I’ve been thinking this week about being critiqued regarding my writing, my cooking, my driving (Hubby is notorious for this), and other things. It seems I’m always getting criticized by someone. I’ve learned to expect it from certain people and reply, “Thank you for letting me know”. Other times it causes me to examine whether they’re right, and if I should change how I do things. Sometimes criticism makes me mad, although I try not to get that way.

When my grandsons were here, they did a lot of critiquing, mostly on my cooking. They gave me thumbs up or thumbs down on most everything. Occasionally there was a horizontal thumb meaning meh. My pizza, for which I’ve earned a great reputation, was a meh. They liked the topping but didn’t like the crust. That’s what I get for getting it out of a whop-it tube to save time. I should have made it from scratch. My biggest hit were my grilled cheese sandwiches. The youngest grandson wanted them for breakfast and lunch. He said they were the best in the WORLD! That’s high praise. Later I found out his mom uses 100% whole wheat and I use white bread because Hubby can eat it (contains no milk). It wasn’t my cooking skills that won the day; it was the ingredients.

They also rated what we did while they were here. The youngest was bored a lot of the time, even though he turned our living room into a playground, so he was thumbs down on a lot of stuff. The oldest one is easy to please; he loves to read and brought several books along, so he was pretty free with his thumb ups. Mount Rushmore was a thumbs down for both of them, fishing at the lake a thumbs up. A ride in my new vehicle was got four thumbs up from the two of them. I was pretty proud of that.

As a writer, I ask for critiques on my work. I’m in a critique group who is brutally honest with me, and I love it that way. I want to know the truth. The group helps me see my mistakes and plot holes when I don’t see them myself. I need that much, much more than I need my ego stroked. I’d rather hear what’s wrong with my manuscript before it goes to print than after. Fixing my writing is much easier and much better because I can do something about it before I present it to the world with my name on it.

Consequently, I have a very thick skin where my writing is concerned. I accept criticism and use it to get better. It’s the best way to handle criticism from anyone. Develop a thick skin, but not so thick that you don’t listen to good advice. You end up hurting yourself if you do that.

Constructive criticism helps me accomplish my goals in writing, but sometimes criticism is just that. It’s subjective, and some criticism doesn’t help anything. It’s just someone’s opinion. It’s no velcro; let it go.

Learning to discern between good advice and bad advice is where wisdom comes. The thing about critiques/criticism is that you can take them to make yourself better or brush it off. The power lies with you to know what’s good criticism and what’s bad. You hang on to the good and forget the bad. That’s what a thick skin will do for you.

In conclusion, these are the things I’ve learned from my critiques in the past month:

Always make your own pizza crust.

Always use white bread to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

When another writer tells you your award-winning first page is trash, it’s only his opinion.

There’s a better way to start and end my short story.

I have the coolest truck in the WORLD! (source: my grandsons)

Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom and in all your getting, get understanding. Proverbs 4, verses 5 and 7

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