Writing is subjective. And, we can’t please everybody. Nor should we try, because that would be an exercise in futility.
That being said, criticism can really sting. Inevitably, the immediate reaction is to be defensive − because it hurts our feelings and, if we’re really honest, our ego. Sometimes it makes us angry, especially when the criticism is either unfounded or, worse, mean-spirited.
Conversely, constructive criticism can be a good thing. After all, we should always strive to write better and if we determine that there is merit to the criticism, why not apply it?
Whether the criticism is useless, biased, well-informed, helpful, or downright nasty − the important thing to remember is: always respond with grace.
Here are a few suggestions:
- No need to crawl under the covers or curl up in the fetal position. Remember the old childhood chant “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Now, keep repeating that one hundred times and maybe you’ll believe it! Seriously, though, they are only words. Try to develop a thicker skin because, as a writer, you will always be subject to criticism. Get used to it. It’s how you handle it that counts.
- Bite your tongue (not a literal suggestion, folks!). Sit on the criticism for awhile. Your first reaction may not be your best. Digest the information, formulate your thoughts and respond − logically, and with grace.
- Whatever you do don’t lash out at the critic! You may be inclined to tell them to #$@% &##! Not a good idea. You may be tempted to criticize them right back. Not a graceful approach. You’re better than that. And, you don’t want to appear defensive.
- Just say “thank you.” And then either apply the criticism (i.e. learn from it) or move on.
- Look at it as an opportunity to improve. After all, isn’t that the goal?
Don’t let criticism paralyze you. Keep writing. Keep learning. And, hold your head up high. Just don’t trip over yourself.
Image via guardian.co.uk.