Mini Rants,  Writing Journey,  Writing World

Stop Telling Me I Need A Critique Partner!!

Okay. I’m going to be completely honest.

I get really irritated when I read writing advice and one of the bullet points is that having a critique partner is a MUST. Everyone is different. You would think that goes without saying because it applies to everything! Unfortunately, people are stupid.

They think they way THEY do things, is the ONLY WAY to do things! They think because SOME people need critique partners, it means EVERYONE needs critique partners.

Does having feedback when you’re new to writing novels help? OF COURSE IT DOES! Is it a necessity? HELL NO!

Look, I love the idea of having a critique partner. But I don’t listen! I’m hardheaded and cocky and insane. And I LOVE that about myself. I have worked EXTREMELY hard on my craft. I have SUFFERED for my craft. I have been writing for nearly my ENTIRE LIFE! If I “need” a critique partner at this point, then I need to quit.

Okay, this isn’t the same as wanting one. Having someone else look over my work gives me a tremendous amount of relief because I am highly neurotic. It takes some of the pressure off, and I appreciate the hell out of it. But I don’t “need” someone to read my crap. Not everyone does.

I’m not that kind of writer. That isn’t because I’m a “better” writer, it’s just the way I’m built. And there is nothing wrong with that. If I’m not going to listen, there is no point in me asking for help just because that’s what I “should” do.

When I want help, I ask for it. And when I ask for it, I listen. Or else I wouldn’t ask!

Okay, I DO want help sometimes. I CRAVE help sometimes. But you never know if someone is going to flake on you or not. And the truth is, people are busy. And I HATE asking people to take time out of their busy day to help me because I’m being neurotic. So I have to be pretty desperate to ask for help. And to to honest, I would almost rather trash a story then ask for help.

That’s why “Raven” is semi-trashed right now. I’m not going to ask someone to read that. I’m not desperate enough. But when I was struggling with “Discord,” I was DESPERATE to write that story. I didn’t get help on the whole thing, but I got enough to keep me writing. I asked people I KNEW were busy for their help. I even paid a content editor to look over some of it. I was desperate. And you bet your ass I listened to them. I fought for that story.

If I had a critique partner, I would never know what stories I loved that much. I would write. Ask for help. And try to fix it. It would be almost mechanical. This is just who I am. I ask for help when I’m desperate to save the story. That’s PASSION. And I need that if I’m going to get through querying and hopefully through submission and more hopefully through bad reviews one day. That passion is what keeps me going when things are not going well.

I’m not saying that the people who have critique partners don’t have passion. I’m saying that I, PERSONALLY, don’t know which stories I’m passionate enough about to fight for unless I’m completely going at it alone, because I’ve been in that trap of running around to find feedback all the time. And when I was lucky enough to actually find it, the vast majority of the time, it didn’t help me. ME, personally. Everyone is different. And there is really no reason for me to ask for feedback just because it’s what I’m “supposed” to do. Because I’m not going to listen. And I know this because it has happened. I have gotten feedback that I have completely ignored. And that is just a waste of their time.

This is how I know what to keep working on. And this is important to me. Because I have A LOT of ideas. Some writers are lucky enough to snatch the right ideas from the ether. I’m not. Some writers are lucky enough to just have ONE idea to work on at a time. I’m not. Some writers spend months crafting one story and many more months editing it. That’s not how I operate. I draft fast, and I edit faster. Most of the time, too fast to know early on if this is something I even want to work on or not. I don’t know until it’s finished, and I’m thinking about it, and I HATE it.

But it’s never a waste of MY time, because I learn something and I write fast anyway. And this way, I don’t have someone else pointing out that they love it and making me feel all guilty for wanting to abandon it.

Sometimes when I’m working on something, and I’m struggling, most of the time I quit. And there is nothing wrong with that either. I don’t love it enough to suffer for it.

So, yeah, I don’t NEED a critique partner. I only need people I trust enough to ask for help when I DO need it. Because with the way I write, I would just be wasting their time with a bunch of crap that I end up hating.

I appreciate it SO MUCH when people offer to help me. The more people I have that I can ask, the greater the likelihood I have of finding someone who can make time for me. Any help is appreciated. One chapter. Two chapters. Just the query/blurb/synopsis. Whatever. But I’m not going to bug people with something I think is crap. Because it is SO hard for me to ask, I know without a doubt that if I wanted to write it bad enough I would. I would risk it. Because I’m fighter. And I’m insane.

end rant


  • blairbburke

    I agree that it’s different for everyone, and I like to go it alone myself most of the time. It does sound like even though you may not NEED a critique partner, you do recognize the benefits of having someone read your work when it (and you) are ready for input. That’s the important thing. I would recommend you don’t stress too much about asking for help – or wait too long. Everyone’s busy but there are lots of writers who know that helping others is a way to help ourselves.

  • erickeyswriter

    Definitely agree. We’re all different. If following a certain method drains your passion, chuck it. Passions is half the battle. Maybe even 3/4ths of the battle. Keep the passion burning, go for the jugular and make the fuckers bleed. That’s just my two cents.

  • Michelle A (@SunflowerRei)

    I like the idea of having a critique partner, but I don’t know if I actually want to have one. I like figuring things out on my own; it’s how I learn. Plus, I’m stubborn. That being said, I’ve definitely benefited from the beta reading I’ve received.

    Speaking of, I may ask you to read the novella when I’m actually done fiddling with it

    • krystal jane

      So do I! I feel like it makes me a stronger writer. Of course part of being a good writer is knowing when we need help. 🙂

      You know I will totally read Pearl’s story! ^_^

  • Jodi (@perkjo)

    I think a good CP can be priceless because he/she can offer an outsider’s perspective. Of course our stories make sense to us; we wrote them. But a CP is able to tell you if it makes sense from the viewpoint of someone who doesn’t have that insider’s eye–from someone who isn’t engrossed in the story and who doesn’t already know what it’s *supposed* to sound like. I had a wonderful CP, and it’s hard for me to not say I “needed” her, because I really felt like I did.

    That being said, this was my experience, and no writer should ever be told that they MUST to do their craft a certain way. All of the pop-writerology of this generation sort of makes me laugh, because you know that writers pre-internet didn’t do half the stuff that writing blogs propagate today as ABSOLUTE MUSTS. Like, I’m sure Hemingway was sitting there, wringing his hair, thinking “I can’t publish this poem until my CP has given it the OK!”

    • krystal jane

      I am a special kind of stubborn. It’s like I KNOW I can’t catch everything, but I still THINK I can. Lol! Really though, I’ve had beta readers missing what I think on a later edit as really obvious stuff, nitpicking on the craziest things and ignoring bigger problems, and I’ve had one person in particular prone to going off on tangents about random details – it’s just not meant to be. But I will totally risk it if it’s the only way I’ll be able to finish the story. I’ll do anything for some of my babies. ^_^

      I’ve never thought about those classic writers like that though. It makes so much sense! I hear some of them had family members read their stuff, which isn’t always the same as someone you’re not related to, but so many writers didn’t have that at all.

  • Thea Landen

    I don’t have a critique partner, never did. Guess I’m not a “real” writer, then….

    Luckily, though, I do have friends that let me bounce ideas off of them. And if I’m questioning whether or not something is working out the way I want it to, I can usually find someone who will look over a chapter or two for me, but I’d never send the whole manuscript over to be picked apart. Meh, to each her own.

    • krystal jane

      A couple of chapters is about all the feedback I get, too. But I am totally about bouncing ideas off of people! That’s actually what I find the most helpful, and they can always tell me if I’m making any sense or not.

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