Earlier this month I did something for the first time.
I submitted a chapter of All of our Tomorrows, my novel-in-progress, for critique.
Previously, I’d been unwilling to have anyone look at any part of my novel because the whole thing is not finished. My thinking was that I wanted my writing to be as good as I possibly could before showing it to other people. That said, I recognise that the very process of critique can help me achieve my aim of writing the best book that I can.
So with some trepidation, I sent out the first chapter of the book and strapped myself in for a blasting. As I took my seat in the beautifully decorated room above a pub in North London (see picture) I told myself, “Remember that they’re criticising my writing, not me as a person. Leave your ego at the door; this is about making me a better writer.”
What happened next surprised me.
They liked it.
They genuinely did. People understood the relationship between Luke and Anna and the events of the chapter resonated well. They were intrigued to see where the story was going to go. I think all writers write in the hope that others will enjoy the words they put on the page, but to have real people say “this bit was good,” or “that bit was well done” really made me smile.
I wasn’t expecting an uplifting experience, yet that’s exactly what I got.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all milk and roses and there were a fair few negative comments which gave me plenty to think about. I’m going to think hard about my opening paragraph and also about giving Luke a stronger personality right off the bat .
Afterwards, I felt really inspired by the critique process in a way that I was genuinely not expecting. Showing my writing to others has given me an extra impetus to get the story finished. My plan to get this draft finished by the Spring is more or less on track and this critique session has given me another nudge along the way.