Writers need to be able to handle rejection. The same applies to creatives of any type.
You can’t take it personally. If you do, you won’t last the distance.
It’s a given that at some point, an editor will say no to your pitch or our short story will fail to impress.
While rejection is one thing, criticism can be a whole different ball game.
I would always listen to criticism coming from an editor, professional writer or client. But what happens when it comes from people closer to you? What happens when it comes from one of your family or friends?
Recently I heard a friend had criticized my blog. More to the point, she criticised my writing. In her opinion, it was not up to scratch. So how do you handle this sort of feedback?
Here is how I decided to deal with criticism.
Accept you will be criticised
Not everyone is going to love everything you create. Understand and come to terms with that right from the start.
In reality, neither do you want them to. If everyone is always telling you how great your work is (particularly in a false flattering type of way), how are you meant to uncover the areas where you can improve and grow?
You are going to make mistakes, especially when you are starting out. No one likes making mistakes but everyone makes them at some point – even the experts.
You will make mistakes and rest assured someone will be there to point them out. That’s simply a part of being brave and putting yourself out there.
It certainly beats the alternative – being too scared to try and doing nothing.
Related post – Don’t Let Fear Win
Take it on board
When I first heard the criticism about my writing, I decided to take it on board and make a conscious effort to improve.
To be honest, though it wasn’t easy to hear, I did appreciate the feedback and understood it had merit. I immediately begun to edit my work more thoroughly.
While it may be easy to get defensive about your work (and don’t be surprised if this is your initial reaction), once that passes, it is time to take a step back, put your ego and pride aside and examine whether there is a valid reason for the criticism.
Take negative feedback and turn it into something positive. Use negative feedback to your advantage.
Accept that not everyone is going to be a fan
As writers we accept this already – to a point.
What may come as a surprise is when the criticism is coming from inside our team of supporters. Criticism coming from a stranger can be easier to swallow – criticism from our close friends or family can sting a little.
Don’t assume those closest to you will appreciate or like your work. Remember the old saying – you can’t please everyone – so best not exhaust yourself trying.
As a side note, the criticism I heard was second-hand. It wasn’t said to my face. Personally, I would have preferred if it had been. Yes it would have been awkward at first, then I would have thanked the person for their feedback and asked for suggestions on how they felt I could improve.
As unpleasant as it may seem, we have to understand we can’t control how people talk about us. We simply have to come to terms with the fact that they will.
Examine the motive and source behind the criticism
As I mentioned earlier I would take on board any feedback from an editor, professional writer or client. It is important to pay attention to what they have to say.
Yet whether we like it or not, some people simply like to criticise.
Some people say everything was great – but. There is always a but. They have to find some sort of fault in everything, no matter how great it was.
Others just love to criticise people. Bring them down a peg or two. I won’t dive into this too much here (the topic of why people criticise each other is discussed in the related post below).
In my example this wasn’t the case, the person had a valid reason to criticise my work. In certain circumstances, it might help to examine the motive of the person giving you the negative feedback.
Related post – How to Stop Criticising Others
Don’t take it personally
While I mentioned examining motives for criticism, I certainly would not dwell on this too much.
Make a logical decision as to whether the criticism is warranted and then take steps to work on the problem area. Once you have done that, move on. Do not dwell on the negative.
One important point – under no circumstances, let it affect your confidence or self-esteem.
Related post – Don’t Let Anyone Define Your Worth
Prove them wrong
This one is by far my favorite. Prove them wrong.
Work hard, constantly improve yourself and succeed.
Have you had to deal with criticism from people close to you? How have you handled it?
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I am so glad I read this and will visit often. This is like a writing 101 class that I need. I am just getting out to the world. Someone always has something to say in the negative no matter what it is that I do. I’ve been judged before having a chance for the person to know me or where I’m coming from. I took most of this personally however now I know that the critcism will come and have accepted it. I have kept my writing to myself because I didn’t want anyone to reject it but now I have stepped into my new life and attempting to learn all I can so that I will be the best at what I do and in my way. Thank you I found you on she writes and will visit this site often. Good work people like me need this…..Rev. LaWaughn Rouse
Hi Rev LaWaughn
I can totally understand when you said you kept your writing to yourself. I did that for many years as well. My friends were always asking to see my writing but I could not bring myself to show them. Eventually my coach talked me into entering a short story competition (which I had wanted to enter for ages) and told me she would read the piece before it was sent off. Well didn’t that send me into a tail spin at first. Obviously I got over that one though!!
Good on you for stepping into your new life. That is fantastic! It takes a lot of courage.
I look forward to connecting with you soon on She Writes.
Thanks again for commenting.