Waiting on a critique of my writing caused me anxiety last October. I had built up the courage to submit the poems to an online program called The Bridge by Brooklyn Poets. I regretted submitting them for critique within the hour of sending them. I wondered what the poetry editor would think of my work considering her experience and publication history. As I waited to hear back, I reread the poems I’d submitted. I reevaluated their quality and doubted my work. But after I read the critique, I stopped regretting my decision.
The following are three benefits I experienced from submitting my poems for critique which I believe can apply to all types of writing not just poetry.
#1. You will find where you work needs clarity.
The editor read my poems without any background information about the poems. In one poem, she advised me to reveal who I was addressing earlier in the poem. In the draft I sent her, I address the person later in the poem which made her wonder who I was referring to. Up until then, I had always known the poem was addressed to my father, and after rereading it, I understood that a reader who didn’t know me or didn’t have background information would need me to reveal this information earlier in order to understand the poem clearly. My takeaway was that a new reader, especially one who doesn’t know us well, can find the areas in our writing that are unclear and areas that need improvement.
A new reader, especially one who doesn’t know us well, can find the areas in our writing that are unclear and areas that need improvement.
#2. You’ll discover your strengths.
Getting positive comments reminds of my writing strengths. Since I’m not part of a writing circle or have a vast amount of poems published, I sometimes doubt my talent and ability to write poems. Getting a comment that praises even just one of my poems makes my poetry writing worth it and motivates me to not give up. This is a reminder that even though we’re not perfect writers, it’s important to celebrate our strengths.
#3. You’ll receive resource recommendations.
Depending on who edits your writing, every editor has invaluable information from their experiences as writers and readers. This information can be a writing strategy or a book recommendation. In my case, the editor recommended Sharon Old’s book Odes to help me revise my ode about a fire extinguisher.
What have you learned from receiving or giving writing critiques?