1. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    Your mood and the critique you give

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by badgerjelly, Mar 31, 2017.

    I find critiques to be very helpful. The more I try and give critique the easier I find it to view my own writing "as if" it is another's.

    What has started to bother me is that I notice I tend to react to the same piece of writing in different ways depending on my mood. Even with my own writing, I regard something I've written as good one day and trash the next. I can at least say the stuff I write that I really like a lot never really looks bad, at worst it looks mediocre.

    From now on I have decided not to give my first reaction to a piece of writing. From now on I will read something and make a brief comment and then return to it at least a couple of times before giving more critique.

    Does anyone else notice their own fickle nature when reading someone else's, or your own, work?
     
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  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Yeah, I think that's pretty normal. I definitely have days when I'm going to be more helpful and positive in critiquing and days where all I can think is "This is awful and there's absolutely no way to ever fix it" - and on the latter days I don't critique (and try to not read my own work because it just won't be productive). I'm not going to comment on something unless I feel like I can say something positive. It's always a good idea to take note of your overall mood before posting. I've made comments on here and gone "aw, dude, what the fuck were you thinking" the next day - but I keep it out of the workshop!
     
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  3. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    I don't say anything if I cannot say anything I believe is helpful. What I meant was more along the lines of saying something is mediocre one day and then looking the next day and thinking "Wow! That is great writing."

    I also try and steer clear of voicing my opinion too much and say so if I think my opinion is merely that (a singular view point of my personal tastes and whatnot). Truth is I don't like much fiction. I find 99% of fiction I pick up to be extremely dull.

    I also find that when trying to give critique I can look too deeply at what is written. It is hard to give critique if you simply don't like the style of someone's writing because nothing I can suggest would help enough, or so it seems?
     
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  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I think my tone of critique is more dependent on how thick my skin is at the time. I tend to automatically treat other people how I want to be treated (I think most people do, in general?) so when I was terrified of critique I was probably too nice: sugarcoating, playing down the negatives, sprinkling all critique with provisos and disclaimers. Nowadays I prefer to be told straight, albeit politely, what the reader didn't like. Sugarcoated critique isn't useful. So I find myself giving blunt (but hopefully polite...) feedback, and sometimes have to remind myself that I might be talking to brand new or insecure writer.
     
  5. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I agree. Mood definitely enters into the process. Some days I'm much more openminded and more kindly disposed than others. Sometimes I want to dig in, other times I just want to skim.

    And @Tenderiser makes a good point here. It's good to consider the writer's level of confidence and expertise. Not to mention their potential state of mind. Thanks to the 'mental health support' thread, I've become aware of how many writers in our group suffer from mental health issues that might render them more vulnerable to criticism than those of us who don't. I imagine it takes a great deal of courage for some writers to post their stuff at all—never mind its quality—and it's good to keep that in mind.

    One thing that always helps to settle me, before diving into a critique, is to actually read the whole piece through before I start, and also to look at the writer's profile, if I'm not familiar with them already. It helps avoid nitpicking word choices, minor SPAG issues, etc, and helps to give a whole picture of what the writer has done.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2017
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  6. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    as a depression sufferer I try not to give critique or to edit my own writing on black days... though that said i do sometimes find it therapeutic to write .

    The root cause of much of my stress is feeling trapped and powerless to respond against authority at work - thuis writing characters who are openly disrespectful of authority and likely to respond with gunfire or a throwing knife if treated as I am being is a useful escape... however the escape writes will need signicant tidying up on good days.
     
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  7. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with both @Tenderiser and @jannert equally. Yes, it is good to be blunt and not so nice to the point that the writer does not learn anything, but it is also important to not be an ass. Something I've been trying to learn, and I find that my mood doesn't so much affect my critique as much as the story I'm reading. On many occasions I have passed up giving one because a) the author is not responding well or taking constructive crits to heart, they seem to just be defensive, albeit not aggressively, but still not open to suggestion. b) Because I cannot find anything very positive to say so that I avoid sounding like I'm simply tearing it down with nothing but negative comments. Made a couple critiques like that and I don't think it was taken well, and I did try to sugarcoat a bit but it really wasn't helpful when the truth needed to be told.

    I have resigned to only posting a critique if I feel the writer can handle it, or if there is at least one positive thing I can say. I try to ake my mind objective first before going over my work, or someone else's. While I do suffer from some mental issues myself, I am more than aware of them and simply avoid doing anything too serious when I'm in a bad place. If I need to write to feel better, I won't write anything too important and just do a few lines for a short story idea, or simply put the writing aside entirely for that. I want my work to be critiqued properly, and I don't care about how many things are negative, but even I would like to know one thing I did right so I can compare the good to the bad...and the ugly. I want it to be honest too.
     
  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Broken-Record-psd53198.png

    I always approach each critique as a learning experience, not a teaching experience.
     
  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I believe a good critique shouldn't depress a writer. It should give the writer a new perspective on what they've written, and maybe what they want to write. Even if the critique has been 'negative,' there should be a direction the writer can go, and ideas they can explore.

    I do draw the line somewhat at critiquing horrendous SPAG errors, though. Other than 'go study spelling, punctuation and grammar' there isn't much else to say. That's a given. There are basics you need to acquire, to be taken seriously as a writer. That's certainly one of them.
     
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  10. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    When I'm raging I look see if my enemies have posted, tell everybody what I think of them, dont need to read the shit, say a thing, something, anything nasty, get them out the way a couple of hours and their opinions. Way I see it
     
  11. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Ooh yes, a million times this. I won't respond if I see a writer being rude, ungrateful, or defensive in response to critiques. I think it's a shame that those threads often get so much traffic.
     
  12. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    I've also seen a couple where the author really wasn't looking for critique, merely posting their work to have it read. It becomes more obvious if they add in the slightest defense, but you can also tell when they only respond to praise and not to advice. Those truly looking for critique will often say so in the OP.
     
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  13. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I can relate to this fully. When I'm low I don't possess the ability to string so much as a single sentence together (at least not creatively or emotionally) and have absolutely zero interest in anything anyone else is writing. At these times I couldn't offer a critique if my life depended on it.
     
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  14. Homewriting

    Homewriting New Member

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    I generally just try to be professional when I give a critique. If I liked it, I tell them, if I didn't, I also tell them why. Then I point out flaws, inconsistencies, things of that nature.

    Mostly, I try to layer it. Positive, critique, positive, another critique, end on a positive note. That sort of thing.
     
  15. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    I sometimes find myself being overly harsh (at least my critiques appear that way on a second reading):-

    Firstly, it's just the way I speak, but without intonation and body language to soften words, you often miss the intended meaning.

    Secondly, sugar-coated critiques are actively harmful as they reinforce mistakes.
     
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  16. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I try to keep my mood out of the situation when critiquing other people's work. Cause I can be pretty hard on my own writing. I used to sit in my bedroom as a child tearing every page of my note books then tearing those pages into smaller pieces and throwing them away. Thankfully I've grown out of that horrible habit but I'm still pretty tough on myself.

    I look at critique as a way of getting better with my own editing process - a kind of knife sharpening. Lol. That's why when I critique I focus on descriptions, character, sentence structure and whether or not something is boring. Those are things that concern me.
     
  17. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    In terms of quick-shot critiques like on this board, I think I only critique when I'm in a certain mood (kind of restlessly procrastinate-y), so there's a certain level of uniformity to how I see things.
     
  18. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    My own work, yes, just like you said, one day is good the next is trash.

    Other people's work, no. I can be in a very bad mood and read something that changes my mood completely. Or not. But it has no bearing on what I think of the writing. One of the reasons why I read is to abstract myself from everything around and inside me, so it's the writing that counts, not what happened today at work.
    If my first impression is good, I make sure to let the writer know I went to Heaven and back.
    If I'm not in the mood to give critique, any critique, I don't.

    I make it a rule of life to not take out my anger on innocent people around me just because they are there. I appreciate that people will be as considerate to me.
     
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  19. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Depends. I tend to be as honest as possible, and leave out the
    crazy opinions.
    Drinking and then I kinda ramble off in a direction. :p

    I don't post anymore in workshop, cause I am just that
    bad writer, and nobody wants to say it. :D
     
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  20. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    (@Cave Troll Not true! I've read your work. Sorry, I haven't been able to provide critique yet. But not true!)
     
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  21. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    I might not have said it, but I thought it a few times ;) Joking. Not read it, but will get around to it.
     
  22. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    @Cave Troll

    You're not a bad writer, shuss up div...:/
    x
     
  23. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    Shush, don't respond to appeals for compliment ;) Joking again.
     
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  24. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    No thats not true

    not at all

    not inthe slightest

    I'm very happy to say it ...
     
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  25. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Mood effects everything. In the end the only way that we can judge writing is how it effects us and our mood will definitely effect if/how that happens. Some times I just can't read my own writing. It makes me cringe. I don't know why exactly. Just seeing things that I wrote sets my teeth on edge. But that's because I'm not in the right place to read it.

    This is of course one of the major reasons why getting any feedback is so hard. It's hard to give good feedback when you are forcing yourself to read something. But it takes a very long time to read something when you are just waiting for the right time to read it. Given how subjective fiction is in general it's easy to find things to grouse about and decide that it's the book that sucks not you are in a bad mood and want to vent some spleen. This is also why it's painfully hard to get noticed by agents even when your book genuinely is good and genuinely is perfect for their tastes because people just sometimes don't fell well disposed towards whatever they are doing and miss the big picture of the work.
     
    G. Anderson likes this.

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