Thursday, August 22, 2019

Writers Facing Criticism

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas

If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored. Psalm 13:18 NLT

One of the hardest things for a writer to learn is to receiving criticism and correction. Unfortunately, some never do.

James Scott Bell refers to it as growing a rhino skin. Jerry B. Jenkins advises authors to develop a thick skin. 

This doesn’t mean we make ourselves immune to criticism.

It means we make the time to develop the attitude of receiving criticism without personalizing it. We look at criticism and correction as ways to improve our work.

The first step is to realize our work can be improved. If we fail to acknowledge this, we are heading to poverty and disgrace. And we are dishonoring our God who called us to write in the first place.

God doesn’t give us the words. He gives us the inspiration. We give him our obedience and our talent. Part of our obedience is to learn the craft and to work to make our writing the best it can be. 

This means being open to changing it. Not just our own tweaking, either. We need to show our work to others for constructive and useful feedback.

We need to learn to accept correction. When I began this crazy journey of writing, I had to learn to swallow my pride and my ego. And I needed to learn to overcome my fear: fear of rejection, of failure, of being ridiculed for even thinking I could write.

God led me to the right early critiquers, people who knew how to give correction with an eye to improving.

My advice: Seek the perspective of different eyes reading our words, of offering suggestions to make it better. We don’t have to apply every suggestion. Learn to discern what’s valid and what isn’t.  

Pray and trust God to lead us to the right critiquers for us: those who have our best interests at heart, those who want to help us grow as writers.

How has having others give feedback improved your writing?


Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest.

Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers. 

Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.


  1. I am so thankful for those who graciously and patiently served and continue to serve as critiquers of my fiction. Scripture says that "iron sharpens iron", and these wonderful people have certainly sharpened my writing skills. Thank you for your post that reminded me of how much I am indebted to them.

  2. I don't have a problem with criticism because I mentally separate my work from myself. I find criticism helpful when it is mixed with praise. Honest feedback that includes praise shows me where I succeeded and what readers like. Both kinds of feedback are good, and my writer's group has a good balance of each.

  3. Thank you Mr. Henry. An important skill and mindset we all must learn in life, writer or other. While I believe some words come to us from God (through prayer mostly), I agree that we must take His divine guidance for a story and craft it using the gifts he bestowed upon us. As for finding the right critique partners? If it doesn't feel right after a while (e.g. they attempt to drive their own agenda or style into your writing, rather than helping you improve upon yours), I suggest finding different partners. God's blessings sir.

  4. Thank you for highlighting a wonderful verse for writers.