(Or, the Chicken and the Egg, Revisited)
You may have already heard about the four stages of writing competence from Authoress's recent post or Mary Kole's post about dealing with rejection. My brief definitions (adding in a critique perspective, and a little bit of psychology) follow. If you already know the stages, feel free to skip ahead.
Stage the First: Unconscious Incompetence –You believe you’re great, but you stink. Your ego thrives under false pretenses.
Stage the Second: Conscious Incompetence – Your crit partner/group help you realize you stink. Your ego suffers, but rightly so. You come up for air, but you better hold your breath because you’re going under again. Soon.
Stage the Third: Conscious Competence – You know what you need to do to improve, but it’s a chore. Your ego starts to recover, but suffers multiple set-backs.
Stage the Fourth: Unconscious Competence – You’re one with your work and if you err, you hear that little critiquing voice inside your head and self-correct. Your ego is happy because people like what you write and you like that they like it. Of course, your ego worries that you’ll never write something as good as you just have. What? Did you expect a happy ending?
A long intro for a short thing to consider. As a critiquer, everyone has to push through these stages as well. Me. You. Everyone. Read the stages above again, and think of where you might be as a critiquer. And make plans to move to the next level.
I’m wondering, though. What do you suppose happens first? A person becomes a better writer, and thus a better critiquer, or the other way around? Is it simultaneous?