When Criticism Comes

All of us face criticism in one way or another. Evaluations at work, grades and comments in school, expectations from our parents, and let’s not forget those ever insightful comments from our spouses (and children).

Criticism is one thing every writer must learn to deal with constructively.

Positive, helpful, criticism disciplines us; helps us grow and mature in our professions, our family responsibilities and our Christian walk. Hebrews 12 tells us that discipline is always good for us even though no discipline is enjoyable while it is happening.

As a writer, feedback and critiques have helped me grow. Early on in my writing career, the hardest decision was taking the risk to share what I had written with someone else, to ask them to point out what was wrong with it, to tell me how it could be improved.

But I needed to know. God called me to write, so I did. Then he suggested, nudged, directed, and finally, commanded that I put my words out there, to get instruction and feedback.

Looking back, this decision to seek feedback marked my first step in taking myself seriously as a writer. I signed up for the Christian Writers Guild Apprentice program where I actually paid someone to criticize me.

I’ve discovered when God tells me to do something, he gives me what I need to carry it out. In my writing, he has brought people across my path who are just what I need. I have learned something from everyone who has critiqued my writing, way more from some than from others.  From a few, I learned how not to critique but that’s another story.  Each contributes in ways small and large to my growth as a writer and a Christian.

My lesson learned: risk and ask for feedback, receive the criticism with an open mind and a thick skin, and trust God to give you the discernment about which of the criticism to keep and which to discard.



7 Responses to When Criticism Comes

  1. Kim Russell January 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Very good insights and truth here! 🙂

    As a Corporate Trainer, I had to be on the other side – the one needing to share criticism with the one being trained or the one just not doing something right – on a day in day out manner. I always tried to sandwich it between two positives that I could point out… to ease the main problem that needed addressed. I am all too aware that some people just don’t handle criticism very well.. and also aware of the wonders it can do for those who embrace it, and choose to learn, rather than be offended.

    Basically, it comes down to honesty, doesn’t it? With ourselves, and trusting the honesty of the one giving us the critique.

    I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to have them receive it, learn, and correct and grow. I imagine your ‘paid’ critics had similar gratification when you published your first book.

  2. Julie Marx January 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Good advice, Henry. I laughed at the line “I paid someone to criticize me.” Writers definitely must love pain in order to get better. I remember ten years ago trembling and crying the first day I ever let someone read my story. A cardinal moment in my budding writing career.

  3. Lori Freeland January 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Amen, brother! Somehow feels worse when you’re actually parting with money to feel bad. Had a bad experience last Saturday. It took me two days to slough off the “ick.” Then I picked some people I really trusted, to tell me the truth in love, and got an encouraging and honest critique that motivated me to stay up til 4 am writing.

  4. Janet K. Brown January 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    Henry, you are so right that discipline is good for us, but it doesn’t feel good. I truly believe God leads and blesses a ministry of writing.

  5. Henry January 12, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    You are so right, Karen. If God isn’t in my writing, I don’t want to do it. When he is in my writing, all the criticism is easy to hear.

  6. keiki hendrix January 15, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    I agree. This post reminds me of a video by David Wilkerson “A Call to Anguish”where he states that our society has developed a hatred for rebuke. When criticized, it’s best to evaluate the merit of the advice and adjust if God directs.

  7. Henry January 15, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    Thank you, Keiki

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