By Ali Cross
Do you have crocodile skin? If you do you might want to look into a good moisturizer. But if you’re a writer, having crocodile skin can be a very good thing.
I’ve mentioned that I belong to a critique group. I am also a member of Authors Incognito which includes a group of writers who are willing to critique for other members. However, at last year’s LDStorymaker’s conference, a class was given on the importance of meeting as a critique group and it prompted me to give it a try.
I am an adoptive daughter of the technological age, so I generally prefer to do things via the internet and my computer. Meeting up with a group of people, strangers even, and inviting them to not just read my work but to comment on it, was a bit disconcerting. Scratch that—it was terrifying.
We weren’t forming this group so we could tell each other how wonderful we all are. We were starting it so we could help each other be better writers, meaning, we would be giving criticism.
No matter that it has always been constructive criticism, and given to help the writer, not hinder her, it still hurts.
You know that saying “Make like a duck in water”? Well, writers need to make like crocodiles.
Crocodiles have thick scaly skin that wears like armor. But there are chinks in that armor—making it the perfect sort of skin for a writer.
As a writer, you need to have thick skin. You have to be able to let the bad advice or unhelpful criticism roll off your back, like a reptile in water, but you also have to be able to let the good advice slip in, like oxygen, through your thick scales.
Crocs aren’t pretty, to be sure, but make one your mascot and you’ll soon find yourself much more able to receive criticism without letting your tender parts get too damaged.
Fellow critiquers can be your best friends in your journey toward being published. Good critiques will help you tighten your work, get you over hurdles you can’t see your way around, and provide you with a wonderful camaraderie that will be a boon to you during times of struggle.
However, don’t forget to wear your crocodile skin when you head out to your next meeting—your friends aren’t there to rip you to shreds, they’re trying to help you. Take what’s good, and let the rest slide. But remember to be well fortified.