Are You Being Tossed About by Every Wind?

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Ephesians 4:14 NLT


Teacher and Student Discussing Paper

In my small group recently, we were discussing critiques. One member had submitted to the same national contest two years in a row. After the first year, she took the judges’ comments to heart and revised her manuscript. The second year, the judges’ were the exact opposite of the first year. It’s amazing sometimes how two people can read our work and give us contradictory advice.


Another of our members is an experienced writer, but new to writing fiction. A critiquer told her the first chapter had too much dialogue. Our member voiced she needed to rewrite the chapter. Turned out the critiquer didn’t write fiction or read very much fiction.Critic

This paraphrase of Ephesians 4:14 came to mind. As writers, we will no longer be immature and insecure. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of critique. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us into writing their way as the only way with rationalizations so clever they sound like rules and doctrine from on high.

We need faith in two things when we write.

One is faith in ourselves, in our writing, in knowing we are answering God’s call to write. Like spiritual faith, our writing faith is developed over time as we study the craft through attending workshops and conferences, through reading books on the craft, and through applying our faith by sitting down and writing. And rewriting. And rewriting.

The other area of faith is in discernment. We need to believe God gives wisdom and insights to judge potential critiquers and critique groups. We need to trust he will create divine appointments with the right mentors and coaches, with those who will teach, encourage, and further our growth as writers. We also need to have faith he will help us examine and weigh the critiques we receive, to separate the wheat from the chaff, to pick out what really helps our story and our craft and to cast aside the rest.

Bald Eagle SoaringSomeone once said the art of writing is putting the seat of the pants in the seat of the chair. And this is true. But before this comes another step: Putting the knees of the writer on the floor before God to ask his direction and plan. If we can’t do the physical act, we can all do the spiritual equivalent of time in meditation and prayer—quiet time with him.


How do you handle negative critiques?

8 Responses to Are You Being Tossed About by Every Wind?

  1. Deborah Dee Harper June 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm #


    Interesting post. I’m not a member of a critique group at the moment, so I can’t answer your question. In the past, I’ve found that finding a critique group with the proper balance of experience, genre, etc., is tough to do, and as a result, criticism– constructive or otherwise–is not as valuable as if all members were at the same level of experience, and also writing in the same genre, or at least approximately. I’m in the process of trying to find a critique partner right now, so maybe I’ll be able to answer your question later 🙂 Thanks for a thought-provoking post.


  2. J.A. Marx June 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    I’ve experienced the same contest-judge feedback as you described above. Industry opinions are incomprehensibly fickle. I even received opposing feedback during Craftsman residency. I take that now w/a grain of salt.
    BUT, i love the well-rounded feedback I get from my critique group. For me, in this incidence, “an abundance of counselors” is the way to go.

  3. Henry June 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    Thanks, Julie. Critique groups can be great when everyone approaches them with a helping viewpoint and a desire to learn and improve their own writing. I am blessed to have a small group that meets weekly and challenges me to grow,

  4. Henry June 19, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    Thanks, Deb. I’ll be praying God brings you in touch with the right critique partner at the right time.

  5. Diane June 21, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    Very insightful as always!

  6. Henry June 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Thank you, Diane.
    You’re a blessing.
    Working with you, Amelia, and LaWanda always helps me develop more insights into the craft and my own work.

  7. Joshua June 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    I’m not in a critique group right now but I’ve had times when someone made a negative comment to my work.
    Initially I would get annoyed, but God had taught me and I’ve learnt over the few years of my writing to pick out What is there to learn and not take comments personal.
    Great post Henry.

  8. Henry June 25, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    That’s a great attitude to have about critiques, Joshua.
    Thans for commenting on my blog.

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