Growing as a Writer Requires Humility


We’ve probably earned 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.

About the Author

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

  1. Brian Wasko
    Brian Wasko05-20-2011

    As always, I appreciate your input, Merri.

  2. Merri

    As a Write at Home coach, I agree wholeheartedly. The essence of a student’s writing is always valued and honored while the writing is polished. Even as a freelance writer, writing teacher and coach of over twenty years, my own writings can always be improved. I learn from each of my students because each writer brings a unique depth and perception into their work. I feel fortunate because my work gives me energy and excitement and I’m continually learning more about the wondrous craft of writing. Thank you for your fun-to-read, informative writing posts, Brian.
    All the best,

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