How do you start writing again after someone has criticized your work?
For me, this is a hard one. Sometimes I wish I weren’t as sensitive as I am, but I know that there are benefits to being a sensitive person, so I can’t really wish my sensitivity away. Not entirely. Instead, I sit there and pretend I’m cool and not bothered at all as the person across the table insists on showing me how I could improve my work.
Pathetic, I Know
Bad feedback becomes a noise in my head. For the next day or so, it’s like the hands of my imagination are tied and I can barely even poke the keys. I hear a condemning voice that tells me I don’t know what I’m doing and what I’m writing probably stinks, and so I stop.
All the “head noise” shuts me down. I avoid my story for a little while—until that sense of I-can’t-do-it finally begins to ebb.
Steps to Surviving as a Writer
If you find yourself having trouble writing because all you can think of is what someone else said about your work, it’s good to do three things.
1. Remember What’s True
If the voice in your head is a fearful one, you don’t have to listen to it. Everything fear says is suspect.
Instead of letting fear tell you what is real, purposefully remember the truth of God and hold on to it: You are loved. You have worth. He is with you.
2. Remember What God Has Said About Your Writing
There are two different ways to approach this. First, what has God told you about your future as a writer? What are the promises He’s made you—even the very, very small ones?
Obviously, this will look different for every person because all of us have different callings and ways we will spread God’s glory across the earth. He may have told you something that is radically different than what He’s told me and vice versa.
Second, what have other people told you about your writing and how it’s impacted them? These reports can also be signs of what God is doing with your writing.
3. Remember That God Is Bigger Than Someone Else’s Opinion
Someone else’s opinion of your writing does not have the power to stop what God intends to do with you and what you’re working on.
A friend of mine once made some black-and-white statements about faults she thought she saw in one of my first books—a book that came out several years ago, so even if I’d wanted to, there was nothing I could do about her comments. What she said was painful for me, and she obviously thought she was helping.
Her words bothered me for days, and I realized that my biggest concern was that maybe she was right and her opinion would somehow go on to affect other readers.
But as I talked to God about this, I felt Him speak to my heart and I learned that my fear was unfounded. He showed me that other people’s opinions about my work have no effect on what He is going to do with my work.
God is used to bad press. He is blamed for many things, and all over the world, people make accusations about who He is and His heart for them. But His purposes still stand strong (Is. 46:10–11).
Negative feedback happens, and the only thing we can do is make sure our eyes are fixed on Jesus and that we’re listening to His words above all others.