Finding Yourself a Teacher

You’re already aware that the world is full of critics. Come up with an idea, and ten critics will be ready to tell you why it won’t work. Critics, however, are evaluators, whereas editors are teachers. There is a big difference. What you need are teachers.

An evaluator will look at your manuscript and say, “It doesn’t set my soul aflame!” An editor will look at the same manuscript and say, “Burn it!”

You should not seek emotional responses to your manuscript. That is what a critic will offer. Save that for the post-publication assessments. What you need during the writing stage are judgments of specifics: grammar, syntax, vocabulary, paragraph structure, and content. As Thornton Wilder noted, “If you master your techniques, literature will take care of itself.”


Adapted from Writing for Profit by Dennis E. Hensley (Thomas Nelson, 1985; revised 2003). At Taylor University in Upland, IN, Dr. Hensley teaches students in the Professional Writing Major the importance of communicating. © 2012 by Dennis E. Hensley. All rights reserved.

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One Response to Finding Yourself a Teacher

  1. Thanks for this tip about emotional responses. It clarifies the path I am trying to take to improve my writing. Between my emotions and a critic’s emotional response (good or bad) it is easy to get in a vicious cycle and not be able to see the truth of what I need to improve. I need clear facts!

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