Current Status: Caffeinated
Food Consumed: Caramel latte & cake batter ice cream w/ cookie dough
On The iPod: Poison in our Pocket; Whitley
Word Count: Oodles of pages!
Before I found my amazing critique partner I never thought I needed one.
I wasn’t convinced by the benefits of a CP, and I certainly didn’t relish the idea of someone I didn’t know picking apart my baby before it was ready for prying eyes to see, and likewise I didn’t relish the idea of picking apart someone else’s baby. I tried it, just to be sure, and after a few emails back and forth I decided that I was right to think that this CP business wasn’t for me. I was a loner writer and I would stay a loner writer until I was published.
I met my new critique partner on Twitter, of all places (I’m actually starting to think that Twitter is the new tool that every writer must utilise, but that’s a topic for another blog post!). We bonded over injuries that left us unable to laugh or sneeze without pain, and even though my view of critiquing was still in the back of my mind, when Ali mentioned shooting a few pages off to each other for a ‘tester’ critique I thought, “why not?” We seemed to just click in those few, brief conversations on twitter, and once we’d both returned our critiques we knew we were onto a good thing.
Since that first critique I don’t think we’ve gone a day without offering each other a few words of support, a few pick-me-ups of “yes, you can do it” and “the blocks will pass.” It has been a fabulous learning curve and has certainly increased my enthusiasm for writing in general, and the benefits of having someone there who really “gets” you, and this craft. Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely ambition, and I’m only just figuring this out.
Now that I’ve found my one-and-only, amazing CP, I think everyone should have one of their own.
Critique partners are invaluable to the writing process, if only to just be there in the midst of a draft, when your brain is fuddled and you think your latest paragraph is a piece of poo and you can’t seem to get past it until you make it better, you can shoot the p in question off to your CP and get an outsider’s perspective. It really helps the sanity levels, I can tell you!
I must stress that a CP is NOT an editor!
This is something Ali and I worked out in the very beginning – we weren’t there to be an editor to each other. We were there to be test readers, in a sense. The way our relationship works, in the critiquing sense, is that we “read” a chapter, and then we give our “thoughts” on what we think works, and what doesn’t. We don’t lay down the law and say, “This section MUST be changed.” We don’t say crap. We don’t say terrible. We just give our opinion, as a reader, and lay down ideas on where we think changes could be made to the manuscript. But these are just ideas, and we both know this (thought pretty much 99% of the time we agree that these changes need to be made and we make them).
Trust is a must. If you find another writer, or even an avid reader who is ready and willing to give their opinion on your work, and you trust them, then chances are you and your chosen CP are going to work well together. It’s that simple.
So, for all those writers out there who haven’t taken the plunge yet and scored themselves a critiquing partner, what are you waiting for? Why not put out the feelers, and see what you find? And if you do find someone and you don’t gel, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of willing readers out there to choose from – find the CP that is right for you, and I guarantee you’ll never look back.
And you may just find a new best friend along the way. I know I did.
Has anyone else had experiences with a CP? If so, what did you like/not like about the experience?