I know. I've slapped myself for that bad title, but I stand by the sentiment.
We NEED critique. We need to revise, and edit. Drafting the manuscript isn't enough. Editing it yourself isn't enough.
Have you ever seen this?
Our brains are magical, mysterious, wibbly-wobbly things that can create the most AMAZING stories. They can make us jump in fright at a piece of string on the floor that hasn't moved, but we suddenly think is a GIANT SPIDER.
When it comes to words, a lot of the time we see what we expect to see.
It's worse when we are trying to edit the things we've written. I feel like a rockstar when editing for other people. I can find missing words, adjust punctuation, tweak like a BOSS.
But my CP's routinely find things in my MS's that makes me >cringe< because OMG we entered an elephant graveyard for commas, and, I've, found, them, all, and, jammed them into page two!
And this section? Oh, you mean the one where there was an echo, and I used the same word three times in one sentence because my brain was phoning it in for that paragraph.
You will ALWAYS be better at critting someone else's manuscript than your own because you don't know what is coming. Your brain can't trick you into seeing what isn't there. Our brains WANT to fill in the blanks! They want to help! They're that annoying (awesome) kid sitting at the front, frantically waving their hand in the air before the whole question is out of the teacher's mouth.
Your brain is an insufferable know-it-all.
The good news, is that you have friends!
I hope. Otherwise, awkward.
You NEED critique partners. If you don't think you do, then sweetheart, pass me a cup of that self-deluded ego juice. It may not take a village to write a manuscript, but only an idiot thinks their first draft is perfect without another set of eyes on it.
FIND a critique partner. Or three. Find someone who has strengths you lack. If you KNOW your punctuation/ grammar are shaky, find a hard ass who will point out all your bonus commas. If you are technically strong, but always end up with drafts shorter than a skirt-belt, then find a CP who can show you places to expand.
It's about finding a CP who is the *right fit* for you.
Cheerleaders are great. Some days we feel so torn down from all the negatives, and 'no's in this business, that we need someone to pick us up and make us see the shininess in our WIP again. Cheerleaders can make us feel fabulous.
But they aren't going to make you stronger, or your MS tighter.
Find a CP who is right for you. Not all crit partners are made equally. It has to be reciprocal, and you need someone who understands your genre. Nothing stings more than a CP not getting your genre, and not knowing what to say to make your MS better because they just couldn't get into it.
I have CP's who I love who don't read every genre/ category I write in. That is fine! I don't read everything either.
We all have our strengths, and areas that need shoring up.
Find people who can fill your breach.
It's about trust, give and take, and being honest. Crit partners can help toughen that skin, and show us how to kill our darlings. They can point us toward better ones. They can be the one you turn to, that person in the trenches with you who *so* understands the unique frustrations from this writing business.
They will be your fresh set of eyes, a typo catcher, a hand holder, and an ass kicker when you need motivation.
If you're a writer, FIND A CP.
I cannot stress this enough.