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Critics – Sit Up and Listen

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By Kerri Williams

Critics - Sit Up and Listen

Photo: Pixabay

Critics – Sit Up and Listen

by Kerri Williams

Let’s take a look at critics. Not the inner critic, the one you fight with on a daily basis, but the critics who evaluate your work. There are two types of critics you’ll deal with as a creative – the professional critic (the one who gets paid to evaluate your work) and the inner circle critic (the one you choose to evaluate your work).



As creatives, you can’t avoid the professional critic. They’re out there, reviewing books and art and music and movies and just about anything that may hold an opinion.

But don’t be swayed. Critics can serve a purpose. While their job is to share their opinion on what you do, what they say could be valid. Or it could be aversive. Either way, learn from it.

Don’t let the inner critic that you own take control of this. The inner critic is not only the one that will tell you you’re a talentless hack; it’s also the one who will attack the professional critic with all sorts of justification. So pull back the inner critic, regardless of what it says, and sit for a while, let whatever the critic had to say settle in.

While you may not agree with the critic, by listening to the professional critic, it may in the long run change the way you look at your work. It may change your work – for the better. Like I said, you don’t have to agree with the critic. Just listen.

One thing I’ve learned about critics is that they’re all over the place. For every critic who hates something, there’s one out there who loves the same thing for all the same reasons the first critic hated it.

As a creative, your work is always going to be judged. You must learn to accept that, then to take the judgment in stride. Do with it what you will, but don’t let it affect your work.


Critics - Sit Up and Listen



The inner circle critics are the sought out critics. These are the people you find in critique groups, in workshops, in classes. These are the people you build around you as a sounding board for your work.

When dealing with inner circle critics, you must always remember that you chose these people, and you must find inner circle critics you can trust. But there are guidelines to follow when dealing with inner circle critics. While they may not be professionals in their circle (often some of them are), it is wise to listen. As long as the critique is done right.

Yes, there are right and wrong ways to critique a creative work. The wrong way is to say it’s wrong, or it just doesn’t work or they didn’t like it. The right way is to say why it’s wrong, why it doesn’t work and why they didn’t like it. Sometimes it could be something as simple as a matter of style, other times they may have a valid point.

Case in point. While working with an inner circle critic years ago, she read the then opening chapter to my novel. She liked the characters; she liked the story idea, but she told me that my descriptive writing needed work.

And she went on to explain that she felt like my main character was just walking through air. Ever since, I’ve paid particular attention to the surroundings of my characters’ world.

There have also been cases where I’ve received critiques and upon reading the evaluations, I realized that what they said was simply a matter of style.

With every critique, you have to know what to take and what to let go. But as with the professional critic, when you start justifying the evaluation, that’s when you’re not listening.

So take some time with valued critics. Read reviews and see if you agree or not. If you agree, figure out why. If you disagree, definitely figure out why. Knowing the why strengthens your own creative ability.


Peace on your journey – Kerri


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