Editing can be a drag. Frustrating. Head-pounding. Cry-into-a-bucket-of-Ben-&-Jerry’s-bad. BUT like all stinky things, there are ways to plug our nose and reduce the gag response. One of those ways, for me, was finding a crit (critique) partner.
The ideal crit partner is another writer who is compatible with you. They are excited about their work and enthusiastic about yours. This person has the desire to get published and to see you published too. They understand the industry, the rules and the taboos.
Critique partnerships are like a tiny two (wo)man support group, where you can encourage, advise, cry, rant and hope together without fear of judgement. Critiquing is actually pretty fun.
Once you find your perfect match, you and your crit partner will develop a system of trading pages. I find that trading one chapter at a time is great. For one thing, you are getting out of your own head in order to read someone else’s stuff everyday or two. That is a huge help in avoiding writer-brain.
Writer-brain- an epidemic wherein the writer’s brain begins to harden into cement and then dissolve into dust. This affliction is specific to writers and those who stare at and/or wrestle with the same manuscript over lengthy periods of time are at greatest risk. Writers brain=bad.
Secondly, one chapter is enough to keep the flow flowing. Neither partner will become bogged down, pulled away from their work too long, and then stop writing alltogether, like your french pen pal in third grade. Instead, the turnover will keep it fresh, easy, and interesting. Next, seeing some of your mistakes on someone elses stuff is nice. it reminds you that we all struggle with similar things. Seeing someone else do it is refreshing and correcting them will help you to catch those mistakes the next time you start to do it.
Finally, and this may be the best (not the biggest reason we look for a crit partner, but the best reason that we end up with) thing about getting a crit partner: you get a friend. I don’t care who you are, if you don’t have the support and encouragement of someone who really gets what you are up against in writing, then you will fail. You will lose your drive and determination. You will step back, take a break and in a decade you will wish you had marched on. How many people you know quit college for a semester – way more than a semester ago? It’s hard to get back into something that you’ve walked away from.
Writers are an incredibly diverse and powerful subculture in our society. We are snarky and ornery and passionate. Most people don’t know what to make of us, and we need to stick together. So, I encourage you, if you are serious about publication, hang out with writers, GET. ON. TWITTER, set up accounts at lebrary and absolute write and other sites for writers. Follow blogs and make friends. Find someone you click with and just ask. I guarantee you that you will not have to look far to find a crit partner.
Having said all of that, I must admit that though I have wanted to find a writer to trade pages with for months, I just never asked. Not to mention that I have been throwing every page I write at my dear and freaking fabulous cousin, Nikki Brandyberry. Hey, she loves me and she loves to read, but seriously, she’d like to beta for more than just me 24/7 AND she reads real life published books too.*Imagine that* So, finding a crit partner was like a dream come true. BUT, I didn’t find her. She found me.
I’d love to tell you more about her, but I will save that for another day. This week’s Writer Wednesday will be for her, the lovely, the super-mega-fun-and-happy Valerie Haight.
Until then, tell me, do you have a crit partner? Who are they and where did you find them??