So many new happenings since my last update, but my favorite is that I’ve been off of coffee for nearly 2 months! And I do mean “off” since what I’ve discovered in this new year is that coffee is a drug. Yep, a drug. I’m not gonna pretend it’s been easy every step of the way, but it’s definitely one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself. Life is calmer and I’ve started down a path towards greater health. Going off coffee may have been a big one, but it will be the least of the positive changes I make in my life this year. Exciting times!
In other news, I’m still working on the passive income websites with my friend. There are so many steps to this process, but we are getting there a little bit at a time! And, whew — it does take time. All worth it and as we come closer to completion, I may start blogging a little about our journey.
With that taking up most of my hours and the rest being filled with building another friend’s website and managing social media for a small business, there’s nothing new with my creative writing project. (Other than jotting down notes here and there.) It’s ok. It will have its day. 🙂
What I’d like to get into this post is something that I’m sure every writer has been through. It’s also something that has touched my life personally lately. What is it, you ask?
Critiquing a friend’s work.
A friend recently told me about a friendship that ended between her and someone she’d known for several years. All over her critiques of his work. She says there was nothing different about her critiques; she’s read his unpublished works many times before and always gave feedback — some good, some bad, always honest. But, something was different to him this time around. He didn’t take her latest notes so well. Maybe they were too honest, too spot on. Or maybe they could have been a little more sugar coated. In any case, her experience made me weary of reading anyone’s unfinished work, especially a friend’s.
I decided to reach out to a published author and get her opinion on critiquing a friend’s work. Her advice was simple and brilliant. She called it the “critique sandwich.” Start with lots and lots praise for all that is good about the work. Then, if there are any negatives, give those, but ALWAYS with the note that it is simply your opinion. After, finish with lots and lots of more praise.
Sounds fair. Sounds like how anyone would want to receive “bad” (aka less than perfect) news about something they’ve created. I’ll definitely pull this out if I’m ever in my friend’s situation. Or, just start avoiding friendships with all writers.
Just kidding. I love writers.
I recently read a friend’s “finished” manuscript. And for me (yes, for me!), it was hard to follow. I’m not going to get into all of the technical reasons I think it’s actually an unfinished work (with a TON of potential), but there were many notes I would have made, had I been asked to critique it. (I was not, thank you God!) But, that’s not really what I’m getting at. What it brought to light for me is this:
Writing is HARD work.
There are so many layers (upon layers, upon layers) of elements in the craft of writing, that it seems for every aspect that I get a hand on only opens ten more doors to other areas I don’t fully understand. My friend’s manuscript made me realize that. He is a damn good writer with a ton of experience. Brilliant, etc. But, as with everyone on their way, he is also still growing as a writer. I’m beginning to think that most are always still growing, if not all.
As I was thinking about this over the last month, I came across a post on Jami Gold’s website about the Learning Curve of Writers. In it she goes through the four levels of competency, how a writer moves through these different stages (hopefully) and after reading it I realize that I am still on stage two, Conscious Incompetence. Not where I will be forever, but I’m grateful for being conscious of all that I need to still learn. After all, being aware of what needs to change is the first step towards changing and growing.
I hope I can find that bird’s eye view of my work so I can look deeply at it, without attachment or judgement, and edit/write according to what best serves the story. And if I’m not able to find that awareness along the way, I hope that I find the humility to allow someone to critique it in a way that lets me grow and become a better writer.
And the best, of course, would be someone who delivers it with a critique sandwich.
In Other News
I finished The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Finally! And I loved it. I love the world she created and how so much was left to the imagination between the two main characters. I was not emotionally gutted (as I expected to be when reading the back cover), but I did enjoy a very pleasant and enchanting journey with these characters, and more specifically the world she created for us!
Outside of reading, check out some of my latest music and other awesome inspirations below!
That’s all for now!
Probably one of the most inspiring performances I’ve ever seen. This is talent at its best! I’ve seriously watched this about 50 times in the last week.
I can’t quit listening to the music from it either, which I found an awesome version of here: