Writers’ groups and their goals are as varied as the words on a page. They range from the tender and all-forgiving to the meanest criticism in the world. I’ve been a member of both types of groups and I definitely prefer the kinder kind.
Unfortunately, some people thrive on shredding your work to pieces because “their type of writing is right,” and therefore, yours cannot possibly be. Many a writer will tell you that harsh criticism stilled their words for months on end.
Of course we should speak the truth with love but never with underlying vicious motives. Dare we ask ourselves how kind we are to other scribblers?
Do we help and encourage or do we ridicule and ignore?
Do we answer their questions or keep all our hard-earned knowledge to ourselves?
Do we focus on the work and not the person or their genre?
Do we try to see the manuscript from the writer’s point of view, not ours?
Do we offer suggestions and not demands?
Do we listen—I mean really listen—to the story or are we correcting their work in our heads as they read?
Do we allow a fellow writer to fail without offering our personal fix?
Can we truthfully say that we are tactful, kind, and polite?
Do we offer grace, mercy, and even compassion?
I know we all have off days where we say what we wish we hadn’t. But today let’s all examine the way we offer criticism to another’s work—because some days, we will be the ones being criticized.