Self-critiquing is a very valuable skill to develop. Proofreading your manuscript before sending it to another editor has huge benefits in terms of freeing your editor to work on the content of your manuscript rather than having to spend much of the time allocated correcting your errors. But you also need to be able to judge your own story for continuity, clarity, and quality.
However it's also very difficult to think neutrally about something you've written yourself. Many writers fall into one of two groups when re-reading their manuscript: either being too soft on their flaws and thinking everything they've put down on paper is perfect as it is; or being overly critical, sometimes to the point of deleting much of their work in frustration.
Finding a balance is important, because there's little point trying to edit your own work if you're not viewing it from a clear and honest perspective. Thankfully, critical reading, even of your own work, can improve with practice.
It can help to join a critique group and practice on other writers’ manuscripts first. You will learn to develop the tact that you need and also learn how to explain your reactions to a story. This objectivity will flow over into your own work and make it easier to distance yourself.
Also, remember that everyone needs a second opinion. Your self-critique doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can be a useful way of seeing where you need help and determining what questions you need to ask your editor.
In upcoming posts we look at how to approach a critique, and some tips to make it an easier process.
-- Developing a "Critical" Mindset
-- Tackling the Task of Self-Critiquing
-- Brush up on Self-Editing
Elsa Neal is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. In her experience with reading and critiquing manuscripts, she's picked up the most common errors that many writers seem to make. Read her list of the Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make at her website. Stay and browse through her resources for writers or follow her writing insights at her Fictional Life Blog.