Friday, July 8, 2011

Writer’s Block (Part 10 of 16)

I remember only his last name as Mills, but he joined a writer's group called the Scriptiques that I ran for nearly four years. Mills was fairly talented and he might have become a well-known writer. But he couldn't take criticism.

He read our comments on his manuscripts and listened when we spoke, but he didn't change anything when he brought his manuscripts back. He finally stopped writing. He had a number of excuses about how busy he was and his wife didn't like his spending so much time on writing.

Maybe those facts were true. But I think he was incapable of bursting past writer's resistance because he couldn't take criticism. The more our group pointed out his weaknesses, the less he wrote.

A few years ago I formed an online writer’s group, and one woman was talented—her gift was evident, even though her skills weren't that advanced.

Each time I edited her material I pointed out her weaknesses (and they were many) but also reminded her that she could learn the rules of writing. Each time I mentioned how much I admired her talent.

After five months, she dropped out. "You never have anything good to say about my writing. All you do is criticize. I can't take any more of your negativity." I never heard from her or about her again.

Some people can't handle criticism
so they give up and give in to writer's block.


  1. There seems to be a growing number of people in the world who will not hear that they have done something wrong or even less than perfectly. People, in general, don't strive for excellence anymore. Who wouldn't want to craft their skill into something better?

  2. I worry that I have too much praise, sometimes. I want to improve and do wish I had more time to devote to my writing, but am working towards that. Every day is to improve.

  3. I am where I am today because: 1) Someone cared enough to tell me how to improve, 2) I worked hard at what they told me.

    I will be where I am tomorrow because I continue to sharpen my skills.

  4. I am grateful to the online critique group I belong to. The critiques I value the most are the ones that point out discrepancies. I've also learned more about commas and proper placement through some of their comments. For me, the goal is improved writing. I like to hear what I do wrong, but also what I do right. Thanks for your posts, they are a blessing.

  5. Do you think writers in general tend to be more sensitive in nature than say, a bowling alley owner, a salesperson, or a carpet installer? I believe the creative individual must be sensitive to share their gifts in ways that nourish others' souls. But because of the fall, that sesitivity to minister gets twisted inward, to become touchy and defensive.

    How I respond to criticism also reflects my upbringing, don't you think?

    I try to look at criticism objectively, but I must admit I respond better to some personality types than others.

  6. In our critique group, we try to offer criticism in a spirit of love. Sometimes it doesn't come across that way and people get their feelings hurt. Those who want to succeed weigh the comments and accept what they believe is right. We write and grow and get published. But we have some, like the writers you mentioned, who cannot accept criticism. How sad to see them on the sidelines or not at all anymore.


What are your thoughts?