An online devotional for writers
To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry. (Proverbs 25:12, NLT)
Early in my content writing life, I received a valuable writing critique – by mistake.
A client forwarded an email from his fundraising consultant, thinking to pass along the consultant’s contact information so I could schedule a conference call.
The email contained a line-by-line critique of a recent campaign I’d completed for my client.
Once the initial wave of humiliation passed, I stopped to take stock. The critic’s comments were valid. Yes, I could eliminate the first three paragraphs … move the ask to the top … repeat it twice more …
Moreover, the consultant had more than two decades of experience in fundraising and over the years had been responsible for raising two billion dollars (with a “b”) for noteworthy causes.
I decided to view his critique like it was gold – as a free writing lesson from a copywriting luminary (which it was). I never told him that I saw his comments. Rather, I used the feedback on the project’s subsequent rewrites and adopted the new skills he inadvertently taught me into my copywriting arsenal.
Scripture tells us to handle criticism: with a discerning heart. First, be careful whose critique you listen to. Is the critic an unpublished member of a critique group who is working on a dystopian novel while you’re asking for feedback on a feature article for a preteen girls’ lifestyle magazine? If so, listen with a grain of salt. But a worthy critic understands your genre. My anonymous critic was an expert fundraiser. Should I listen to his input? That’s a simple “yes.”
And constructive criticism not only points out problems, but also offers examples of how to fix or improve them. My critic wasn’t offering input for input’s sake. He had practical ways to fix my letter. His comments were constructive and valuable.
They were gold.
Test criticism. Hold onto what’s valid and constructive.
I confess that I don’t like hearing criticism. Yet I know that a good critique can help me improve. Give me discernment to see the value in criticism and put into practice the feedback I receive.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
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