Digesting Critique

I have a rule for myself. After I’ve attended my writers’ workshop and had a manuscript critiqued, I don’t work on that manuscript for at least a day or so, more sometimes. It might be tempting to go home and immediately page through my notes and the written comments and get started, or to start writing the next section of the novel, or redoing scenes, but I’ve discovered that just doesn’t work for me. I need time to digest.

I do a lot of my thinking beneath the surface. I often make non-writing decisions that way, as well; I look up some information, read it, then go and do something else. Later, the answer will float to the surface of my mind. Writing often works that way for me, too.

This method is in conflict, a little, with my “write a crappy first draft” method of finishing a complete story before I can rewrite, but I’ve made it work, since no one’s method is always the same. It may be an uneasy co-existence, but for me it’s been a fruitful one.

After I’ve left the meeting, I stop thinking about what people said. I don’t open my notebook and look at what I’ve written there, from what they said. I don’t examine the marked-up pages I’ve received back. I don’t open the manuscript’s electronic file. I just…do something else.

Oh, and angst. I can’t forget the angst. This novel is terrible. I can never fix this. If I try to do anything like X suggested, I will fail; maybe she can do it, but I can’t. Was all my effort wasted? Will I freeze up and be unable to write anything else, ever?

It helps to know that this happens every single time. And every single time, after a few days, I figure out what to do. And it works. And my profound thanks to my workshop grow even more heartfelt.

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About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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One Response to Digesting Critique

  1. LDWatkins says:

    When I took 'creative writing' in college, releasing my efforts to the class and the prof. was the most painful, self-inflicted, exercise I've ever been through. I cringed for days both before and after. A little tougher these days, but it would still be painful.

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