Encouragement for Writers


On Christmas Eve I received a great gift.

Christmas at the Bennet house
Christmas at the Bennet house

The three critiques for the second novel I entered in the ACFW First Impressions contest arrived in my inbox. As my wonderful husband predicted, they were far more positive than my first novel’s scores. I didn’t expect that—I mean, I’m the same writer, right? How could two entries be judged so differently? Subject matter, I believe. But regardless of the reason, I felt much more encouraged that I may have the makings of a true author yet.

The encouragement of others makes a world of difference!

Those of you who commented and wrote encouraging emails in response to my post last week really turned my heart around. Thank you for your vote even if you weren’t a contest judge! Another positive was the advice from the sender of the email containing my critiques. Her gracious and wise comments offered a perspective that was very liberating. I also read some great blog posts regarding how writers can respond to reviews and critiques. Here’s the compiled (some repeated by many) advice I found most encouraging:

  • Put away the critiques after reading them once and read them later with a freshly open mind.
  • Writing is subjective and you have no idea what the judge has been through personally before commenting on your writing. Remember this is their opinion. Take it with much salt. (Charles Dickens, one of my fave authors, would never stand a chance in today’s market!)
  • Throw out anything you don’t agree with. (Really?? Wow! Cool. Still want to keep an open mind though.)
  • Pay attention to any area commented on by more than one judge.
  • Any criticism is meant to help you launch into better writing.

After Christmas I took out all six critiques again.

I laid them side by side from the lowest score to the highest. From the first point to the last on each I looked for the highest scored areas and the lowest.  Then I looked for any common areas that I seemed to do well in as well as any I need to improve. This time reading through them, I attempted to be more objective and analytical in order to find ways to grow in my writing.

Plot and structure appear to be my weak spot.

That’s probably why I feel like I’m in the deep end treading water now that I’ve hit almost the middle of my first novel! So I ordered a couple of recommended books by James Scott Bell to help me swim. (Or write, as it were.)

In the end, I’m so glad I entered the contest. I’m grateful to the judges for their input and advice, and for all the encouragement from readers and other writers! I hope to emerge a better writer as a result of this. Someday, maybe I’ll even become a professional!

What has been encouraging to you as you write? What are your weak areas? What advice or encouragement do you have for other writers?

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