Friends Make the Worst Critics

Why friends make the worst critics. ... DNAMAG

Have you ever finished writing a piece, say a short story and by the last click on the keyboard you're thinking "My God, this is a masterpiece." You can't wait for others to read it and express their newfound adoration for your written work and congratulate on what can only be a pure success. At least, that is what you hope for. They say that you're writing when you are rewriting, because we are supposed to take the constructive criticisms and re-work them into the supposed masterpiece. When I took my first creative writing class back in college, the professor advised that you should never allow a friend to review or critique your work. I used to think that such a theory was a shame, because who else would you trust more than a good friend to honestly tell you how your work resonates. Then, one day I gave one of my best friends, a fellow creative person, a copy of something I wrote and it was a huge mistake. In all bluntness and to paraphrase the softer version of what she actually said, it sucked. Nothing of what I wrote had made any sense to her. And I was shocked and maybe a little hurt, but not too much to make any issue out of it. It was my decision to let her read it and ask her for an honest opinion. My professor was 100% accurate - never let a friend review your work. 

Here's why: friends appreciate you too much. However, they have no reason to appreciate your work. It's not their baby. They're not in the "zone". They were blind to your entire process from start to middle to start again and then to the finish. Yeah, it was heartbreaking to hear my best friend tell me that she didn't like anything that I wrote, but the fault was mine alone. She had no business in critiquing me, just as I have no business to judge a painting she had finished. I loved that she was brutally honest with me, but the reasons of her dislike left me with emptiness and confusion. So, the next time you need a strong, valid, impartial feedback, stay away from friends (and family at that). 



After I recovered from my bestfriend's betrayal (joking), I started over. Maybe it did suck, but where it sucked, why and how were all things that I needed valuable feedback on. I enrolled in a writing workshop, short term classes with other creative writers. The only creative writing group that I've ever been a part of is Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City. It was the smartest choice I had made, one that I owed to myself. Being part of a writing community where everyone was in the same boat, learning from each other.  Most importantly, getting the criticisms and feedback from peers was far more enjoyable than having my bestfriend give it to me straight up. 

The same goes for any creative endeavors, whether it's a screenplay, an art installation, a handsewn fabric or garment, anything that you need to hear some constructive opinions about, do not show your friends and ask them what they think. At least not until you workshop your final product or work with a group of people that are your creative peers. The difference is that you need the honesty and suggestions from other writers (or painters, photographers, designers, etc) in order to make your work good. You need the moral support from your friends to make you feel good about your work. 

*credit: opening image photographed by Aline Velter