Being a writer makes one open to criticism. Many have given up on writing, because of the harshness and intensity of the criticism they received.
The late President Theodore Roosevelt, in the face of a deluge of criticism in the past, remarked :
"It is not the critic who counts; nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."*
As writers, we are in the arena of life.
We are open to criticisms, whether constructive or not. Three things will always anchor us and keep us from "sinking":
1. Our love for writing
2. Our sense of humor or the ability
to laugh at ourselves
3. Our ability to handle criticism
Chuck Swindoll, in his book "Come Before Winter", mentioned that "equally important, of course, is the ability to sift from any criticism THAT WHICH IS TRUE, that which is fact. We are foolish if we respond angrily to every criticism. Who knows, God may be using those criticisms to teach us some essential lessons, painful though they may be." *
When the criticism comes from a friend, we can trust that it is honest and constructive. The criticism is given out of a good intention, to "sharpen us". When it comes from someone who hardly knows us, we must carefully filter out what is true and disregard the false, and always remember not to let it affect us inwardly.
The Bible says in Proverbs 27:5-6,9
"Better is open rebuke than hidden love." (v.5)
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend."
"The pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel." (v.9)
A real friend will tell us we are wrong, even if it hurts us. A friend's motives will always be for our good, for our improvement.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (v.17)
Criticism helps us improve our writing, as long as it is with regard to our work, and not "below the belt" or a personal attack. The manner of expression must also be cordial and not rude or demeaning. I had an experience like that, when I "invited" my fellow writers here at Authors Den to view a
poem I wrote, and one writer remarked peevishly that "my poetry was trashy and that I was begging for reviews". Being new at AD, I was taken
aback and wanted to just quit. My love for writing, however, thickened my skin and made me continue to write as best as I could.
We may never be perfect, nor be like the great masters of literature, but at least we run the race. That is better than just sitting at the benches throwing stones.
*Quotes taken from "Come Before Winter"
by Chuck Swindoll,Inc. (1985) published by Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon, USA
Bible verses taken from New International Version, Teen Study Bible,
Zondervan Publishing House
Grand Rapids, Michigan USA