Friday, September 23, 2011

Line Judging and Critiquing

A few days ago, I was asked to line judge my daughter's volleyball game. I did not want to do this and I made excuses like, "I mix up my left and right all the time," but the asker assured me line judging was easy. After a few more lame attempts at getting out of it, I relented.

Mike Vondran playing beach volleyball, Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil January 3 2009.
Photo by over_kind_man  We didn't have this view at our game. We didn't have the Speedos either. :)

Line Judging ~

Although nervous I would mess up, I only had to make a few calls and the game went fine. Thankfully, I remembered the hand gestures properly and didn't make any mistakes. When the game was over, I felt good that I'd been able to contribute, and it really had been easy.

So why had I resisted so much?

I didn't want the responsibility. I didn't want to mess up. I didn't want to have to pay attention to anything but cheering on the team.

Critiquing ~

I thought about how similar my reaction to line judging and to performing my first critique for another writer were. I'd agreed to read and give feedback on a friend's chapters yet I'd never done it before. I was scared I'd mess up. I didn't want the responsibility. I didn't want to have to say anything negative--I wanted to be able to cheer the author on. But after I sent the author the critique, I felt good. I'd been able to contribute to the writer's understanding of her novel, and it had been easy.

It's been years since I did my first critique, and I still enjoy critiquing very much. Plus, all the practice has made me confident in my ability to give a fair assessment.

Strength ~

I've always been more gutsy when it comes to my writing career. I'm willing to take chances and be uncomfortable because I want to be published. The risks I've taken have helped me try more things in my personal life too, like agreeing to be a line judge for a game I've never played.

It's amazing how every step we take affects the other steps we'll take.

Have you become stronger in personal areas due to taking chances in your professional life?

Have a fabulous weekend!!


  1. I remember submitting my work to a crit group for the first time! Scary but necessary.

  2. I guess making calls like that doesn't bother me, but there are plenty of other things that do.
    Giving feedback is something I still enjoy. I am lucky to have great people who read my stuff and are very honest while still cheering for me. :)

  3. I've always been something of a pantser when it comes to writing. Recently, after hunting down my supervisor to ask her what the heck was going on with some of our employees so I knew how to plan the rest of my shift, I had something of a major revelation - deep down in my little heart, I'm a plotter.

  4. Great post, Jill. Stepping out of our comfort zones is oh-so-hard, but you are absolutely right. The rewards are often well worth it.

  5. Laura: I know! At the time, I knew deep down that my writing needed outside eyes, but it was scary taking that first step. Now? I love getting critiques back. My partners amaze me with their insight!

    Tabitha: Couldn't agree with you more about critique partners! And it doesn't surprise me you aren't flustered by things like line-judging. After all, you're a boxer!

    Ayda: You should not have just told me that!! Now I want to show you all my plot sheets--just wait, just wait!!

    Connie: And sometimes I'm just tired from the rest of the day and too lazy to take a risk. It's good to say yes now and then!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. I have this problem with speaking in front of people.

    I can talk to clients and customers until the cows come home with no problem. I can wipe away the fear of an upset customer or chat with client about her day, but put me in front of a group where I'm not in control...I stammer and stutter.

    I discovered this shyness when I first started to do Civil War reenacting. I did a living history where I had to speak about Clara Barton...I made it through but panic was just inches from snaring me while standing in front of 80 people.

    I now force myself to do it. I still get that anxious feeling but my words run smoother.

    Great post.

  7. Hi Jill! I think just committing to writing and completing the book has given me a new sense of confidence. And while I was scared I wouldn't be of any real use to my critique partner, the experience taught me that I knew more than I realized as well as a lot to learn.

    And what's this about plot sheets? I'm a pantster that wants to plot better ...

  8. Loree: Public speaking is hard! My son had his first oral book report today, and he practiced it on me several times last night and once this morning. He thinks he'll do good but is still nervous--I told him that most people feel the same way! It's intimidating! Good for you for forcing yourself. The audience needs your knowledge!

    Stacy: I create virtual folders in OneNote for each of my projects, and I have a tab just for plotting with several pages in it. The best advice I can give you is to #1, honor your process while trying new things, and #2 read my article "Writing the Synopsis Before the Book." Here is the link where you can read and print it:

    Carol: Thank you!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. Great post, Jill. I look to critiques as a learning process. When I began writing in earnest I was so afraid that learning would ruin my 'voice'. But now I want honest thoughts on what I write.

    I try to give honest, private, critiques to books and articles I read and I look up to the writers who accept this kind of help.

    I've also found that helping with formatting, light copy editing and general items for another author helps me as much as it might the one I'm doing it for.

    Learning our craft comes in many forms but paying it forward is satisfying and makes me better.

  10. Dannie: I agree. I always get so much out of the critiques I receive. We just can't see everything on our own. And giving feedback helps me as a writer too. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!


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