What is it about critique nights?
Getting feedback is always great. It shows you how other people react to your work. You get a sense of through the looking glass when someone else reads and talks about your piece. This is invaluable. This is the other half of your tool set. Writing without a critique group is, of course in my lowly opinion, the second wheel on your bike. Without critiquing, you’re riding an exercise bike my friend. Lots of effort, but you ain’t going nowhere. (Excepting you weird unicyclists. Ride on!)
But really, the absolute best is critiquing the work of others.
Not in a mean way. Not cruel or petty or harsh. What’s awesome is that you are given this ray claw of a story and you get to really muck with it. You can pull it apart, splat it on a wall, look at it from all angles and have fun with it. You can because it’s not yours so you aren’t bound up in all that personal attachment and the anxiety that comes with it. It’s all play, and you bounce ideas off the writer like some crazy game of creative dodgeball, but the kind where no one minds getting beaned. We all leave smiling and giddy and recharged.
And even better than that? The absolute best part?
You come back to your own work with that same sense of playful freedom. You learn how to check your ego at the door, roll up your sleeves and play in the mud of your own ideas with the same shit-eating grin you had when you were five.
I got all kinds of dirty tonight. And I’m loving it.
(Can I compare critiquing to both dodgeball and mud pies? I think I just did. All hail the mixed metaphor!)