on Anne R. Allen:
Getting your work critiqued can be transformative. Most of us have probably experienced deep gratitude when a fellow writer shares an insight that allows us to see a weakness that we were too close to see on our own. Something that, once we act on it, transports our story to a whole new level of awesome.
Yet, even with the potential upside, many of us don’t like, and maybe even dread, getting our work critiqued. This inner resistance is so common that one university professor wrote, “Getting people to welcome feedback was the hardest thing I ever had to do as an educator.”
The resistance to feedback makes sense to me. Why? Because along with transformative comments, we get ick comments. Comments that feel unfair, infuriating, or even flat-out knuckleheaded. Maybe even a comment so upsetting it makes us never want to open up to a critique ever, ever, ever again.
Unfortunately, that is called avoidance, and we have to manage that tendency because avoidance is not an effective coping strategy. It doesn’t benefit our psyches or our health, and it certainly doesn’t help us grow as writers and storytellers.
So here we are: Receiving a critique has the potential to be transformative but is also super challenging. What are we to do?