You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it too.

Here Lamott addresses a student in a writing group who callously tells another student how bad his writing is. She refrains from reprimanding the critic in public and actually praises her honesty. But she also points out that the truth does not always need to be so harsh. One can guide another gently to the truth without demoralizing or condemning him. Lamott advocates a compassionate approach to writing—and life—whenever possible. Even when she is in conflict with her students, she believes that one should be caring and giving. Honesty has its place in the writing process, as Lamott makes clear in the first chapter, but brutal honesty is largely unnecessary.