Rewrite / Redraw it
Time-consuming or difficult changes top the list, not only because they are a major setback to progress, but also because they are incredibly disappointing. Understandably, it feels like a personal rejection.
Do Something That is Already There
Sometimes a critique partner will tell you to add something that is already there. And while it is deeply satisfying to point it out, it is also frustrating to feel like your partner did not pay attention.
Change it Back to the Way it Was Before
When you fix a problem only to have a critique partner encourage you to change it back next month, you may feel stuck. It may cause you to question whether or not there is a deeper problem. Maybe there is.
Similarly, it is disheartening to receive competing feedback from different partners. But, in this case, the solution is simple because you can choose to go with your intuition.
I Don't Like it. . .
When a critique is vague or over-generalized, you are not left with a path forward. A good example is, "I don't like it." This is a bad critique.
You don't need detailed solutions for every problem. I am wary of details. When a critique partner is too specific, I question the agenda of the partner. Perhaps they are trying to add their flavor or they are making assumptions about my experience. Evaluate detailed critiques with caution.
This Reminds Me of. . .
Not many people like being compared to others. It may make them self-conscious, or feel derivative. But it is an important critique because you need to know what impressions you are leaving on your audience. You need to know if your work is derivative, even if it hurts.
The Critique Reflects Misunderstanding
Sometimes a critique can be so off-base that you wonder where it came from at all. This is a good opportunity to evaluate how you are conveying your idea.
Your Partner Has an Agenda
If a critique partner does not like rhyming picture books then they may pursue that agenda in their critique of your manuscript. This goes for any pet peeve, but it may also apply to partners who are in an adolescent stage of their careers and have a limited perspective.
Your Partner Enjoys Your Pain
Fortunately, I have not experienced this, but I have questioned the motivations of some critiques that were unnecessarily harsh. It is a subjective call. Perhaps the critique was simply tactless, or frustrating. Anyway, if you feel that your partners are working against you, then you may need to reflect on how you are handling criticism personally. If, after personal reflection, you still feel you are under attack, then perhaps the best solution is to ignore the criticism and find a new group. They can't harm your success.
Your Partner Wants to Add Their Own Flavor
This happens all the time! I suspect it is the most frequent form of critique among Illustration groups with members of competing styles. For example, a member from your group wants you to tighten a loose painting, or in a writing group, someone might like you to add humor. It is not a good critique.
Your Partner Makes it About You
This critique ignores the story altogether and instead makes assumptions about your experience, your qualifications, or even the way you introduced yourself to the group. No worries, this is just a bad critique and you can throw it out.
The Hardest Things to Hear in a Critique:
Remember that just because they are hard to hear, does not mean they are not necessary for your growth.
What is your least favorite thing to hear during a critique?
Hi, my name is Cory Shaw. I am an author and illustrator of books and book covers for children.
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