The Myths Of Critiquing

Critiquing. Oh, where to begin?

Many incorrect philosophies about critiquing abound. Most were garnered under the pretense of good intentions. Others, it is entirely unclear how they came about. But either way, let’s debunk the two greatest myths surrounding critiques, and a final one that tries to hang on after these two are exposed. For our purposes here on out, the individual roles will be referred to as the writer and the critiquer.

Myth #1

There is a “right way” to give critiques.

Background: This myth came into existence as a result of protecting the ego (or fragile psyche) of the writer. It is by far the most pervasive myth being the most detrimental to a writer’s progress and the writing community as a whole. Almost every myth hereafter has been influenced by the imbalance of this myth. It upset the symbiotic relationship of the critiquer and a writer, which is essential in a critique session.

Fact:

There is only a “right way” to receive critiques. 

One individual is not responsible for the mental/receptive state of another. In the end we can only control ourselves. We need to stop worrying about the actions of others and worry more about if our actions are limiting ourselves.

Myth #2

Critiquing is a complicated and daunting task.

Background: This an ego mechanism for the critiquer due to the unreasonable demand of Myth #1. Ironically, instead of bringing the symbiotic relationship back into balance, this myth perpetuates the problems by establishing a “those who can’t” and “those who can” class of writer.

Fact:

Critiquing, like writing, is a skill anyone can learn, and every serious writer cannot neglect learning how to do it.

With so much emphasis on the “right way” to critique, the simple and easy purpose of a critique has been bloated. A good critique has a threefold purpose:
  1. To recognize and build off of strengths.
  2. To discover flaws and weaknesses.
  3. To guide with useful suggestions.
After this it is up to the writer—or critiquer—to apply, experiment, and grow in time. Any other claim of responsibility on any individual’s part is to assume the role of a mentor, and even then a mentor cannot teach an unwilling pupil.

Now as a result of exposing these two great myths this one tries to appear.

Myth #3

Wait! Authors need ego, otherwise their work will get dominated by others.

Background: There is none to be had. Myth 3 exists because the value of one’s ego has been overstated. To most that have succumbed to the influences of Myth 1 & 2, the feeling or stating of this myth is a knee-jerk reaction to protecting ego. It reveals the damning state of things that Myths 1 & 2 have walled in, unseen from view.

Fact:

Authors don’t need an ego, their stories do.

The sooner an author/writer loses their ego; the sooner their story develops its own; the sooner they ask, hear, see, find, and understand the ego of their characters, worlds, etc. The hidden gem here is that we actually call this ego—Voice.

*Copyright and Usage: The content of Authored Posts is under copyright by the author and published by UVW with their permission.

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