At five o’ clock this morning, I finished the manuscript of my difficult critique partner and sent it back to him. I was hyped on coffee that my cousin force-fed me, so I gleefully ran up to the kitchen to down some celebratory ice cream before leaping into bed to sleep until noon.
I wrote over five hundred comments total on the 390 pages manuscript, not to mention hundreds of grammar corrections within it. I spent seven hours on it alone between last night and this morning.
Thank God the first thing the writer wrote back (just an hour or two after I sent him the critiqued manuscript) was thank you, or I would be a very unhappy camper right now. Granted, right after his original thanking email was another email in which he told me he wanted to disagree with every other thing I said, but who cares?
The best thing about free advice: you can afford not to take it. If I critique something, the writer should feel no need to defend her/himself to me. Take my advice if you want. Delete or burn my words if you want. It makes no difference to me.
Fortunately, my next editing project is for my mom, and she’s one writer whose attitude I don’t have to worry about. I love my mom. She’s the one who got me writing in the first place.
With this whole editing experience behind me, I’m happy enough to see what it taught me about tact, appreciation, directness, and critiquing. Getting your writing critiqued will probably always sting a little, even when you know it’s good for you, even when you know the words are true.
I think it’s important to be on both the giving and receiving end of critiques. It does wonders for your bedside manner, and it sure as heck will teach you patience.