Maybe in the beginning I hated it. Okay, there's no maybe about it. I've always hated getting a crit. I remember being in art school, with my work hanging on the wall and everyone walking around it like it's an alien specimen. I still get slightly ill when I think about it.
But I had to put my big girl pants on when I started writing seriously three years ago. I had to let my work out there because I knew that it was the only way to get better. I think that's one of the differences between hobbyist writers and real writers. It's not a matter of quality or talent, necessarily. It's an openness to grow - painfully if that's what it takes - and to take on board criticism of your work.
writing group is priceless. As is the accountability of meeting every two weeks. It keeps me focused and thinking, thinking about my writing. It keeps me honest.
Two huge things I've learned from being in a writing group and routinely getting feedback:
First, consider the source. Every reader has an angle, a set of characteristics. Sure, we're all supposed to put our personal biases aside when giving a crit, but who can, really? One member of your group might dislike paranormal elements and you'll end up with notes in the margin like "doesn't feel realistic." Which might be true or might be them projecting their preferences on your work. Do not throw the baby out with the bath water and dismiss the comment, just consider the source.
Secondly, I always pay close attention to feedback I don't agree with. Maybe that's perverse, but if my initial instinct is to reject a piece of feedback as "no, that's not what's happening here" I make myself stop and look more closely at the comment and why I'm rejecting it so quickly? Half the time there's something there that I don't want to see but absolutely need to see. Understand that you have angles and biases too. Be open.
And what if you don't have a writers group? YOU NEED ONE. It can be online, informal, at a coffee shop, small or large. I put our group together after NaNoWriMo meet ups. You need to be a part of a larger community of serious writers.
Oh, and you need this book. It's genius.
By Becky Levine
And C is for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.