As writers we depend on critiques to keep us on track. A critic can find blunders such as where we’ve inserted a full moon in the middle of the day, clues that never go anywhere, or discover where we’ve somehow changed a character’s name half-way through the story!
But even when we KNOW a critic is trying to help, it’s hard to contain a hard yelp upon spying our precious manuscript comment-splattered up and down its margins. A good critic will have added many positive comments as well as – well, not exactly negative comments, but places where the story can be improved.
Having worked with a very hands-on agent, where I received feedback weekly – many times NOT what I wanted to hear – has taught me the following.
1. Do your “yelping” silently. Keep the screams inside your bruised little heart. Upon first spying those annoying remarks all over your near-perfect manuscript, DO NOT react. Graciously thank your critic and scurry home to your writer’s cave to whimper alone.
2. Read the comments with an open mind. As you read you will be saying “NO, NO, NO, I can’t change THAT!” That’s OK. Say it and get it out of your system.
3. Put the manuscript aside and let the comments fester. Sigh. Yes, OF COURSE they will fester. So let them. It’s not like you can STOP them.
4. Continue to “stew” SILENTLY. Or to your spouse or children. They’re fair game. But NEVER whine to the critic. Or your friends. Really!
5. Let scenarios form and break apart at will. Like molecules in a volatile chemical mix, let your creative mind flow. Various ideas will tumble through your head. And tumble, and tumble, and tumble. . . . .
6. Trust in your creative self. After days, weeks, or even months (I sincerely hope not YEARS!) a plan will form. And to your surprise that nasty critique will have given you some really good ideas and you’re on the path to solving most of your sticky writing glitches.
7. Now you are ready to share. Bounce-off your conclusions with your colleagues and the critic. Listen to how SANE you sound. How calm and professional! AREN’T you glad you waited????
Writer’s Block Eye Pillow
(Use while employing above 7 steps)
1. Pretty 8X18 inch fabric
2. 1/8 to ¼ cup dried lavender
3. 1/2 to ¾ cup flax seeds or rice
Sew fabric on three sides, leaving one end open. Pour in the mixture of dried lavender and flax seed. Sew the end closed. Place pillow over eyes in times of stress, migraine, or writers block. Enjoy a speedy recovery!
*Variations. My rosemary plant passed away upon moving house this past summer so I added dried rosemary to my lavender mixture with fragrant results.