The problem with critiquing your own work is that it is hard to break away from your own biases. The best remedy for this is to get someone else to critique and edit between drafts, but if that’s not possible, then I would recommend the American Idol* technique. That is, you split your inner judge into three, and give each one a certain task.
Note: Don’t worry about how silly this is. You might find it helpful, so try it out.
Dawg, you need some general appraisal. Randy works closely with your first instinct - did the overall impression of your creation make you want to get up and dance? Or did it hit a sour note? Whatever your inner Randy says is probably going to be what your audience thinks. Just make sure that you’re in a relatively objective state of mind when deciding to offer yourself props or if it just didn’t do it for you.
Hearts and rainbows. We need more hearts and rainbows. Many geeks put so much pressure on themselves to succeed that they forget to appreciate all that they have accomplished. Take stock of your achievements. Also, highlighting the positive tells you where your strong points are. If you are in the business of selling or promoting something, listen to your inner Paula, because she will tell you which features with which to lead. Finally, the Paula stage is important because it bolsters you for the final stage ahead.
Here’s where the real critiquing takes place: where you focus on all the negatives. Make no excuses. Be brutal. Your inner Simon must be ruthless. Let him tell you exactly what needs a lot more work, and what parts need to be thrown out entirely. This might get disheartening, but think of your creation like a sculpture: when you include materials that don’t fit with the final product, you’re leaving the job unfinished. Cut the unnecessary bits away, and be left with a much sharper image.
The difference between using three judges instead of your own solidified instincts is that your instincts will arrive at a general consensus rather than breaking it all down and weighing the pros and cons. When editing, you need specific advice, even from yourself. Also, by projecting as entirely different people, you escape your own preconceptions about what works and what doesn’t. Now, you don’t HAVE to imagine the three original judges. You can pick whatever people or characters you want. Make creatures up if you feel like it. Just be sure you cover the bases: you want a general first impression, a good side, and a bad side. This triad gives you the clearest picture because they focus on their niches and offset one another. Like any good song, you want your critics to be working in harmony.
*No one on this blog is affiliated with American Idol. Dude, if I had an “in” like that...