“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
~Madeleine L’Engle

3 Tips for Writers Who Are NOT Their Own Worst Critic

Confession: I am not my own worst critic.

This fact goes against The Writer’s Code. Shouldn’t I feel embarrassed by my writing? Shouldn’t I review my words on the page and cringe?

not my own worst critic

Photo by Angelica (creative commons). Adapted by The Write Practice.


But if we’re really being honest, I often like my own writing. And honestly? I suspect I’m not as alone as it generally sounds.

If you also missed the your-own-worst-critic boat, high five. Take a moment and bask in your confidence.

What You Need if You’re NOT Your Worst Critic

But, we have to remember a few things so our confidence doesn’t get in the way of creating our best possible work.

1. You need outside feedback.

Even more than most writers, outside feedback is critical for us. While loving our own words can be a blessing, it can also be a curse—we need others to point out our writing’s weaknesses, because we aren’t as good at seeing it for ourselves.

2. Think about feedback before discarding it.

But it’s not just about getting the feedback, what you do with it matters, too. Our confidence can make it harder to fully consider critique. Before dismissing a comment from an editor, mull it over.

How would a given suggestion play out in your overall work? Think it all the way through before dismissing it.

3. Develop your own editor’s eye.

Even with all that outside feedback, we’re still going to improve our writing more over time if we can hone our internal editors. We don’t have to stop loving our writing, but being able to identify ways to make it even better can only bring good things.

So sure, it may go against the writer stereotype to like your own writing, but that doesn’t mean you need to feel self-conscious about it. Hold your head high. But make sure you have your blind side covered. Follow these three tips to keep your work improving, even when you love it.

How do you feel about your own writing? Are you your own worst critic? Share in the comments section.


Take fifteen minutes to start writing a story. Then, go back and review it. How do you feel about your writing? What are you happy with? What could be stronger? Share your draft and your thoughts in the comments!

About Emily Wenstrom

By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, a sci-fi and fantasy author whose first novel Mud will release in March 2016.

  • Louis W

    Like you, I love my writing. I have discovered that a suggestion from a reader or a good editor can, when applied, make me love it even more. Good job.

    My first prompt exercise follows:

    The last familiar
    thing I saw that night was the inside of a bus. The minute I steppe out, it was
    yellow footprints, Smokey bear hats, shoes that would make patent leather cringe
    and the chaos of bags and bodies shuffling in a mad race to and from those
    damned yellow tracks.

    “Back — bus you
    people – slow. You eye balling me boy.” Would it ever end? Knife edged creases
    in trousers. “You do not wear pants only girls wear pants.” More creases in
    shirts than Momma ever put. Bags, some packed my mothers, girlfriends, looking
    like over-fed ticks.

    “Put ‘em down pick
    ‘em up.”

    The brim of a Smokey
    bear hat thrust under the nose of a wide-eyed trembling lad of seventeen. “Did
    you mother have any kids that lived.”

    “A ten shun.”

    A group of us trying our best to assume the
    position soon found out that the Smokey Bear hat with the southern accent would
    never appreciate our best efforts. Orders. Crisp, sharp commands that left no
    doubt there would be dire consequences to anyone who failed to follow them and
    do it right. Pushups. Punishment meted out on whispered orders never uttered by
    the one the Smoky Bear hat leaned close to. Inspection, insults, thumps,
    questions regarding parental procreative practice. A chuckle that broth the
    wrath of the Smokey Bear hat on my head. I committed the ultimate offence. Above
    the radar. Down for pushups. I said a prayer thanking the Lord. Smokey Bear hat
    hadn’t tagged me with a nickname. I felt a brim above my ear.

    “On your feet Private
    Sweet Pea.”

  • Jess Alter

    How do you feel about your own writing? Are you your own worst critic?

    Hm. I am deeply critical of my own writing, though I do genuinely believe that I draft entertaining stories. I want every work I present to readers to be a smooth read from the get-go, so I’m constantly cranking those editing gears until my prose flows.

    Thank you for writing this ‘blog post, because sometimes it does appear that writers have to caustically criticize their own works to be respected. All three of your suggestions improve both draft and craft. They’re definitely keepers for every writer’s tool kit, from the critical of ourselves to the confident in ourselves.

    Great entry today!

  • Helaine Grenova

    I am not my own worst critic. I will look over something and do one of two things, rip it to shreds and accomplish absolutely nothing or look at it and see nothing wrong. That’s when my family who likes to read over my shoulder points out six or eight tense errors comma splices and the like.

    I feel like I write creative things and have some good ideas but I have yet to develop as a full blown writer/author.

    My 15 minute writing prompt is as follows:

    “I want you to promise you will watch over them, to your dying breath. Promise that they will never be without guidance and protection. Keep them safe as we will not. Change their names if you must, do anything and everything within your power to keep them safe. You will be granted powers to keep them safe, and to protect them. Guard them well, for without them, this world will surely perish.”

    “I swear.”

    Three years later running over the plains of Tousburg trying to find safety I half regretted my choice. I had been young and naïve when I accepted this assignment, only 300 years old. Most Butlers didn’t begin an assignment until they were 600, I still had 300 years of training left to accomplish. Training that would be forever neglected, now. I have to learn on the spot and in action as I try to protect these three little boys who manage to get themselves into trouble with frequent regularity. But this assignment came from the lips of another Butler. I was the only one who could take her charges and protect them, age be damned.

  • Jenny Bravo

    I try to be honest with myself and abandon my emotion when editing. I think it’s extremely important to get feedback from others, and to give it an honest chance.

    Being your own critic is a skill. It’s something that you have to improve over time. You start to recognize your own weaknesses, and can go from there.

    Thank you for a great post!
    Jenny Bravo

  • C.T.H.

    This was a great exercise for me. I rarely look over my writing when I post it on here, I kind of just have a few drinks and see what spills out, I usually catch most of the truly atrocious errors and wording but whiskey lets a few slip. After reading it, Im not sure how I feel, Im very wishy washy about my writing. I either hate it or enjoy reading it once or twice a few weeks after writing it. Im still really new to writing and find it really hard to find my strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully actually going through some revising, editing and proofreading with help me out in the near future.
    When you aren’t looking for a relationship there is nothing better than finding a girl that doesn’t want you. Its the relationship fail safe. If for some unknown reason your emotion-killing vaccine contained the wrong stand for the season and you catch the dreaded “feelings’, you can rest easy knowing she’s not going to text you back at 1am unless its a booty call and she doesn’t have Greg over already.

    Half hearted hugs, kisses that are pulled away after they pass the 3 second mark, are all earned with each night you painstakingly waited for her one word responses to your desperate questions. This “relationship” is worth it because it’s hard right? The last relationship you had came so easy. Every time you sent a text asking to hang out she actually responded that same day – shocker. You would go on a fun easy going date and you got bored after the third one. Remember that one? Thats the one she said, “I think I’m starting to really like you.” So now you sit alone watching another episode of American Horror Story on Netflix anxiously throwing glances at your phone waiting to see what Gracie’s favorite color is.

    You’re definitely riding the struggle bus now my friend.

    You certainly don’t want a girl that needs you in her life to be happy, that was your ex. You don’t want someone that wants you either right? They are always so desperate and you don’t want to break their heart when you tell them your future goals of being a perma-bachelor. So you’re left with the girl with dark mysterious hair and deep eyes. The girl thats been fucked over, not by a heartless douchebag by means of a bad breakup, but by the let down of the last BOY that couldn’t handle her. The boy she thought she loved, the boy she told her secrets to, the boy she opened up to completely, the boy she did things she’ll never do again.

    Fucking asshole, thanks for taking just another “hookup” and turning her into a challenge.

    So you’re left with talking to a woman that reminds you too much of yourself. Someone that doesn’t give a fuck about your overall well being. Someone that thinks you’re really hot, has similar interests, and has a special connection but 5 years down the road will sit you down and explain “what we even are”. You’re familiar with what she’ll say though, you just told it to Natalie…. remember her? The basic bitch you said was too clingy and unoriginal. She was a sweet girl.

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  • 709writer

    There are times when I read something I’ve written and cringe. But I’ll be honest; I enjoy reading most of my writing. I write Shadow the Hedgehog fanfiction and I absolutely love to write it. Sometimes I have to step away from it for a few days, but when I come back, I seek out my favorite scenes and am drawn into them. Writing is one of my all time favorite things to do. I can express myself like that and unleash all of my emotions and fears. Writing takes me out of my world and puts me into someone else’s, and often, that’s a huge relief. Sometimes I ask my brother to read something I’ve written and he critiques it for me. He’s very supportive and he never cuts me down, even when I’ve made a mistake (and I make plenty of those : ) ). Everyone, believe in yourselves! Don’t let what other people say or think change who you are. You’re all writers and you are good at what you do!

  • @mrchrisf01

    My boots have left prints in both camps. I will read an email I wrote 10 times! But, as soon as I sit down to write something creative, I turn into the Mr. Hyde of editors! I’m never really comfortable with my work. ‘:-/