Critiquing versus Criticism

critiquingOne of the things that happens as a writer is you are subject to other people’s comments and opinions. Those opinions can either be positive or negative, constructive or destructive. Unfortunately, if you write, blog or guest post, there is no way around it.

However, I’ve discovered there is a significant difference between criticizing and critiquing.

I came across the following definition which I found helpful:

The Difference between Critique and Criticism[1]

  • Criticism finds fault/Critique looks at structure
  • Criticism looks for what’s lacking/Critique finds what’s working
  • Criticism condemns what it doesn’t understand/Critique asks for clarification
  • Criticism is spoken with a cruel wit and sarcastic tongue/Critique’s voice is kind, honest, and objective
  • Criticism is negative/Critique is positive (even about what isn’t working)
  • Criticism is vague and general/Critique is concrete and specific
  • Criticism has no sense of humor/Critique insists on laughter, too
  • Criticism looks for flaws in the writer as well as the writing/Critique addresses only what is on the page

I have experienced both. Thankfully, the critiques I have received have been helpful whereas criticism has had the opposite effect.

The Bible teaches us about proper communication. For instance, in Colossians 4:6, it states that our speech should be full of grace and seasoned with salt.

As godly writers, we should implement this practice and our faith should be apparent in everything we say and do.

Critiquing is positive and constructive while criticizing is negative and counterproductive. We must be thoughtful in our approach in critiquing others. We must be mindful of the spirit behind what we say as well as how we say it.

We all have opinions, but we must be careful and responsible in how we communicate it to others. Are we communicating in a meekness, gentleness and love? Or are we being harsh, critical or judgmental? Is our critique helpful or hurtful?

If you are a beginner or novice at writing, I believe it’s important to know the difference between someone critiquing your work versus someone criticizing it.

I am grateful to God to be learning the difference early on in my writing career.

QUESTION: Did you know the difference between critiquing or criticism? Has anyone ever criticized your writing instead of critiquing it? If so, how did you handle it?


[1] Taken from Writing Alone, Writing Together; A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups by Judy Reeves

* Image credit: jhritz (Creative Commons)

  • http://www.ordinaryservant.com/ Pilar Arsenec

    Thank you for having me. :)

  • http://blog.dawnaldrich.com/ D Aldrich

    Just experienced one of the cruelest criticisms in my short writing career thus far. Unfortunately, my creativity and writing halted for a couple of weeks as I peeled my ego and dreams off the floor. Thankfully, it wasn’t a “Christian” editor who slung the hurtful words. The experience has drawn me to closer to God’s side where He speaks truth.

    • http://www.ordinaryservant.com/ Pilar Arsenec

      I am so sorry this happened to you. I am glad you are not letting this stop you. God wants to use you for His glory. He gave you the gift of writing to point others to Him. I pray that as time passes the sting of this unfortunate occurrence will lessen. God bless you my sister.

  • http://twitter.com/Csterken Christa Sterken

    Was recently criticized unexpectedly, and it stings. You are so right, what an excellent article Pilar

    • http://www.ordinaryservant.com/ Pilar Arsenec

      I am terribly sorry to hear that friend. I am glad this article was helpful and blessed you. Thank you for taking the time to read it and comment. I appreciate it.

  • http://kathleencaron.com/ Kathleen Caron

    I like that Pilar.  Very important to critique, not criticize, which is just destructive and mean.  What is hardest is when people don’t react at all to what you write, when you throw your heart up against the wall and it moves no one.

    • http://www.ordinaryservant.com/ Pilar Arsenec

      Your writing moves people. God gave you the gift of writing. He loves to use you to communicate for His glory. Sending you a hug.

  • http://rebootingworship.com/ Jamie Kocur

    I learned how helpful critiquing could be when I started leading worship years ago. I had no idea what I was doing, and my wonderful pastor always cheered me along. If she had suggestions for improvement, it was always following a statement of something I had done really well. She made sure not to tear me down. 

    I have not run into any criticism as a writer, but I’m sure it’s coming. I’ve been very lucky to surround myself with a great group of supportive writers.

    • http://www.ordinaryservant.com/ Pilar Arsenec

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I appreciate it. Unfortunately, I have been a victim of criticism in various ways and writing as well. I was critiqued in my writing too and saw the difference. Criticism is definitely not critiquing. :)

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  • Rick Hoppe

    Excellent stuff Charles.