Innies & Outies: Respecting Differences in Critique Process

by Amber Keyser
Published on: May 26, 2011
Categories: Critique Process
Comments: 3 Comments

Recently Addie posted When Talking is Better Than Writing.  It really resonated with me because I am one of those people who will spew words about anything and everything.  I love talking about my work in progress with anyone brave enough to bear the onslaught.  So my comment was something like “Why the heck doesn’t everyone talk about their writing all the time?”  In her typically gentle way, Ruth reminded me, “Amber Dear, sometimes the work is fragile for a while.”

Hmm… Cogs turned in my head.  Yes, I could see that.  Sort of.  But I am not very fragile (usually) and my work/ideas can take a beating.  Then one of our brilliant readers sent an email that illuminated this cobwebbed corner of the writing process (and maybe my marriage, too!)

She said:

I have learned over the years that there are basically two major groups (though most likely there may be shades of gray in there as well). Inward processors and Outward processors.

I am in the latter group. Things make so much more sense when I can talk it out.

Innies get so upset when Outies want to talk before *they* are ready. Outies NEED to talk before they burst into flames.

Ah-ha!

I should have realized this before since I (like our reader claimed to be) am an outie married to an innie! It’s taken me a decade of marriage to be comfortable with the way my husband works through things and for me to realize that if I want to process out loud, I should grab an outie friend before I subject my husband to my unformed ramblings.

As for critique, I see now why one of my previous groups was so disastrous for me. It had a rule that the person being critiqued could not speak or ask questions.  I might as well have been hog-tied in the corner with duct tape over my mouth.  No asking questions?  No discussion?  It was stifling. Does that mean it was a flawed structure?  No.  It means it was a bad fit for me.

There are both innies and outies in the Scrivas.  Outies are more likely to bring an idea and run it by us before writing.  Innies may wait until the entire first draft is done to start sharing.  Sometimes we have heated discussions propelled by questions asked by the writer about her work.  Sometimes comments are shared and then allowed to lay fallow, taking shape in the writers mind slowly.

I think one of the secrets of Scriva mojo is that we each feel comfortable asking for the kind of eyes we need on a manuscript. Therein lies the key… the writer drives the discussion so that it takes shape in the way she needs it to take shape.

 

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3 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. Addie Boswell says:

    I like those terms! I think I am an innie through the first draft, then can benefit from some outie.

  2. Kristen Bowman says:

    Through geographical and chronological twists of fate, I’m unable to be much more than an innie. I’ve aquired a couple of critique partners through Absolute Write, both of whom live overseas. I find some of my most productive critiques were spurred by my questioning. Something such as, “Does this description work?” at the beginning of a chapter. The focus, slow dialogue, and space / time works well.

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