Words of Wisdom: When Critiquing Another’s Work @Janet_E_Jones #authortips #amwriting

quill pen

A Writer’s Friend

A few years ago when I was a brand new writer, I was in a critique group. It was amazing. The members were a mix of published and wannabe and all of us were hungry to learn. When we did learn a new skill, some of us *cough* tended to think that was the best way to do it. Or the only way. *cough again* We zealously shared our new found tricks of the trade, sometimes, running roughshod over the feelings of others, without meaning to. One of our members, Janet Elizabeth Jones, shared a wonderful essay with us about how harmful that can be. Without being critical or judgmental, she opened our eyes to the nature of sharing gently among writers. It changed my life. I have her permission to reproduce it here.

When Critiquing Another’s Work

Let me be mindful that this piece I hold in my hand symbolizes a fellow writer’s hard labor, hopes, tears, dreams, aspirations, and trust.

Let me not forget for a moment that her ambitions are no less fierce, full of promise, or all-consuming than my own, that her faith in me is precious, regardless of where she’s been or where’s she’s going.

Let me always remember that nothing I have to say about this piece or the fellow writer who wrote it is as important as the inspiration she felt to set these words down.

Let me show in my words and actions the single, simple truth–that no opinion or critique I can give, no granite-hewn, all-powerful words of wisdom I think I possess, are one-tenth as important as preserving her spark of inspiration.

However harsh her words may seem to my ears, however unfamiliar the images she paints to my uninitiated eyes, however the fruit of her creativity may try me, dare me, or challenge me to see the world through her eyes–her spark of inspiration must not go out.

Because one of these long, weary nights, after hours of struggling to put my own words down, after my muse has deserted me, the stresses of life have defeated me, and my own fire has fizzled out to a cold pile of ash, I’ll go in search of her, and I’ll hope and pray that I find her fire still burning bright enough to light my own again.

Janet Elizabeth Jones

Janet is my business partner at The Author’s Secret and performs ebook conversion services. She turns our clients’ manuscripts into lovely Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and other types of files. She also created our very beautiful, interactive website.

Revenant, by Janet Elizabeth Jones



Talisen is in love with a man who died 200 years before she was born.
Safe crush?
Guess again.
Amazon http://amzn.com/B00C0X1VD0
Website http://www.janetejones.com/
Blog http://thenightravenmuse.blogspot.com/
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About Kayelle Allen

Kayelle Allen did a tour in the US Navy, where she climbed around airplanes (on the ground of course) fixing black boxes that helped pilots find their way home. She wrote her first science fiction novel at 18, and to this day, it's hidden under the bed, where she vows it will remain. Gems from it, though, launched several series in her galaxy-wide universe of stories. From childhood, Kayelle was the victim of an overactive imagination and inherited the Irish gift of gab from her mother. From her father, she got a healthy respect for mechanical things. No wonder she writes Science Fiction and Fantasy peopled with crazy androids, mythic heroes and warriors who purr.
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0 Responses to Words of Wisdom: When Critiquing Another’s Work @Janet_E_Jones #authortips #amwriting

  1. janetejones says:

    Kayelle, thank you so, so much :) Your friendship means so much to me.

  2. Great post. Wonderful advice. I think there are a few people out there I own an apology to for giving over harsh and not so great critiques as I was first learning how to critique someone.

    • I am pretty sure Janet wrote this post after I had done that very thing. I have treasured her friendship over the years because of her gentle ability to slap me silly when I needed it. And with the kindest of words. :)