Improve, Improve, Improve – How To Critique Your Own Work

Writing is often perceived as a God-given talent: many think that you either have that talent, or you don’t. Nonetheless, writing is a skill that requires practice, just like singing, drawing, dancing and so on. With dedication and effort, you will be able to improve your writing and engage the readers more and more as you go.

However, just like in case of practicing other skills, you need to pause for a moment and pay attention to your mistakes and flaws. That is hard to do for some people because the words you write are like your children, and whenever you reread your texts you relive all the emotions you had while writing them. But unfortunately, readers don’t get to experience your emotions, they only have a piece of paper in front of them, and that piece of paper needs to have sufficient content and style to deliver your emotions. So if you want to grow, you need to be able to critique your writing adequately and improve accordingly. And here are some writing tips that you should consider using.

Set Emotions Aside

As mentioned before – people are often too emotional with their own creations. So take a deep breath, get yourself in the right mood and mindset and read through your texts carefully. Remember that you are not reading for pleasure: you are looking for the message to be clear, for the content to be accurate and understandable, for the style to be consistent and memorable. Think of yourself as a surgeon dissecting a body to discover the issue: emotions will only get in your way.

Don’t forget to take notes at this stage and write comments. If you write on paper, make sure to keep every single piece, and advice for online writers: keep track of any changes. Later on, you might find that a certain piece you trashed was actually well-written and important.

Read More

This might come off as a surprise to you, but reading more can improve your writing. Reading books or even articles can not only develop your imagination, but it will also enrich your vocabulary and knowledge in general.

By reading more you will be able to inspect many writing styles out there, examine what you like or dislike, what can be improved and so on. This will assist you in developing your own writing style and your voice. Other than that, reading others’ works can help you become a better critic, as you usually approach them objectively and with a clear mind.

Give Yourself Constructive Feedback

Most people are often extremely harsh on themselves and they beat themselves up for every single mistake. If you are like that, your criticism towards yourself has a high chance of resembling this: “Can I ever do anything right?”, “Why am I so stupid?”, “If this is the best I can do, I better get another job.”

Nonetheless, this is not the right way of critiquing your work, or anyone else’s work. You need to detach your identity and personality from the writing, it is about the text and not about you.

That is why you should try focusing on the positives and using the Feedback Sandwich method: positive – improve – positive. Try to figure out what you did well and what you still need to work on. And remember that failure and mistakes are a part of learning: even the greatest of the writers make mistakes and have doubts.

Noticing the positives can also help you be more motivated to continue working, which is why this is the best beginner writer advice.

Read it Out Loud

Another great advice for writers – read your texts out loud. This will be especially helpful if you are writing stories where there are different characters. You might have imagined different voices, accents, and tones for all of your characters, but they might sound unrealistic or unsuitable in a particular dialogue when read out loud. Other than that, this tip will help you better feel the overall flow of the piece and perfect it as you go.

Ask for Help

After you have reread the piece and taken your notes, ask someone else to read it. Ask them to focus on the parts that you yourself thought were not the best. Let them comment on the writing as well, so you can compare the opinions and get some new ideas.

Of course, you should ask someone who you think is honest and objective, you definitely don’t want anyone too negative or too nice to give their feedback.

Once again, critiquing yourself objectively is no the easiest things to do. However, after following these tips for a while you will get better. Don’t forget that it is an ongoing process and that self-improvement is a tool and that consistency is the key to success.