Monday, November 2, 2020

Rethinking Your Writing Goal by Emily Conrad

The problem first developed as I collected critiques on my work.

It didn’t strike me as a problem, though.

Instead, this problem masqueraded as a goal: To write submissions so good, my critique partners had as few comments about weaknesses in my manuscript as possible.

The more positive comments I could win, the better.

As I advanced in my writing career, I took those goals with me. Only, then, in addition to wanting to avoid constructive criticism and earn praise from critique partners, I also hoped to achieve the same from editors and readers.

Why do these tandem goals—avoid criticism and earn praise—now strike me as problematic? Well, because after years of chasing them, I see the futility.

First, though feedback is an asset, all of these sources are only human. They may be wrong in their opinions. There might be room for improvement in the areas they praise, just as there may be nothing wrong with something they criticize.

Second, there’s always more to learn. I may learn the style one critique partner favors well enough to avoid many of the weaknesses that person sees in a manuscript. Talk about pride that goes before a fall, because as soon as I switch critique partners or work with an editor, their fresh eyes easily find out areas for improvement I hadn’t considered before. I will never outgrow my need for feedback, so the goal of not needing it? Unattainable and thoroughly disappointing.

Third, any time we judge our success by the reaction of others, we risk losing sight of what God is doing and what He’s called us to.

And that leads me to a better, healthier goal: To steward the gift God has given me.

That perspective reminds me that my stories are not my own. They are God’s, work I do in His service.

He’s the boss.

And taking that analogy further, this is a very large company. The Boss has other employees who are qualified in areas where I am not.

When I work for an earthly company, I expect to have to work with others. I expect to give and receive feedback. I expect to have to make adjustments based on the suggestions of my boss and my coworkers.

It's not personal, nor is it a sign that I've failed or am somehow lacking.

Rather, each person has a purpose and a skill. None of us can accomplish alone that which we can achieve together.

Similarly, I can’t expect that my one role in this endeavor with God—to pen stories—will be sufficient on its own.

There’s a reason God’s given some of us the gift of writing and some the gift of editing. The beauty of our gifts increases exponentially when we use them together.

Yes, I’ll still write the best stories I can. I’ll still take encouragement as I can get it.

But it’s time to stop considering the fact that I need feedback a failure. It’s time to stop judging the value of my gift by the praise it garners.

Feedback is a sign that I’m being a wise steward. It means I’m letting others share their gifts. And working together, we’re stewarding our gifts and serving the God who called us.

There’s a reason God’s given some of us the gift of writing and some the gift of editing. @emilyrconrad #seriouslywrite #amediting

Each person has a purpose and a skill. None of us can accomplish alone that which we can achieve together. @emilyrconrad #seriouslywrite #amediting

The beauty of our gifts increases exponentially when we use them together. @emilyrconrad #seriouslywrite #amediting #amwriting


After a traumatic experience, the phrase "teach us to number our days" kept echoing in my mind. But why is that so important for me as a Christian writer? #faithwriter #seriouslywrite @emilyrconrad

Time is short. Don't let that scare you, but do let it inspire you to use the time and the tools you have to follow God's call. Right now. Today. #faithwriter #seriouslywrite @emilyrconrad

Though the #writing road is long, each step forward makes a difference. #christianwriter #seriouslywrite @emilyrconrad

Fueled by a desire to help women foster faith that flourishes even if and no matter what, Emily blogs and writes Christian romances. Though she likes to think some of her characters are pretty great, the ultimate hero of her stories (including the one she’s living) is Jesus. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and enjoys gardening, road trips to the mountains, and walks with her energetic coonhound rescue.

Emily is a member of ACFW and uses her customer service background to act as WebChat Coordinator for hope*writers. She loves to connect with other writers and nature lovers on Instagram. You can learn more about her work here.


The love of a lifetime, a quest for justice, and redemption that can only be found by faith.

Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she's pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it.

Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake.

If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake's coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both.

Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path, and finally find the truth in God's love and in each other?


Photo credits
Hands on keyboard photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Desk photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
Notebook and plant photo by Dose Media on Unsplash


  1. I am thankful for great editors. :-) I am thankful God gives us all unique gifts. :-)

  2. I needed this reminder of the Boss of a very big organization. :)

    1. I needed it too ;) Glad it came at a good time!

  3. It's like the physical body, isn't it? Imagine if one organ refused assistance from another or hormones weren't received by the receptor cells? What if the individual parts of our body worked in isolation? We'd...die. Still, it's very hard to offer our work for scrutiny because we in giving feedback don't always give it well (aka Kind AND honest). Great post, Emily.

    1. That's true. It's such a responsibility to give feedback. I've been reading in Colossians lately, and we'd all do well to apply vs 3:12 any time we're offering (or receiving) critiques. Thanks for reading, Mary!

  4. Loved this post, Emily! I've had to accept that perfection is unattainable. Writing is a humbling pursuit. But God can still use our "offerings" in incredible ways.

    1. I recently told my husband that if I wrote a memoir of my writing life, it'd be titled "The Continual Humbling of Emily Conrad." Ha! You're right that perfection is unattainable, but I'm thankful with you that God uses our offerings regardless.

  5. Except we *do* define success by the reactions of others. Sales, good reviews, awards - all based on the readers. Without them, you have no success.


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