Yesterday I wrote about what we see when we critique the writing of others versus what we see when we look at our own writing. I have always urged writers to let other writers help them through critiquing. Many of us do this on a regular basis.
But there is a group of writers who would rather walk naked through JFK Airport than allow another writer to look at what they've written. There could be a number of reasons for this feeling.
1. Self-doubt: (See my recent post on this.) If you suffer from self-doubt, you probably are not going to want to show your work to another writer. You hear this little voice in your head saying things like This is so awful. I know they'll hate it. Actually, you don't know that, you just convince yourself.
2. Fear of criticism: Nobody likes to be criticized. Our parents scolded us for not doing something the right way. Our teachers criticized us in remarks on papers handed back or when giving an oral report. Nothing makes you want to curl up in a corner and disappear than this kind of criticism. The thing to remember when another writer is critiquing your work is that it is never meant to hurt you. On the contrary, it is meant to help you end up with a publishable piece of writing. Keep that as a mantra--It's to help, not hurt.
3. Loss of privacy: We feel very protective of the stories, essays and poems we write. Our precious words are like our children--to be protected at all times. If you want your work to be the best, a critique from one or more writers can be beneficial. Let them into this part of your life so that you can become a better writer.
4. Fear that work will be stolen by another writer: There are writers who do fear this. The critiques you receive are most likely going to be from writers that you know personally or belong to an online group together. They are not strangers off the street, so the odds of something being stolen are very minute.
5. Knowing that it is not your best work: If this is the case, hold back on asking for a critique until you have polished that piece of writing until it shines. Revise, edit, revise, edit--do it as long as it takes for you be satisfied with what your end product is. More than likely, whoever critiques your work is going to find more for you to work on. But that's exactly the reason we ask for help. It's much better to receive a list of suggestions from a critique than a rejection from an editor.
6. I don't want to return the favor: If this is the reason you don't want to have someone critique your writing, I have little sympathy. It's a selfish reason. If you receive help, be willing to give it.
The biggest reason to ask for someone to critique your work is that, if you take the suggestions to heart and rework wherever the critiquer suggests, you will grow as a writer. I don't mean that you must change every little thing the critiquing person marks. You change the ones you agree with, the ones that make sense to you, the ones that you see can help this story. If you receive several critiques on one story and everyone marks the same area as a trouble spot, pay close attention. That is definitely an area you might want to work on.