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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Feedback Should Be a Crystal Ball, Not a Wrecking Ball

feedback canstockphoto13060881 (2)

Judy Reeves, author of Writing Alone, Writing Together, offered this comment to my first post about feedback:

“Thanks for this post, Rosanne. I know from personal experience how criticism can do harm, but I also know critique is valuable to me as a writer and to those writers I work with. I wanted to pass along a list of what I found the differences to be between critique and criticism.”

The distinctions Judy offers come from Writing Alone, Writing Together in a section aptly titled “The Difference between Critique and Criticism Is Like the Difference between a Crystal Ball and a Wrecking Ball.”

writing alone book 12074“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 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”

Thanks Judy for your insight and observations! Your distinctions echo some I’ve made between judgment and discernment in previous posts (here and here).

I’ve seen far too many students and clients who were expecting a crystal ball and got hit by a wrecking ball. It definitely helps writers to know what to expect BEFORE the feedback starts (because we’ve asked for what the writing needs).

And just in case, we need to know how to get out of the way of the wrecking balls. More about those topics in upcoming posts.

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5 Comments on “Feedback Should Be a Crystal Ball, Not a Wrecking Ball”

  1. susannedutton May 30, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Reblogged this on susannedutton and commented:
    Great pointers for what makes for helpful critique!


  2. Paige McKinney April 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Sometimes wrecking balls seem magnetic, and once they’ve hit, a writer’s stuck. Any advice on how to let go or fight the pull?


    • rosannebane April 5, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      Good question Paige. I’ll include a response in the next post.



  1. How to Avoid Wrecking Ball Feedback | The Bane of Your Resistance - April 10, 2013

    […] response to the previous post, “Feedback Should Be a Crystal Ball, Not a Wrecking Ball,” Paige McKinney observed, “Sometimes wrecking balls seem magnetic, and once they’ve […]


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