Previously, we’ve talked about critique groups and how to criticize well. But equally important is the ability to accept critique from others. Taking critique is really hard no matter who you are, and it’s perfectly normal to get upset, get angry, or cry after receiving a round of critique.
So here’s some tips to chew on before your next critique:
Don’t take it personally
This should go without saying, but those doing the critique are not attacking you or your book baby just because they find something wrong with it. They are critiquing it because you respect them and wanted their feedback. They aren’t out to get you, they’re trying to help you. Maybe they didn’t word it in the kindest way, but try to squelch you defenses before they come out. Which brings us to the next tip.
It’s easy to get your hackles up and try to defend every weak place, word choice, voice change, etc. that comes up in your critique. Don’t. Don’t do that to your critics. You asked for their feedback, so listen to them and take note. If you argue every single point, they’ll assume you really don’t want/respect their advice. They are trying to help your book baby look its best for its debut. They want to help you make it better. You and your book will be better for listening, so hang up your pride and listen.
You don’t have to take every suggestion they give you. This may seem to contradict the previous two tips, but it doesn’t. It just means you give each piece of advice the time and consideration it needs. You won’t agree with everything your critique partners say; that’s just a fact. And you don’t have to. It’s your story and you ultimately decide how it’s written. However, if you separate yourself from the story and try to see it from their perspective, you may see it in ways you didn’t before.
A good way to stay on track in your critique is to come up with questions ahead of time. They can be specific to the portion being critiqued or general questions for any critique. Just keep them on hand where you can easily see and reference them. And feel free to inform and discuss (not argue) point to find a good solution or to find where the true problem lies. If an issue comes up more than once or with multiple critics, that should be explored more deeply.