There are all sorts of articles online that detail the benefits of having a critique partner and the types of feedback to offer them. They speak the truth—well, many of them, at least… I don’t know what you read—it is wonderful to get feedback about your WIP. Your CP’s critiques help you revise your story beyond what you could do on your own. Writers are so close to their own stories that they can’t always see them clearly. CPs are looking at the story with fresh eyes and can offer a different perspective. They identify info-dumps and question your characters’ motivations and everything else those other articles talk about.
All of that is great—invaluable, really. But I wanted to tell you 5 reasons having a CP is good for you beyond reading and critiquing your WIP.
(1) Giving critiques makes you a better writer
You probably did peer review at some point in school, and this is no different. The whole point—or a good part of it at least—is to refine your revising skills. You get too close to your own writing and lose the ability to see it like you need to in order to revise effectively. But just as a CP provides a fresh take on your writing, you do the same for them. When you’re looking at someone else’s work, you can identify strengths and weaknesses much more easily. If you share certain weaknesses with your CP, then you’re gaining valuable experience in identifying the signs so that you can then recognize those same weaknesses in your own writing. If your CP has a certain strength that you do not share, then you’re learning how that works and strengthening that aspect of your writing for yourself.
(2) Get experience reading with a critical eye
When you’re reading with the intention of providing your CP with a thorough critique, you’ll be reading very differently than you do when simply reading a published novel. But you should strive to read with a similarly critical eye for all writing. You’ll be able to better pinpoint what makes your favorite books your favorites. Likewise for less adored books. You’ll analyze and absorb what pacing works where and how much description to include—and also the ever-popular show-don’t-tell rule. Reading a CP’s WIP gives you great experience in seeking out those different elements of writing so that you’ll be better able to do that whenever you read.
(3) Makes you accountable
If you’re setting dates in advance with your CP for when you want to make your next swap, then you’ll have built-in deadlines for completing drafts and revisions. It makes you accountable beyond simply setting yourself a deadline—you know, for those of us who are sometimes guilty of simply pushing it back on the calendar if you hit a roadblock.
(4) Internet support
If you’ve read other articles about CPs, then you’ve probably read articles about author platforms. (If not, Google it, but try not to let it overwhelm you.) When you’re building your internet presence, you need followers. People to read and like and comment on your posts across various social media accounts. You support each other in your writing and your author platforms.
(5) Writer friends
But perhaps the most valuable aspect of having CPs is making writer friends. I know that sounds unbearably cheesy, but hear me out: There are books and articles to help with #1-2, determination and discipline may satisfy #3, and #4 can be accomplished with your other friends and/or internet strangers who follow you. But writer friends are kind of irreplaceable. Bleh, nope, still cheesy. Oh well, I’m going for it.
Writer friends encourage and commiserate with you as needed. They understand your #writerslife in a way that your non-writer friends cannot—though I’m sure they’re wonderful, too. You root for each other. You share information about contests and workshops and book recommendations. In short, they’re awesome.
So go out and find yourselves some amazing CPs!