That being said, the last several weeks I've found myself bristling at any comment about my WIP that has been made. There hasn't really been a reason for the reaction, other than I just felt like I was being ripped apart. Then I realized that I was taking things way too personally. My critic group hasn't been attacking me personally, just trying to help make my work better. I've discovered how fine the line is to being able to take feedback graciously and how to misinterpret the help as attacking.
As writers, we need to be able to develop a thick skin. If we ask for feedback, take it, graciously. Even if it's harsh. Then later on decide if we agree with the criticism or not. Don't bite back or you might not continue to get honest feedback, which is really what we want. It's what makes us better writers. (Just a little side note I've discovered. If one person says something about your work, you can decide whether or not you agree with it. If three people say the same thing, I'd suggest seriously taking a look at what they are telling you.)
So even if you're not a writer, be honest it what you say. If you didn't like something, say it—although you'll probably want to have a reason why you didn't like it. If you are asked to critic someone's work, don't be afraid to give your real opinion, just don't be offended if the writer doesn't agree with you.
Here's a few tips to critiquing someone else's work:
- Be honest
- Find out what they are looking for—i.e. grammar, content, fluency, all of it
- Keep the person in the loop. Life can get busy. If it's going to take you longer than expect, tell them so they don't think you've forgotten about it. I can't tell you how many people have said they'd critic something for me, I send my stuff, hear from them once or twice, but they never finish. If you can't finish, tell them.
Nathan Bransford had a great post on the 10 commandments of editing someone's work. It's wonderful. Be sure to take a look at it. In the meantime, HAPPY WRITING!