new ways when you return to them after you’ve let some time pass.” – Tracy Hahn-Burkett
“In receiving crit, consider the source (again, opinion is not necessarily fact) but if more than one person says the same thing, take the comment into consideration.” – Megan Hart
“My best advice about receiving criticism, is to sit and listen to the feedback, make notes to yourself, thank the critiquer, and then evaluate the comments later on as you consider revisions. Definitely pay attention if more than one person comments on the same section of writing in your work.” – Lisa Jackson
Over the years I’ve struggled with the demon of defensiveness when I’ve been given critique of my work. I’ve gotten better, but I still do battle every once in a while. What works best for me is to hear what is being said, make notes and then put it aside. I revisit the thoughts of others when I’ve put some time between the session and editing my work.
What are your tips and tricks for receiving criticism?
Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at Livefearlesslee.com. Her words have appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe.