on Jane Friedman site:
My second novel started on a train to Paris and had a locomotive momentum—for months, all I did was put its words down on the page. Then the expat community led me to a drop-in workshop at Shakespeare & Company. Even though I was writing daily, it’d been years since I’d received formal feedback, but a man there appreciated my edits on his novel’s opening and offered to read mine. Thrilled by our budding friendship, I sent him my chapters.
Classic mistake. He picked apart my word choice, mocked my protagonist’s motivations, and derailed my positive energy. While he could’ve delivered his feedback in a more constructive way, in hindsight, I wasn’t ready for a critique, much less at the line level. I was still in creative mode—churning out characters and plot lines—not questioning commas. As I read through his notes, I felt defensive and disheartened. This opening was the culmination of months of work, and now I wondered if my novel was worth finishing. (Spoiler alert: it always is.)
As writers, we know that critiques are an integral part of improving our work. But we rarely learn how to receive feedback or what to do after. Since that hasty share, I’ve spent years attending and leading workshops. Here are some lessons gleaned about how to receive and grow from our critiques.