A Key Characteristic for Aspiring Writers


We probably deserve it, but writing teachers have a terrible reputation. We’re all critical, opinionated, condescending and nit-picky, right? Actually, no. I happen to know many writing teachers who are warm, friendly, and genuinely interested in helping kids write better. In fact, that’s the only kind of person who gets to work with students at WriteAtHome!

Now even the most kindhearted writing coach can lose patience, or get a little snippy, but we do our best to keep things positive and encouraging. The problem is that pointing out errors and suggesting improvements are unavoidable parts of our job. In order to help, we have to correct mistakes. There’s no getting around it. All we can do is try hard to be gracious and friendly as we go about it. And truthfully, that’s what WriteAtHome writing coaches do best.

It helps if students understand that an important part of growing as a writer involves taking criticism. In fact, the students who improve the most are those who not only accept, but appreciate well-meaning criticism.

I understand why this can be hard. Writing is difficult for almost everyone, and it’s hard to take criticism on something we’ve sweated over. Worse still, writing is so darn personal. We pour a little bit of ourselves into everything we write. We share our ideas, opinions, even our dreams. It is therefore understandably difficult to separate criticism of my writing from criticism of me as a person. But making that distinction is necessary. Confusing your pronoun case is not a reflection of your character! In fact, correcting your writing is a way your writing coach shows you how much she cares for you.

So here’s my advice for anyone who wants to be a decent writer: Learn to embrace critique with humility. Assume that you always have more to learn and believe the best about the motives of your writing teacher. Even if they seem a little snippy now and then.


I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments and suggestions below.

About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Rhonda Barfield
    Rhonda Barfield05-02-2013

    When I wrote my first published article, for Clavier magazine, the editor reworded almost half of it. I was devastated, but learned a lot, and I try to keep both of these ideas in mind when I work on student papers for WriteAtHome.

  2. Amal

    Hello Brian,
    I completely agree with you. There is no gain,no pain. Writing my essays while studying were my biggest problem. i received many As at different subjects, but whenever there was a writing assignment my grade would drop into the lowest . Since then i have been working on developing my writing style. i hope i can get some help from Write At Home site.

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko05-02-2013

      I’d like to think we can help here, Amal. Feel free to ask particular questions. You can follow us on Facebook too, where we share even more helpful material for growing writers.

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