One of the best things you can do for your writing–ever–is find some solid critique partners. I’ve had quite a few over the years, and I’ve found some really solid ones. I’ve also had to walk away from a few. Not because I didn’t like them, but because we weren’t a good fit.
There’s nothing wrong with walking away from a critique partner. There are a lot of writers that won’t do it because they don’t want to hurt their CP’s feelings. That’s a legitimate worry. But if you want to be published, you need to treat writing like a job. You need to surround yourself with people who will help you. And you need to be willing to do the same for them.
Your critique partner should fit you. The best CPs I have are ones where I clicked really well with their personalities. I think that’s why so many writers have a hard time finding solid CPs. They don’t get along with the person behind the writing. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be their best friend, but there needs to be a certain level of respect and understanding between the two of you.
Your critique partner should be understanding of your time.There have been days where I’ve told my critique partners that I’m going to need extra time on something of theirs because my schedule just got too busy. There have been times when one of my CPs has said the same thing to me and it’s cool–we get it.
But if they’re constantly missing deadlines they set to get your stuff back to you, or they’re taking months (and months) they may not be a good fit for you. It’s important to have someone who cares about your writing and your writing journey, and you need to be returning the favor. If you can’t meet deadlines and you can’t seem to help them ever, don’t be surprised if they’re the ones who take a step back.
Your critique partner should be offering constructive criticism. I once had a CP who called my writing/characters stupid. And we didn’t last long. Do not stay with a critique partner who talks down to you. I’m going to say that again just because I feel like it bears repeating.
The writing community can be a pretty amazing place. I’ve met writers, like my longest-running CP Amy, who’ve become my friends. We talk about rejections, plot holes, and we brainstorm together. One of my favorite things about knowing my CPs is getting to celebrate with them when something great happens. In the last six months, two of my CPs have signed with agents, and I got to celebrate with them.
But you’re also going to meet people in the writing community who aren’t so amazing. There are going to be writers who tear you down for nothing. If you have a CP and he or she is just ugly about your writing, or about you, there’s a very good chance that relationship needs to end.
There’s a difference between offering constructive criticism and just being a jerk. I once got an email about edits from a CP on a book that was really close to my heart. She pointed out everything wrong with it, and it was kind of like “Ouch!” But she was right. And more importantly, she pointed out the problems in the kindest way possible. Honesty and kindness are two of the most important traits you can find in a critique partner.
I’ve had writers tell me they’re worried about dropping a CP that’s not working because they think they won’t find another one. Don’t do that. A bad critique partner is worse than not having one at all. Your writing is important, and it deserves a critique partner that’s going to help you nurture it. Reach out to writers. Some won’t work out and some will tell you no, but others are going to be the best critique partners you’ll ever have.
Don’t forget, I’m running a sale on partial and full manuscript edits right now. Check them out here.