This week, I gave a critique on CC for the first time in close to a month. It was the greatest moment of my day.
This author handled themselves with confidence and grace, balancing action and emotion, suspense and humor (lots of humor), and overall clean, crisp writing. Sure, there were a few errors – typos, minor craft problems – but overall, this story was a pure joy to read.
As I concluded my critique, I made a point of saying, “I’ve critiqued close to 50 stories here on CC – and yours is one of the best I’ve seen.”
Of course, then I was curious. How many critiques had I actually given since I started on CC? I went back and counted. One, two, three… forty-nine, fifty, fifty-one… sixty-nine, seventy. I’ve given seventy critiques. Wowzer. Perhaps that’s why I’m now suffering from CSCS. What’s that, you ask?
Well, check out this Poll that was on CC recently. I found it fascinating because it addresses a phenomenon I’d discovered a few months ago.
I’m calling it Can’t Stop Crit-ing Syndrome. That’s CSCS for short. If you are actively writing, editing, or critiquing, you are in danger of getting this. Unfortunately, there is no known cure, but there are things you can do to address the symptoms. First, let’s look at what some of the symptoms are:
* Flinching when you catch a typo in a published book
* Groaning when a published author breaks a “rule” for no reason (ie, when they info-dump, use passive voice, or forget a comma)
* Automatically correcting your friends’ and family’s grammar, despite the fact that your own grammar isn’t always perfect
* Not being able to read articles in the Washington Post Magazine anymore without wanting to yell at the author, because OH MY GOSH, DONT YOU KNOW WHAT A RUN-ON SENTENCE IS?
* Looking at a sign in a store that says “Get You’re Flowers Here” and asking to speak to the manager
While there is no official cure for CSCS, there are some suggestions for those suffering from it. These include:
* Zoning out when around people who frequently misuse grammar
* Focusing on what magazine writers did well, not what they messed up on
* Not forcing yourself to labor through books with so many issues that you get yourself worked up
* Telling yourself that not everyone can be as good at English as you
Despite these negative symptoms that can sometimes inhibit your reading (and living) enjoyment, it can be helpful to look at the few positives that come with CSCS:
* Editing your own work is easier – I mean harder – I mean you catch more of your own mistakes
* If you suffer from long-term CSCS, you may even get to the point where you make less mistakes in your rough-drafts, because the thought of seeing those mistakes in your own writing is enough to make you poke your eyes out
* You become a better critique-er for other peoples’ stories – at least I hope
Do you, too, suffer from CSCS? Leave me a comment and let me know I’m not the only one.