I remember my first workshop. It was absolutely terrifying as other students in my class listed what my story could improve on. I felt that I would never be a good enough writer. Many workshops later, I couldn’t imagine not having a story critiqued. Here’s why it is important to have others critique your work:
- A fresh pair of eyes can help you see what you missed. You imagined this story and it’s easy to connect the dots in your head but forget to put them on the page. Other readers can point these out and help you see what you haven’t explained thoroughly. Readers can catch minor plot issues that you haven’t thought of because you are so intimate with the story to begin with.
- Sometimes you just need another opinion to fix a problem that has arisen. This is where trusted author buddies are important. You need to not only have others critique your story, but they also need to be people that have valuable opinions. The last thing you need is someone giving you a critique that is along the lines of “It was soooo good!!!!!” because that’s not helpful. You need people who can say “this isn’t working because of these reasons. Here is a way to fix it.”
- Improving is important. If you have any love or passion for writing, you want to only get better. You can’t possibly get better if you don’t listen to others and see what needs work. Yes, sometimes it sucks to hear that your story is crap (and yes, it really was crap in retrospect). In reality, these critiques are extremely helpful. Going into a workshop knowing your piece isn’t perfect allows you to expect and welcome ideas on how to improve it. Once you’ve come to terms with the idea that you are in the drafting phase of your piece, critique becomes a great experience.