1. Gurari

    Gurari New Member

    Mar 5, 2009
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    Boston, MA

    After Some Time...Self-Reviews

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Gurari, Sep 22, 2009.

    In the past few years I've seen my writing ability and knowledge of writing techniques, traps, etc. grow through constant practice and reading. I recently took a moment to reflect and reread a short story that I had completed (and felt fairly confident about) with the aim of experiencing the story as an objective reader. I think about a year had passed since I'd last looked at the story. Needless to say, I was shocked by the lack of quality in what I read. My confidence in my ability was undermined by what I'd produced, and I felt it necessary to read some of my more recent work as objectively as I could (with the hope that a clear growth in ability would redeem my self-esteem). To my disappointment, I felt that my recent work was also sub par. Part of this feeling was tempered by a qualitative comparison of my work to the work of published authors that I admire (both classic and contemporary works).

    I've definitely had a bit of a crisis of faith in my ability, but I have also found that I'm more motivated now then I've ever been. I feel as though I've established a better understanding of myself and of what I'd like to (hopefully) grow into. In some ways, this form of self-review has been more valuable to me than peer review.

    Have any of you had a similar experience while self-reviewing?

    Also...I feel as though it could be helpful to reviewers if authors on this site were to review their own work after posting. It might help the author better understand what they are trying to accomplish if they are stating their goals and self-criticisms for all to read. Thoughts?
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Instead of being discouraged by looking back, be heartened by the evidence that you are continuing to grow as a writer. I'd feel worse if I didn't see things I could do better today.

    The last thing you want to do as a writer is to taint the critiques by telling critics what your intent was. And by last thing, I mean it IS a good idea if you have already received critique that shows you your intent is escaping the readers, and nothing you do to change it seems to help. But until you reach that point of desperation, you should avoid biasing your criitcs.
  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
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    Puerto Rico
    Perhaps not so much a review as a rewrite ad repost might have the end effect you are looking for.

    I say this because recently a very similar thing happened to me. I asked one of my friends here to have a look at a piece of work I had posted back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, and it was only after I had asked him to look at it that piece that I myself took a gander at it again and was aghast (aghast I tell you!) at how horrid the original piece was. It was as full of faults as the California coastline! First person, present tense. Blech!! It was painful and embarrassing. Thankfully my friend was kind enough to spare me and lied to me in the most pleasant way about the quality. :redface:

    Anyway... my plan is to rewrite that initial portion and perhaps post again to give an example of the whole before/after effect.
  4. garmar69

    garmar69 Contributor Contributor

    Jul 25, 2008
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    This sounds like a very natural progression of a writer. I've only been writing and studying the craft for a year and I already can tell a difference and shake my head in wonder when I see some of the crap I wrote a year ago. Also, objective distance is great for a writer--almost like someone with new eyes looking at your story--and issues with the work you didn't notice before will usually be very evident.

    Good writing and keep working hard.

  5. Mark R

    Mark R New Member

    Aug 21, 2009
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    Darlington, UK
    I'm kind of halfway there.

    I read my old stuff I can see there's something not quite right with it. It feels clunky or doesn't quite make sense.

    What I can't do yet is specifically say what is wrong with it. Although lurking on this forum has given me a fair bit of insight into that.
  6. Cheeno

    Cheeno Member

    Mar 5, 2008
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    Yeah, it's obviously a combination of writing experience and time that's sharpened your perspective and enhanced your objectivity. It can often prove a scary moment when the realisation hits, but when viewed as a threshold in your progession as a writer, I reckon there's no looking back.

    Unfortunately, I believe it's happening less because aspiring writers fail to put their drafts aside for the time necessary to achieve the required objectivity. What's the reason for this? Maybe I'll post it up and try to find out.

    As to critiquing your own work on-site? I don't think it'd work. I like reading critiques here, mostly because they're personal impressions, not of the writer's opinion, but of the work itself. Best kept that way, imo. Good luck with your writing.

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