Last weekend I went up to northern Minnesota fishing. Great fun with family and a bucket of pan fish. The glass top lake with it’s tree mirror images and the Minnesota Loon surfacing a fishing pole length away held me mesmerized till I absolutely had to leave to get the kids home for school the next day.
As the dusk settled on my swagger wagon, as I call my Sienna minivan, I drove on the soft whispering breaths of my young children blending with the quiet piano music in my CD player.
I rounded a curve in the road, and straight in my headlight beams two deer glared back at me…from my lane of the road. I slammed my brakes jarring my kids from a fitful sleep and my muscles from a happy existence.
Thankfully, the car behind wasn’t riding my bumper and the deer regained their senses as my car screeched to a halt. If I’d slammed on those breaks any later, I’d have had a new hood ornament at best. At the worst, there wouldn’t have been much swagger left in my wagon.
Do you know when it is time to slam on the brakes in a critique relationship or friendship?
Friends are a must for all of us and critique buddies also for us writers. But just as they can be a joy and an iron sharpening iron situation, they can also cause a lot of hurt.
Sometimes all it takes is the knowledge of when to slam on the brakes to bring out the best in friendships and critique relationships. We all need boundaries and a definition of our role in a situation.
5 Hints That It Is Time To Stop In A Writing Critique Relationship:
*Boundaries have been crossed. At the beginning of a critique relationship it is important to set up clear boundaries of what you expect in a critique buddy and what you can offer. If these boundaries are constantly pushed, or not respected it is important to speak up. Share your concerns and if the situation doesn’t change it’s time to slam on the brakes.
*You Don’t Trust Your Critique Partner. Usually this occurs over time when confidences are broken, or feelings are hurt in a way that is stronger than just feedback on your work. You don’t trust your critique partner to have your best interests at heart.
*The Relationship Has Become Toxic. If one or both critique buddies have developed a defensive or unteachable spirit in the relationship, or one of the critique buddies is bullying you to change your voice it is a sure sign to slam on the breaks. If the spirit of the relationship is no longer encouraging although challenging each other to excellence, if unkind words are the norm it is time to slam on the brakes.
*When Critique Partners Are Unable To Find Matching Commitment Levels. By this I mean that one partner is doing all of the critiquing and the other is too busy to guide the other through critiquing their work. You may get along great, but your commitment level doesn’t match. Over time this is likely to cause a lot of friction.
*When Your Personalities Don’t Gel. Not everyone works the same way together. It isn’t awful to admit someone may not be the right fit for you in personality. Critique buddies and friends should challenge and inspire one another. If your personalities don’t mesh well enough to foster that type of relationship, then another one may be more successful.
If any of the above descriptions match your situation:
*Sit back and take some time to pray for guidance.
*Speak the truth gently but firmly.
*Give an opportunity for God to work.
If that doesn’t work:
*Be honest and say that you are feeling that your critique relationship might not be a good fit.
*Continue to encourage to each other as writers.
*Realize that you are a not a failure just because things didn’t work out. At least you had the common sense not to waste any more valuable time trying to force a situation.
What are some other hints that it is time to slam on the brakes in life or in a critique relationship?