A Writer's Journey

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

Victor Hugo

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writing Wednesday: The Value of Critique

There are some people that can write without the need for an extra pair of eyes until the very end, right before submission. But even then, there are writers that go through the entire process alone, with only their own knowledge and their own views on the outcome of the manuscript. Others, like me, have those extra pair of eyes (or extra pairs, in my case) that see the process unfold as the manuscript evolves into what would eventually be the final version for submission.

Not to say that one way is wrong and everyone must go that route because with or without critique, it's really the work that speaks for itself and different people just have their own ways to get to that final product.

In my experience, I've tried writing on my own, without the extra eyes and extra input that another person can give. I don't have a degree in writing, English, or literature. The gist of my writing credibility when I first attempted writing a full length manuscript was summed up into a few creative writing classes I had taken and English courses from high school.

For the longest time, I was completely terrified of showing anything I had written to anyone for many reasons that I'm not going to get into here. I don't know at what point things had shifted, but I decided that I was going to need those extra pair of eyes.

I needed help.

I began using my social media experience to reach out to others who were in the same boat. I pored through blogs, and attended online conferences and webinars. Not only did I start gaining knowledge about the industry, but I also began striking up conversations with people who shared the same interests, who had the same ideas and experiences, and who could be someone that could help shape my attempt at a writing career for the better.

I started off with one or two people I had met at WriteOnCon and, eventually, ventured out to blog postings that helped to pair up writers with others of the like for the purpose of exchanging works for critique. It was one of the best moves I had ever made.

Not only did I make new friends, but I found writers who could take a look at what I had written and give me honest, no holds-barred input on what they felt could be improved. This experience with critique partners and beta readers also helped to thicken my skin (okay, I might still be working on this one...LOL *shifty eyes*). Their critique helped to see certain elements that I may have otherwise missed, or provide input that could potentially make the work much better.

Something to keep in mind about critique, however, is that all input is subjective. Every person has their own opinion of what should and shouldn't be. Of what is missing or what is glaringly obvious. The way the information is handled and filtered into the manuscript is all up to how the writer interprets and uses the information given.

I look back on the first draft of the very first manuscript I had written and sort of cringe. *laughs* But, I know that without that first attempt, I wouldn't have something to go back to that I could compare with how much better I've improved since then. Critique helps the writer to grow. It challenges the writer's current skills and help to shed a new light on things that might have otherwise been missed. It helps the writer to grow as a person and to take from it the good.

At least that's what it's done for me.

What are your opinions on critique? Do you think they're necessary for a writer's growth or do you think its influence does more harm than good?

And now for our regularly scheduled pretty...


  1. You know, I read your entries and I THINK THINKY THOUGHTS THAT ARE THOUGHTFUL, and then I reach the pretty at the end and my brain goes *PFT* All thoughts have escaped and been replaced with 'FFFF PRETTYYY'

    And now you know why I never have anything worthwhile to say xD

  2. I got all excited and stuff when I saw a new comment for moderation. I started reading, taking a sip of my coffee, and BAM. Out the nose it goes! *dies* Hey, in my defense, the regularly scheduled pretty was YOUR idea! *inconspicuous giggle*

    Brain dead by pretty...what a way to go. *thinks it should be this way ALWAYS*

  3. I think it's great you've reached a point with your craft and your confidence to reach out to other writers AND know what works best for you in terms of feedback. Happy writing!

    And I love JGL...

  4. Thanks! It took a while, but as Lori often says to me (as she's making a virtual swipe at my head)...baby steps! LOL

    p.s. I know, I fLOVE him too...I'm glad you enjoyed the pretty *coughs* I mean, the post... *shifty eyes*

  5. For me, one or two critiques from trusted sources are invaluable. You can never read your own work and just see what's on the page because your mind is always filling in the gaps with what you meant to say, even if it wasn't successfully conveyed onto the page. However, I do not like getting too many critiques as that way seems to lead to confusion and mayhem. :-)

  6. I think critique from people you trust is definitely helpful. Everyone has different perspectives, so I think the outside input is invaluable, even if you don't agree. Then at least you're prepared for how someone else might see an aspect of your story.

    Sometimes, I'm tempted to just scroll to the end of your posts for the pretty.....My sister was just showing me a pic of JGL for a hitrecord thing yesterday. <333

  7. I think it helps you see the work through someone else's eyes and that is a good thing. You gain perspective.

  8. Hi! I bumped into you from the award on Jeigh's blog. Congrats! And good for you for branching out and trying to connect with fellow bloggers and writers. I love this Campaign, because it's helping me do the same! And I really cherish my critique partners. They are definitely invaluable! I enjoy your blog, look forward to getting to know you more!

  9. Thanks for sharing this, especially about how you found your critique partners. I would be so nervous about putting my work out there! And I'd probably want to know about the critiquer's tastes and reading preferences so I can decide how to take their feedback. Totally agree with you that everything is subjective!