Blogging And My Dreaded Circle Of Constructive Criticism

In college, as that slippery major declaration alluded me, I was able to opt for some interesting electives. One in particular stands out above the rest. It seemed like an intriguing and risky choice.

Creative Writing was not my natural forte. Most of the class consisted of everyone sitting in a circle and taking turns pot-shotting or praising another’s work. Besides my speech class, this circle of “constructive criticism” was one of the more terrifying classroom experiences of my college career. Turns out, my original works of fiction were altogether unoriginal. My haikus were too “overt.” My short stories were too “incohesive.” Most of the class did find my poems amusing though, if only because of their twisted nature.

To my defense, unlike most of my college classmates, I never was big fan of fiction literature. The scope of my repertoire included RL Stine’s “Goosebumps” in elementary school , and a healthy dose of Michael Crichton and Stephen King in middle school. After that, my passion for fiction waned. In high school, I only read works like “The Great Gatsby” and “Huckleberry Finn” because it was required, not for the sheer pleasure of it. This is not an indictment against my English teachers, but reading a few classics is the only thing I really remember about English classes. The technicalities of grammar and syntax were never a priority to me. As a result, I now probably couldn’t diagram a sentence if my life depended on it. The seven parts of speech also remain cloaked in an illusive fog of unknowing.

To exacerbate the issue, my mom recently (and gently) informed me of my constant confusion of”its” and “it’s” in my writing. Must have slept through that portion of class.

I highlight these experiences to bring up this point. There are many reasons I maintain a blog, but one important reason is to keep me accountable, sharp, and, indirectly, humble. Publishing a post is a bit like subjecting oneself to a circle of constructive criticism. And while I enjoy every encouragement I get, I know I need every careful rebuke maybe even more. In many cases I’ve gotten a response from a lone search engine peruser who leaves much for me to chew on and gives perspective on matters I’d never have even considered. As far as I know most of them never even return, but I still have gained insight from their stated view even when I completely disagree with it.

Sometimes when publicly wrestling with difficult theological issues I’m sure my writing can sometimes be too snarky, sloppy or dismissive. Like a Southwest Airlines mechanic, sometimes a few loose screws and bolts need to be tightened down in my opinions. In those cases, I appreciate a little friendly opposition. Because, “better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)

When I bristle at constructive criticism that only reveals the remnants of the old nature that still lie latent me. As the first couple was ashamed at their nakedness, I can be ashamed of being proven wrong or not being validated by my peers in every way. What really is at work is a prideful disposition that rises up from the heart with this snooty protest: How dare someone think differently than me!

So I’ll say what sometimes is impossibly hard for me to admit: Thank God people think differently than me. This life would otherwise be incredibly boring and uninspired. And my Creative Writing skills would remain plain awful, other than just moderately awful.

P.S. Please leave me an encouraging comment. Any and all disparaging marks will be moderated and swiftly deleted from my blog queue.

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

5 thoughts on “Blogging And My Dreaded Circle Of Constructive Criticism”

  1. The “its” and “it’s” thing is a pet peeve of mine, but I don’t remember seeing any mix-ups on your blog…hmm…

    Did you have Lynn Wallace for CRW? For me, that was the easiest class I ever took and I never sweated when people looked at my work because most of the class liked it, haha. It was actually the other way around. People were nervous about what I had to say because I was really critical. I’m sorry you had a bad experience! I took both years of Creative Writing because I loved it!

    1. That was the class! Overall it was a good experience for me and sharpened some skills. One gift that served me well in some of my college classes was writing semi-articulately about topics (with little effort) that I actually knew very little about. I found out, you can’t really “BS” fiction work like you can a political science paper. I liked Wallace, he was overall an encouraging professor…

      1. Yeah, you can’t fake fiction. It’s 100% more intricate than conventional academic prose and it takes many years of practice and sensitivity to other good writing to pull it off yourself! I know what you mean about spoofing your way through papers because I tried to sound intelligent in my writing through my classes too–even when I had little information and no passion to pull it off. LOL It works.

  2. Coach,
    I think you sell yourself short. You definitely have a gift for creative writing. I don’t read too many blogs because I don’t have time and they rarely grab my attention for two posts in a row. That said, I look forward to each and every one of your posts. Ok, I’ve only been reading for a few weeks, but nevertheless, I love your wit and thoughtful, well articulated ideas.

    I’m not a theologian, but I’ve read through the Bible almost every year since I was about 12 which would be over 30 times. That and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are my only theological credentials. My other teachers have been Blackaby, Tozer, Andrew Murray and Spurgeon (probably in that order). You can judge for yourself my theological qualifications. However weak they may be, I love the theology you express. You come across to me as one who has a humble and contrite spirit. I’m sure much of this is because I agree with what you say. At the risk of giving myself too much credit, I would contend that this comes from a unity of spirit. Your blog keeps my mind sharp (as a marble) too.

    Keep up the GREAT work. I am looking forward to a few updates on your team.

    1. Thanks Joel! You’re definitely one of those consistent encouraging voices to me. I’ve actually never read through the bible (though I should)! I’ve also gleaned much from 3/4 of your “teachers.” Tozer’s “Knowledge of the Holy” should be required reading in the American church. Nothing weak about your qualifications, any more than the apostles qualifications were weak! (Acts 4:13) Love that verse…

      Thank you again for the kind words. Updates from my team will be forthcoming, in reality, that may be about the only thing i will have time for once school and the season start crankin’ in a couple weeks!

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