A Bad Habit we Need to Stop
by Dena Yohe
(Philippians 4:13, ESV).
The writer’s conference started in two days. I bit my lip as I pondered what to bring for the critique group. Not that one; not that, either … and definitely not that.
I sighed and complained to my husband, “I don’t know what to take. The pieces I have aren’t that great. The last thing I want to do is embarrass myself.”
He shook his head and gave me the look. “Why are you stressed? This isn’t about perfection, right?”
Does this sound familiar? Too hard on ourselves, we over-criticize our writing. While we can always find more changes to make, this often results in a failure to submit something to a magazine, contest, or publisher. Our writing doesn’t meet our expectations.
Some of us have been writing for a long time. We’ve learned a lot and we’re not finished learning. We never will, so let’s take it easy on ourselves instead of being our own worst critic.
But we’ve grown accustomed to our pessimism. We’ve come to believe we’ll never be good enough. Self-criticism is a bad habit we can fall into and we need to stop.
Most of us were taught a fire safety drill in elementary school: stop, drop, and roll. We can use this strategy to help us end the bad habit of self-criticism.
Stop negative self-talk. Don’t beat ourselves up or put ourselves down.
Drop to our knees in prayer. Ask God for help to change. Give ourselves grace and patience. Bring our writing desires to him and leave them in his hands.
Roll forward into positive self-talk. Focus on our relationship with God and what he says about us. Trust him with whatever he wants to do with our writing. Spend time with others who share similar goals and enjoy the process of honing the craft together.
Take a deep breath and submit your article or manuscript, bring your piece to the next critique session, or enter the contest. As Paul said in Philippians, you can do all things through him who gives you strength.
Gracious Lord, please help us change where we need to. Show us if criticizing ourselves is a bad habit we need to work on. Remind us to stop, drop and roll. We depend on your strength and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Dena Yohe is the award-winning author of You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids (2016) endorsed by Dr. James Dobson, Family Life, and Focus on the Family. Co-founder of Hope for Hurting Parents, blogger, CRU affiliate staff, and a former pastor’s wife, she’s the proud mom of three adults, loves music, and time with her grandchildren.