The Benefits of Critique

I realized this week that there is one massive benefit to having your work critiqued. Beyond finding mistakes, it gives you a tougher skin.

I am a member of several different writing sites, where I can post various forms of writing and get feedback. Usually when I post, my frame of mind is: alright, now wait for the compliments to role in. I know, I know, pretty conceded, but i can’t help it. I love what I write, and I expect everyone else to love it, too.

However, experience has taught me that there will always be at least one “real” mistake, and several subjective ones. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve rolled my eyes at someone’s suggestion or thrown up my arms (figuratively) in exasperation. It hurts when people say, “What you’ve just spent the last three years on doesn’t make any sense.” Or “you’ll never sell that”. But if we’re being truthful, even if you land an agent, sell to a publisher and end up a bestseller, there will always be critics. You can’t please everyone.

That’s what I tell myself while I read through suggestions. If it’s about grammar, I usually take the advice, all other suggestions must be taken with a heaping pile of salt. On one of the sites I use, there’s a particular person or two whose advice usually isn’t helpful. It fits their mold for what sci-fi is and what should be included, not what I’m aiming for. That being said, I always try to consider their advice. I’m not so conceded as to think I’m above improvement, in fact, self improvement is what I’m all about. Static writing practices will get you nowhere.

That’s where the thick skin comes in. If someone’s willing to read your work and comment on it, it means they care. That’s always something to remember, because if they didn’t, they’d be doing something else. So even when someone’s criticism is a little harsh, be thankful, because if they’re right, they caught something you didn’t.


A few good sites for writers:

Writer’s Carnival



4 thoughts on “The Benefits of Critique

  1. Do I become one of “those people” if I point out you spelled “conceited” wrong? Haha! I’m actually only pointing it out because it made me laugh in the context. Seriously though, I have been stalking the query review posts on QueryTracker’s forum, because I’m in the middle of writing my first query letter and you always have such thoughtful and spot-on advice! Participating in sometimes painful critiques has made you more than thick-skinned. It has honed your writing instincts.

    1. ha! only one misspelled world! like i said, always one “real” mistake. well, i suppose i won’t correct it now.

      i’ve found querytracker to be a very helpful site. more so than agentqueryconnect. the feedback on QT is much friendlier, though not lacking in helpfulness. you can also post other things, like your opening chapter and pitches. i’ve gotten a lot of priceless advice. hope to see ya there. 🙂

  2. Hi Valerie,

    My wife is usually the first one of “those people” to see and criticize my work. She’s surprisingly harsh with her criticism sometimes, and I greatly appreciate her for it. Even though I’m a grammar nazi, she always catches things I somehow miss. I always make sure my writing passes the muster with her before I send it off to be professionally edited.

    Thick skin is a must as a writer. As heartbreaking as it can be, sometimes one of our babies needs an amputation, and we’re the last to see it. As you say, if someone takes the time to read our work and comment on it, then they obviously care.

    Valerie, thanks for sharing such valuable information! I will be sure to check out the sites you recommend.


    1. hey joey! i hope you enjoy the sites, they’re pretty helpful. 🙂

      my husband is an attorney with a critical and unforgiving eye. unfortunately, for the sake of our marriage it’s best he doesn’t read my work. he did once and we fought about it for two days.

      i figure if i ever get published he can be as critical as he wants. 🙂

      i try to vary my readers in age and experience. you never know who’s going to pick up on what.

      thanks for commenting!

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