I once heard a local author, who won an Oregon Book Award, speak. During the Q & A, someone asked him about getting critiques on his work. He said something to the effect of, “I just give my book to people who I know will say they like it.”
We all laughed.
It’s true for me. I would love to just give my work to people who say they like it. Wouldn’t that be nice?
In SCBWI, they advise us to use a critique sandwich when giving critiques. The bread—what you say first and at the end—should be something positive. The criticism should come in the middle.
It is not bad advice. I wished I had known about it earlier. As a special ed teacher, I am often in the position to give bad news.
And I try hard to follow that advice as a critiquer. I always start off with something good.
But when I think about the critiques I have received, I see that sometimes I get a thick slice of bread on the sandwich, sometimes a thin slice, and sometimes no slice at all.
When I first get them, I love the thick slices of bread the best. I can pat myself on the back. I’ve done a great job; I just have a few minor things to fix.
If the bread is thin, I’m a little less confident. Now it’s usually major things to fix, but I still feel like it’s possible. I don’t have to start over or anything.
It’s when (and not often) that I’ve gotten critiques with little or no bread that I usually felt defeated at first. I may even want to give up entirely. I have been known to shed a few tears as well.
In fact, I have a manuscript right now that I’m stalled on, because I’m still processing the feedback I’ve gotten on it.
But I’m trying to be patient. I know in the past, it takes time to see the breadless critiques for what they truly are: a gift. Since I haven't been lulled by lots of compliments, the comments stand out more. I take them more seriously. I am more apt to make major changes. And that is what makes the difference.
I’m apt to forget the nice words, but I don’t forget the critical comments. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s criticism, especially when it’s given to me straight, that make me step up my game and want to be a better writer.
So although I’d rather just hear that someone likes my work, I know it’s better for me as a writer if I hear someone doesn’t.
Still, I won't be ordering paleo sandwiches any time soon.
What do you think? How do you like your critiques? What kind of critiquer are you?
*I didn't answer this month's question, because I didn't think I could make a full blogpost out of it. But, yes, ISWG is my online writer's group. Even when in-person events were occurring, I found it hard to get to them consistently, so thank you to you all for your supportive comments that keep me going!
I also have to shout out to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, which is my online kidlit reading club. Finally, I found my tribe of adults who read kids' books.
What about you? Have you found friendships online through the blogosphere?
To sign up or read more Insecure Writer's Support Group posts, go HERE.