Working with critique partners offers huge benefits to writers. There are the obvious benefits, like getting fresh eyes to look at your writing and help you polish. Then there are benefits you might not have considered, like the fact that critique partners can help you learn and get used to taking feedback, which prepares you to work with a professional editor. If you are a writer and don’t have any critique partners, I suggest you find some. And by critique partner I don’t mean family and friends who don’t write or read much. Get other writers who will edit you and give you constructive feedback instead of giving you a simple “I liked it.”
Critique partners help point out the weaknesses of your story and writing and strengthen them. Not only do they help make you a better writer, but the more polished you are when you query, the greater odds you have of snagging an agent’s attention. Agents can get dozens of queries in one week and that means a lot of competition. Agents want polished work that doesn’t need ripped apart and completely rewritten. If an agent loves your story but fears it needs too much work yet, you might get a revise and resubmit. No matter what, learning to take feedback and edit is important and a skill every writer needs to learn.
Letting others read your work and give you feedback can be scary, but it’s an important bridge you’ll have to cross if you are serious about getting published. Having critique partners gets you used to taking feedback and letting others read your work. You’ll find ways to cope with feedback and realize that no one, including you, is a perfect writer. By the time you work with a professional editor or get a revise and resubmit from an agent, you will be a little more prepared instead of being blindsided by getting feedback for the first time. Learning to take feedback gracefully is important. Refusing to consider feedback and perform revisions will deter a house from wanting to work with you again. Same with agents; if you refuse to revise they may drop you as a client or not offer you representation in the first place.
Critique partners can also give you a sense of camaraderie. Publishing is a hard industry filled with a lot of waiting and rejection. Knowing you aren’t alone can make a huge difference. Having others to talk to and lean on can help you get through the difficult times while having someone there to celebrate the good times with. Giving feedback to your critique partners can also help you spot issues in your own writing and make you a better editor.
Critique partners are invaluable and one of the greatest assets a writer can have. Don’t let your fear of feedback or critique hold you back. Take the plunge. The results will show in your writing.