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View Full Version : Does critting rob you of creative energy?



The Lady
02-10-2007, 11:42 PM
I know there's a time in your life when you've got to crit and be critted. (Or maybe there isn't?)

I'm just wondering does anybody find the business of owing a crit back really distracting. It hangs over me like an unpaid bill plus it can take anything up to two hours to do a really good one. Then I find I'm weak and exhausted and think, oh well, at least I've done something writing related today and probably not do a whole lot of my own work.

Do you think there's a point where you need all your focus for the work you're doing yourself, never mind having to go through somebody else's writing trying to find what's good or bad about it.



Is there a point where you just have to withdraw from the writing world and get on with the business of producing your own masterpiece sans comment or input from another until you are done?

What do other people think?
How does it work for you?

veinglory
02-11-2007, 12:18 AM
Sometimes I crit and am critted, sometimes I go it alone. It goes in phases. I tend to pay crits in advance so I'm not left with them hanging over. For example -- when I don't feel like writing but do feel like critting I will go and bank some crits at places like crtiquecircle.com that I can use when the reverse is true.

ruecole
02-11-2007, 12:22 AM
Nope. Critiquing inspires me.

Rue

Pamster
02-11-2007, 12:53 AM
Nope. Critiquing inspires me.

Rue


Ditto...:)

The Lady
02-11-2007, 04:00 AM
For example -- when I don't feel like writing but do feel like critting I will go and bank some crits at places like crtiquecircle.com that I can use when the reverse is true.

Ah, but I think this might be part of the problem for me. It's a form of procrastination I think. If I wasn't involved in this a crit for a crit business, I wouldn't have any legitimate alternative to writing. When I'm finished all those crits I often feel out of steam. Oh, maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm at the end of a cycle.

veinglory
02-11-2007, 04:09 AM
So set up some writing time and turn off the internet for it? No one things steals writing time, other than not setting it aside and holding to it.

Stephanie_Gunn
02-11-2007, 05:31 PM
I've gone through periods of heavy critting (mainly through online groups) and periods of not critting at all.

I find that when I'm immersed in a novel-length MS, I don't have the energy to crit, and critting itself can become a distraction. Heading into the land of editing, critting becomes a more natural thing again.

Hm, it's been a while since I did any critting. Maybe I should start again. I learn a lot by it.

scarletpeaches
02-11-2007, 05:34 PM
I don't believe it would drain my creative juices, no.

To be, creative writing is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Don't let your creative juices atrophy!

Or something...

thethinker42
02-11-2007, 05:44 PM
My beta readers and I swap manuscripts, and I rather enjoy going through theirs, making comments, etc. Why? Because I know they're actually interested in the feedback, they have a thick skin, and they'll take my comments for what they're worth.

I do find critting to be absolute drudgery when I'm ONLY doing it because someone else -- say, on a writing group I used to belong to -- critiqued my story, so I owe them one...AND they argue with my crits, or post the story a week or two later with NO changes made, or just basically ignore everything I say. I don't want them to take my word as gospel, but I don't like wasting my time critting if they're not going to at least read my comments (or if they're going to argue with me about every single comment I make).

So, I don't mind critting unless I'm wasting my time.

inanna
02-11-2007, 10:04 PM
It helps get the juices flowing for me. I'm especially finding it useful now that I'm in the editing stage of my own WIP.

Now, I know a couple of people who teach writing fiction for a living; that is something that can zap your creative energy.

Carmy
02-11-2007, 10:14 PM
When I critique someone's work, I sometimes find errors that I'm guilty of making myself. It helps and I don't find critiquing thwarts my creativity.

lfraser
02-11-2007, 10:33 PM
I did a lot of critiques over the last year and found the process very helpful in identifying things that I was guilty of myself.

I've pretty much stopped critiquing for the time being, although I'm still reading through a novel. I found that the critiquing process robbed me of some of the time and energy I need for writing.

ChaosTitan
02-11-2007, 10:46 PM
I like to crit, it's finding time that is the problem. Like others have said, I tend to notice things in other people's work that I don't notice in my own. But once I've noticed it, and thought "hey, I've done this!" I'll be wary of it next time I go through my own manuscript.

The only time I find critting to be mentally draining is when the manuscript is just plain bad. Pointing out error after error is a bit like eyebrow plucking: painful and time consuming. But if done right and maintained, it can also be worth the effort.

Simon Woodhouse
02-11-2007, 11:37 PM
I learnt a lot from critting. Between making my own mistakes, and reading other people's, I've learnt a lot more than from reading 'how to write' books. The only thing that bothers me about the process is not getting a thank you. It takes me at least two hours to do a decent crit, and giving a perfect stranger your time is the equivalent of giving them money.

The Lady
02-12-2007, 01:05 AM
I found that the critiquing process robbed me of some of the time and energy I need for writing.


Ah ha, somebody agrees with me.

I agree that the critting process has been invaluable for all the reasons others have mentioned above. Although I must say, it never once made me feel in any way creative, like some people have found. Maybe because I completely switch off the creative part of myself in order to do a crit. Only once ever did I come across a fabulous idea in a story that just had been completley under done by the original writer.
I got all excited trying to think of ways she could pick it up and run with it. Then I realised it was her baby not mine and I just advised her to try and develop the idea.

Some people seem to be like me. Once you get into the creative flow of your story I think it's important that every time you sit at your computer or desk,that it's her you spend the time with. Obviously, my muse requires me to be faithful:D

ChaosTitan
02-12-2007, 01:40 AM
Although I must say, it never once made me feel in any way creative, like some people have found. Maybe because I completely switch off the creative part of myself in order to do a crit.

Critting doesn't make me feel creative. It helps me learn more about the mechanics of writing. Picking apart someone else's story is a good way to learn how to pick apart my own stuff.

veinglory
02-12-2007, 01:46 AM
I'm not sure I even feel that creative when I write. It's something I do and enjoy but no muses are required.

The Lady
02-12-2007, 02:21 AM
No I definitely have a muse. Perhaps even a committee of muses. They're always tap tapping with ideas and suggestions to make the story even even better. It's a whole different buzz when you write as opposed to when you edit. (Except for my own stuff, I actually do find that creative because I have the right to change and rework my own writing)

Finishing a crit for someone else is like housework. It's done and you're glad and the place is sparkling but there's no high.

Writing is something different. It gives and it takes.

Ah, I'm not explaining it very well.

I think a part of my problem with critting has to do with my personality. I like to get mundane stuff out of the way. So a crit is a bit of a nagging itch in my head. I don't actually mind ones I just come upon. You know if I see a story and I feel I can add a comment or two that might be helpful. It's when I know I have seven to do that it drives me crazy.

BTW, that's a work practise on another site. We submit a story in a particular section and then crit all the others submitted in that section. I enjoyed it for a while. Now I find it takes up all my writing energy for a day to get the stories read and the crits in.

So I guess I'm going to have to stop. Maybe others are doing it quicker than me or they're just more energetic or something but I can't keep it all going.

WriterInChains
02-12-2007, 03:50 AM
I enjoy critting, and it energizes me except in two types of cases: if the writing is rough enough that I don't think it's ready for a crit (& I feel like I can't be of any real help because too much has to change); I know the person will be upset by what I have to say.

The second case isn't a problem for me at the moment, but it has been in the past. THAT's a real energy-zapper, knowing the person will try to defend the existing work despite asking me to tell them where it needs to be improved. Sure, it's not easy to hear your masterpiece isn't quite there yet, but don't ask the question if you don't want to know the answer.

With the exception of one short story, I don't ask for crits until I think the work is nearly there, or actually completed. I get to find out I'm at least a little bit wrong, but that's why I ask for them in the first place.

That said, I love giving crits when the work is ready for one, and the writer is gracious about it. I'm selfish, I give crits as much for myself as to help the writer - I learn a lot from each one. Hopefully, that'll eventually translate into better writing with my name on it. :)

The_Merf
02-12-2007, 04:09 AM
When I used to do stuff for Critters, it really exhausted me, and by the time I was done with my crits, the last thing I wanted to do was work on my own work. Perhaps it's my style of critting; I'm an invasive little busy-body, and I usually try and rewrite passages from the work as illustrative examples of the general comments that I make. Perhaps this is what tires me out?

I trade a set number of pages with a friend every week, and that face-to-face interaction is very refreshing, but I don't do a lot of rewriting with his own work because his voice is very distinctive and I can't really mimic it well.

The Lady
02-12-2007, 04:18 AM
I'm inclined to think for some of us, critting is part of the learning curve. There comes a time to leave it behind and move on. It's too draining to do simultaneously with focusing on a big work.



When I used to do stuff for Critters, it really exhausted me, and by the time I was done with my crits, the last thing I wanted to do was work on my own work.

That's how it is for me too. It's why I'm going to stop critting.

TrainofThought
02-12-2007, 04:56 AM
I learn from crits and being critted, but it doesnít make me feel creative. Itís part of the course in growing and practicing writing skills. I went through three revisions without a beta reader, so it was time to get outside input.

I set deadlines and manage time to do both without compromising my work. Some people take on too many projects robbing the writer and them of time well spent - reduced energies and a blasť attitude. My two cents.

lfraser
02-13-2007, 09:32 AM
When I used to do stuff for Critters, it really exhausted me, and by the time I was done with my crits, the last thing I wanted to do was work on my own work. Perhaps it's my style of critting; I'm an invasive little busy-body, and I usually try and rewrite passages from the work as illustrative examples of the general comments that I make. Perhaps this is what tires me out?

I had a similar problem with weekly quotas for crits. I worked very hard on them, and spent up to six hours on a single critique. Needless to say, on those days I didn't get to my own work. It was great at first, but after a while I felt like I was spending far too much time at it, and ultimately I felt a bit silly, doing all those critiques and having no time to write anything. Part of the exercise, after all, was to have my own work critiqued, and that wasn't happening because I had nothing to submit.

Doing critiques may not use exactly the same kind of creative energy as writing, but I think it all gets drawn from the same well.

Stephanie_Gunn
02-13-2007, 05:16 PM
Doing critiques may not use exactly the same kind of creative energy as writing, but I think it all gets drawn from the same well.

I agree completely here.

I'd love to be able to do more critting - I do find it a valuable process, and it helps me to improve my own writing. It's just the time and energy that's the problem - I don't have an infinite well of either. For me, it tends to be either writing or critting, though I'd love to do both.

One thing I have noticed since I did a lot of critting a few years ago - pretty much every time I read anything I do so from the eye of critting it.

Mae
02-13-2007, 05:25 PM
I find that doing crits keeps my mind limber for my own projects.

The Lady
02-13-2007, 07:45 PM
One thing I have noticed since I did a lot of critting a few years ago - pretty much every time I read anything I do so from the eye of critting it.

Uh huh, it's pretty much ruined me for reading. There's times I long to ring up published authors and tell them about their plot problems and misplaced words adn stuff. Then I remember. Then I wonder, have they no friends who could find this stuff for them.


I had this discussion with another writing friend by email. She came to the same conclusion independently of me. She's pretty much done with critting for now as well. I think as Ifraser said, for some of us, it all draws from the same well.