Not just for Writers — Criticism versus Critique

When I spoke at the Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison, one of my topics was why critiquing is necessary. My presentation included defining the difference between criticism and critique:

I represented CRITICISM with scissor blades facing the recipient — putting a person on the defensive. We typically react (knee-jerk) to this style of communication, viewing it as an attack. Criticism is problem-oriented, negative, and critical.

I represented CRITIQUE with scissor handles facing the recipient — putting the person at ease. We typically respond (thought-filled) to this style of communication, viewing it as a gift. Critique is solution-oriented, positive, and helpful.

When you provide feedback (at home, work, or in a writing situation), is your message respectful, honest, useful, clear, and specific?


Black and Blue Magic

Black & Blue Magic

On a recent hot and humid day off, I went to the Crystal Lake Public Library to do some research for an idea that’s been niggling at the back of my mind—and no, I’m not telling you what it is…

As things started falling into place, there was a distinct “click.” My brain shifted into overdrive and my fingers started smokin’ the keys on my laptop. For those of you who’ve known me any length of time, you know that I type fast. Very fast!

Having just seen the movie, “Tamara Drewe“—which takes place at a writer’s colony in Ewedown, a quiet community on the outskirts of London—I closed my eyes and pretended I was there…mentally transporting myself “across the pond” (as it were) in the blink of an eye.

Sitting at a shared table—somewhat like a revolving door—people came and went throughout the day, but I kept my eyes closed and let it flow. I’d put on over-the-ear headphones as my visual signal to be left undisturbed. When all was said and done, I’d been in the same seat typing away from 9am to 6pm.

What did I have to show for it?

– The idea that had been simmering on the back burner of my mind now has a life of its own on paper, and

– A bruised finger! I don’t know how it happened. I didn’t have it when I arrived, but I certainly did when I left. And like magic, it doesn’t hurt at all.

When was the last time you were so engrossed in what you were doing that you completely lost track of time?

By the way, one of my favorite childhood books is Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I promise that if you check it out of the library, you’ll love it too!

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan and our Facebook page

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved