One of my goals as I walk this life as a Christian is to encourage others. As a writer I want other writers who meet me to go away uplifted and confident in their ability. This past week I had three opportunities to critique. Critiquing is a great way to encourage. In contrast to being critical, critiquing is helping others improve their craft while letting them know what they have accomplished is noteworthy.
Recently, I gained an accountability partner through my affiliation with Word Weavers. I receive encouragement, and I encourage in return as we critique each others work. I am gaining a lot in the process.
E-mail and snail mail critiques
Last week I also received an email from a woman I had met at a writer’s conference who asked me to critique a portion of her short story. What a surprise to be remembered after a year. The book I agreed to judge for an award came in the mail that week too. Neither of these activities came with a return-the-favor benefit as with the accountability partner. However, I fulfilled a directive from the Lord to be an encourager. I took the time to give suggestions to this acquaintance to make a good story great. Her story premise was fantastic, and I was honored to give my input.
The book I read and critiqued for the award took hours of my time. The benefit I gained was proving to myself that I could complete this task in a timely manner. It was great discipline for me. I can’t wait to hear the winners announced knowing I was part of the process.
Gaining fresh perspective
All of the critiquing I did helped me look at my own writing with fresh eyes. The book I judged gave me deeper insights into what publishers are looking for. I was reminded that encouraging others is not all about cheering for the sake of cheering but for sharing insights and observations that can strengthen my fellow writers.
When you give your work for someone else to critique, it’s risky. Receiving your work back with positive affirmation along with constructive tips makes the heart resonate an “I can do this” attitude.
And as one who critiques, if the individual I help is inspired to continue forward, that same positive energy motivates me to press toward a higher calling in my own work. Christian writers involved in a writer’s community whether online or in real time gain more than they can ever possibly give out. Encouragement is a hard calling that is not always reciprocated.
What have you gained through critiquing?
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