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41 – How To Handle Critique
Few careers open you up to criticism and critique as being a writer. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how you could have written your book better. But the hard truth is that if you’re a writer, you can’t escape critiques and edits. Nor should you! Quality critiques and edits are your friends, helping you to strengthen your craft and share your message with excellence. So how do we learn to love critiques? Well, join us to learn exactly that!
Critique is an unavoidable occurrence in the publishing industry. Maybe you’re at a conference and you have an appointment with an editor, an agent, or a mentor, or maybe you’re just meeting with your critique group. Or for those of you who are published, you know those edits are coming!
While we’d all love to respond prayerfully, thoughtfully, and with a teachable heart and a willingness to work, we often…don’t. Instead, we can feel:
- Or we get caught up in feeding on affirmation
What hinders us from the positive, healthy attitude we want?
- Fear – We don’t think we can do it. We worry that we don’t have the skills, etc.
- Arrogance – We think we can do it without studying and learning the craft
What we need instead is a realignment of our understanding.
Writing is hard! Rewriting is hard! Give yourself a limited amount of time to be frustrated. Then take a hard look at the suggestions. Take the time to think, to pray, to get counsel. Read craft books. Visit reputable writing websites. Allow yourself the time you need to come to the solutions that can make your work better. It’s okay to not know how to fix something right away. What can unfortunately happen is that we panic because we don’t have the answers right now. But instead, we can learn to trust the process and trust that God is intimately involved and will give us the skills we need when we need them.
Make sure that you’re getting critique from people who know what they’re talking about, and think in terms of correction and redirection.
Three steps you can take to help you today
Remember this isn’t about you!
This is about the message God has given you, and the responsibility you have to share that with excellence. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”
Recognize that critiques and editing are “iron sharpening iron.”
It’s as much about refining you as refining your craft, about teaching you to keep your focus on God and the task He’s given you, not about being right. “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:4-5
Remember that this is your story.
Critiques and editing are helpful, and can strengthen your craft. But if you have a sense, deep within, that what you’re being told isn’t how God wants you to share the story, hold to what God says. I’m not talking about craft so much but about the core of the message and story. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment. “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God.” 1 John 4:1
Critiques, editing, those are simply a part of the journey when God gives you the task to be a writer. They’re not meant to discourage, but to help and strengthen you. Ready yourself to receive them with the right heart and mindset. Listen, evaluate, and then work hard to refine and improve. And never forget that you’ve already done the hardest part of all—you wrote a book! It’s on the page, so to speak. Now it’s time to dig in and make it even stronger. Not to make yourself look good, but to ensure you are sharing the message God has given you with as much power and excellence as possible.
We want to hear from you!
Have you ever had a difficult critique?
What helped you handle it well?
Critique is not the enemy! Learn to appreciate—and even enjoy—it!