How to deal with criticism in a hypercritical world


So putting yourself out there sucks, right? Its bad enough you have to face your own personal doubts, but facing the doubts of others can be downright terrifying. And if you haven’t noticed, people can be mean. Like really mean. And when you’re endeavoring to make a name for yourself in a field that’s all about criticism, it can be that much harder. Unfortunately, when it comes to being a writer reviews can make or break you. Until you’ve reached the level of success where you have a blindly loyal following that will pay top dollar to read your grocery list, reviews matter. A lot! So, how do you deal when you get a bad one?

  1. Use it as a learning experience. Okay so maybe they didn’t need to say that they’d rather have rusty nine inch nails power drilled through their eyelids for eight hours straight than read another page of your book, but is there something- anything- that you can take away from what they said? Perhaps you do need to work on character development a little more. Maybe you could have edited out a few thousand words. Sort through all of the moaning and name calling, and try to get to the heart of the issue. Often times the people who dislike your book the most are the ones who will give you the most valuable feedback because they are more passionate about their opinions, and will provide you with more details about your shortcomings. So wipe the fresh picked fruit off the screen, disregard the virtual booing, and get down to the meat and potatoes of the review so you can become the very best storyteller possible.
  2. But what if you can’t see it? Well then ask someone you trust if they can. Let someone look it over. A co-worker, a friend, a fellow author, one of your beta readers. Allow someone who you can count on to be honest and upfront to read the review over and see if it holds water. If everyone around you is saying the same thing than perhaps there is some wisdom to be gleaned from it.
  3. Understand that it just may not be their cup of tea. Recently there was a movie I was dying to see! Everyone (and I do mean everyone) told me how phenomenal and life changing it would be. I entered the theatre near to bursting with excitement, and left utterly disappointed. Case and point, we all see things differently. Based on our experiences, culture and lifestyle- we all have our own take on things. You may love it, she may hate it and he may not care either way. Learn to accept that not everyone will appreciate your efforts and that’s okay, because individuality is what makes the world go round.
  4. People are jerks. Yup, I said it. Some people are just plain mean. They laugh at other’s pain, unabashedly. That’s life. Now get over it.
  5. So don’t take it personal. Books incite passion. Sometimes more so than other art forms because the interpretation of the entire work is left in the hands of the reader. You envision these characters and then they become yours! It can be a highly personal experience and that’s why people become so attached. And hey, isn’t that the point? So the next time someone gets a little upset with you, remember it’s natural. (And hopefully) it means you’re doing something right!

So the next time you get that nasty one star review, the email that says that they want the six hours and thirty seven minutes of their life they spent reading your book back, or you are savagely brutalized by the harsh tongue of criticism, keep these tips in mind. Remember, like all things in life you’ll get better with time. So keep on writing.



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