And if you think I’m relying on you to make me a better writer, think again. Most of us come to a location like this in hopes of finding help and advice in our respective quests as writers. What we often find is disagreement, individual schools of thought, and many, many, many opposing camps set up for particular points of view on certain topics. Confusing, isn’t it? Well, hold on to your hat, because here is yet one more point of view. All those people are trying to get you to see it their way. It’s 2016! It’s the new religion! See it my way or else! Stop trying to see it anyone else’s way other than your own. Think about it: You want your writing to have your unique voice, your unique style, your unmistakable turn of phrase. Right? Right. So, how do you make that happen? The answer, as regards our venue, is to start giving critique and stop waiting to get it. Circumvent the black hole that is the Debate Room and head straight for the Writing Workshop. In the Workshop you will find a spectacular number of pieces of writing that you can treat as lessons, as exercises, as learning experiences. You should be engaging this bounteous mass of opportunity with an eye to learning and to teaching yourself. You should be dissecting every success with as keen an eye as you do every failure. You should be peeling both apart to see either what makes the clockwork so clever, or to ponder how it could have gone better. If you are there to simply shred mercilessly, you are learning nothing. If you are there to blow pink smoke up the ass of the OP, you are learning nothing. If you are there to stroke your own ego at the OP or at others, please head to pornhub.com, or perhaps engage the erotica subforum where masturbation is expected. Or perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m not qualified to critique. That’s the whole reason I came here.” You’re wrong; you are qualified. If you have an interest in reading and know when a story is interesting and when it is not, then you are qualified. You don’t have to use any of the fancy lingo you will see some members (me included) bandy about. It’s perfectly fine to give a critique in laymen’s terms. It’s probably better, actually. The other reason - and this is crucial – that you should be giving as much critique as you can if you genuinely wish to improve is that your own story, your work in progress, is your baby, and like any parent you will not suffer disparagement of your baby. In short, it’s very hard to be objective about one’s own work. It’s hard to see the flaws. But someone else’s work is different. We don’t feel that same sense of ownership. We can be objective. And in that objective consideration, we teach ourselves to be more objective with our own work. The flaws we see elsewhere, we eventually start to see more honestly in our own work, which then allows us to edit and rewrite with greater care and consideration. I often tell forum members that they should be very selfish in the act of giving critique. But it has to be the right kind of selfishness. Not egomaniacal, but instead greedy to learn, greedy to teach yourself. And do not make the mistake of waiting for gratitude or agreement from the person to whom you gave a critique, because it may well not come and you will feel disappointed, and your disappointment will have been born from thinking you were giving to someone else, rather than learning for your own personal betterment. I’m not here to make you a better writer. I’m here to make myself a better writer, and you should be doing the very same thing.