Thanks anyway, but I didn’t ask for your advice.

My teeth grind like fingernails on a chalkboard when someone heaps unsolicited advice on me. So why do I have a section in my journal where I collect pithy bits of wisdom? Why is there a sagging shelf in my office stuffed with “how to” books on writing? Maybe it’s human nature to resent being shown our shortcomings… or maybe the problem is in having them pointed out by someone who appears to enjoy fault finding or feeling superior.


I am currently having one of my manuscripts critiqued by someone who is both a mentor and friend. She regularly apologizes for her suggestions but shouldn’t. Her advice is never mean spirited. I eagerly await her input knowing that her only goal is to help make my writing the best it can be.


Good critiquing is as much an art as good writing. Anyone with a modicum of editorial ability can go through a manuscript and highlight problems with its plot, characterization, structure and grammar. I believe it takes someone who has also experienced a writer’s journey — who has survived through the creation of her own fictitious world and thus understands the exhilaration and desperation that is a part of the process – to be able to offer advice in a way that is both helpful and welcome.


I am blessed with a mentor and “critter” of this caliber. I ask for her advice and am thankful for it. There’s no teeth grinding here!  🙂



Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

3 thoughts on “Thanks anyway, but I didn’t ask for your advice.

  1. Sadly, there’s a difference between critting a new writer who may not know all the ins and outs of writing, and a seasoned writer. I still have critters on some of my writers lists who want to rewrite my prose. All I can do is try not to be that irritating and annoying to another writer when they’re seeking feedback. Our dfferences should be a celebration.

  2. Certainly not all critters are created equal. I think it’s important to discuss the expectations before a critique gets underway to be sure everyone understands the goals. Also, the writer owns the story and so afterwards has to evaluate what suggestions she will incorporate and which don’t fit with her intentions for the story. It can complicate the relationship between author and critter if they aren’t on the same page before the process starts. My writers’ group distributed information sheets to the members with guidelines for what to do and not do when both giving and receiving a critique, but I don’t find we do a very thorough job now because we don’t want to offend each other.

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