Monday, September 5, 2011

Addicted to Critique

So, we can be honest with each other, right? I think we can, because you're spending your free time on reading this sentence, so there must be something special between us, yes? I thought so.

I have something to tell you, something to confess.

I am addicted  - addicted to critique. And I have no intention of seeking help.

This whole conversation came about with one of my writing buddies on Facebook. I posted that I'd entered Gennifer's Mega-Awesome Crit contest. Here's what happened:

Addicted to Crit

See what a great guy he is? See how sweet he's being? He says I'm a good writer already! I don't really need more crit.

That is really nice, and it may even be true.


1. If it is true at all, it's because of the intensive critique I've been lucky enough to get from my CPs (love you so much, ladies) AND

2. I don't want to be a good writer. I don't want my prose to be adequate. I don't want my characters and their conflicts to be convincing and believable.

That's nowhere near good enough. Not for me.

I want my sentences to cause readers to put their hands to their chests and take a deep breath because their hearts skipped a beat.
 I want my prose to sparkle and to stick in readers' heads long after the context of it is forgotten.
 I want my worlds to be so vivid that my readers can imagine themselves living there.
 I want my characters to be real enough to touch, to think about and obsess over after the story is done.
 And I want their conflicts to be heartbreaking, and their reconciliations to bring sighs of relief.

I'm not saying my stories are necessarily like that now that I've had three CPs check out my stuff, and a handful of others run a casual eye over it. But they're a whole heck of a lot closer. And the next person who is kind enough to critique my pages is going to help me make them even moreso.

So, yeah. Addicted to crit. And not accepting intervention. (But thanks for the thought.)

What about you? Are you addicted to crit?


  1. LOL, I remember that conversations.

    I'd say I'm more terrified than addicted. As helpful and inspiring as all my crit sessions have been, I'm always afraid someone is going to point out a gaping plot hole that I somehow managed to miss, or hate the characters, or tell me the whole story is just plain stupid or unoriginal or whatever godawful adjective is a writer's worst fear.

  2. I totally am also addicted to critique. I just can't get enough of it! Like you said, I want to write as best as I can and in order to do that, I'm going to have to ask other people to tell me the truth about lots of things (ie: whether or not this sentence structure works, whether or not this character is relatable, etc.)

    I don't think being addicted to critique is anything to be ashamed of. Neither is being terrified of it (hi Gina). Addicted or terrified, every writer needs at least one good, honest critique of their writing to achieve their greatest potential. Some may want more than others and some may not.

  3. Hi,

    I'm on the more side. I want my words to flow and make the reader think. As you said, to picture themselves there and feel the characters.

    It's okay to be afraid. I think we all struggle with that. As Lyla said, we need at least one honest critique of our writing.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Like my critique partner, Lyla, I am also addicted.

    When having millions of total strangers read your work is your ultimate goal, I think it's for the best to start with a jury of your peers, who will give you advice to make it better.

  5. I think it's great to be open to readers' opinions and reactions. Of course there is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. You start not knowing which advice to truly implement. I'd just be careful not to seek too much feedback before you've worked out what matters most to you in a story.

  6. Leigh Ann,
    A little over a year ago I formed a critique group and now I can't imagine writing without my partners. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses and we all strive to be the best in what we do. I believe in a critique to be one of the most important tools for a writer.

  7. I used to be terrified of critiques but now I embrace them. You learn so much about yourself and how to fix the issues you come across. It's so nice to get a different view of others when it's most important.

    I also love to critique. I find it really helpful not only for my own writing, but for my friends as well. We learn a lot from one another.

    Stick with the addiction, as long as it isn't taking away from your own story.

  8. I LOVE me a good critique! Seriously, it's so nice to have someone else's eyes review your work and find ways to improve it!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hello. I'm so impressed with your blog that I wanted to pass along an award! The original post is here:

    Good work and I can't wait to see more!

  9. Just in the last week I've found out what really GOOD critique can be like. It seems like the trick is all in finding the right partners for critique. Someone who will see what you missed, and not sugar-coat it, but also not make you feel down.

    I've received some absolutely fabulous critiques in recent days. I know that my stories are getting stronger as a result.

    Thanks for a great blog post!

  10. I AM NOW. >.<

    I didn't used to be, but then you and Gina came along and I was like, "I'M GETTING SO MUCH DONE THIS IS AWESOME CRIT MOOOOOOOOOOOOORE."

    But I definitely don't think being addicted to critique is a bad thing. Not as long as you retain the ability to discern what advice you should and shouldn't take.

  11. @Gina - Oooooh, believe me, do I know the fear. In my experience, the very things I thought would bother crit partners *did*, and then of course I realized it was because they always bothered me, too.

    @Lyla - You're totally right. Addicted or terrified, we all need it.

    @Ladonna - Glad to hear someone else is crazy enough to be in the "never good enough" camp.

    @Monica - "Millions of strangers reading" - That's a really good way to look at it!

    @Nina - Hiiii! So glad to see you here. Yeah, I've found three critique partners is good. I think I'll do a post on how I've made crit work for me...and not be overwhelmed by the "too much."

    @Angela - Absolutely! Biggest tool in our toolbox.

    @Jen - Awesome to see you over here! I think it's safe to say it hasn't taken away from my story yet, even when my CPs wish it would. ;)

    @Kadie - Squeeeee! Thank you! Can't wait to see it!!!

    @Michael - Yep! All about finding the right match. You have to be on equal writing levels, more or less, and have equal goals, I think.

    @Francesca - You just gave me the warm fuzzies, girl. Absolute pleasure to be CPs with you.

  12. I'm with you. I want to constantly be striving to get better. And better. And better. And that usually doesn't happen unless you let others into your writing. Hopefully, people smarter than you. ;)

  13. @Elana - Hiiii! Yes, I think it's safe to say that all of my CPs are waaaay smarter than I. I won the CP lottery, and I thank my lucky stars that 2/3 of them have already agreed to work on my next project.

  14. My gosh, I agree with you wholeheartedly! I lurve my crit partners and crit circles; I always come away psyched up to do revisions afterwards, even on scenes I thought I couldn't stand to revisit!

  15. Hmmm....I think it all depends on the critiquer.

    Honestly--I've tried to work with a few partners who have only written back--"Everything is awesome! I can't wait to see you published."

    Yeah--me too, but that kind of critique won't help me get there.

    I was also in a critique group for awhile, and although I loved, loved loved all the people in it, most of my pages would be returned blank.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that it all depends on the CPers.

    But I'm not complaining--I've found some AWESOME CPers online! It is just so hard to find those people.

  16. I think it's great that you embrace your passions so wholeheartedly. If critiquing is what you love, there's no reason to stop:)

  17. I am so very with you, 100%, all the way. I love critiques. I love my work to be great. Good isn't nearly good enough.

  18. I really needed to read this. I was in the critique blues today. I know in my head it will all make me a better writer, but sometimes I'm like AAAHHH!

  19. @Gail - I know the feeling about "scenes you couldn't stand to revisit." Ugh.

    @Heidi - that's so funny about the 100% positive crits! I believe those are called alpha readers. ;) I think those would be even worse for me - I would never believe them!

    @Mark - Thanks for the validation! ;)

    @Peggy - I love that go big or go home attitude. Love. It.

    @Jenny - Oh no!!! (HUGS) I know the feeling. I call it the revisions panic. It takes me 30 minutes to 24 hours to get over it. Hang in there.

  20. Leigh Ann--Ha! Not my alpha reader. She likes to say things like: "um--this entire 100 page section needs to be rewritten." I can always count on her for comments.