One of the hardest things you have to do as a writer is figuring out how to handle criticism as an author. It’s the one thing that freaks the writers I know out the most.
Let’s be honest it freaks everyone out. Who likes criticism?
I know when I published my first book I was terrified. I was scared to give it to my friend to read before I sent it to the editor. And was even more scared when it went to the editor.
I was petrified to let anyone see it. What if they thought it was crap and I should give up my dream?
But I knew that I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to make a go of this. You can’t make a living as an author if you don’t put your books out there for people to see.
At least when your friend and editor comes back with criticism of your writing it’s constructive and out of love. Still hard to take but easier to swallow. But once you get the guts to publish and you start getting reviews it takes criticism anxiety to whole new level.
I would see someone had left an Amazon comment on my book and my anxiety would soar. I’d get cold sweats, and want to quit rather than look at what people said. I’d have to pour a glass (or 3) of wine and work up my courage.
It’s scary to have your work out there and having people tell you whether they like it or not.
It’s not any better now that I have more experience except I’ve learned not to look so I rarely do. Not that I don’t welcome feedback, I do. It’s invaluable to improving my writing. But unfortunately, there are too many mean people out there who just want to be assholes (excuse my language) and don’t care about being constructive. And no one improves or learns from negativity.
You know the whole, “if you can’t say it nice then don’t say it at all thing.” More people should adhere to that and not just people who leave book reviews.
When you get that bad piece of feedback, whether spiteful or well intended, you have a few options.
A – Go cry in a corner.
B – Drink a bottle of wine to forget.
C – Eat a cheesecake or a bag of Kit Kats. Oreos will work too in a pinch.
D – You can look at it objectively. Take whatever is valuable from it (if there’s is anything), file it away for future use, and move on.
E – any combination of A – D.
I usually pick E. I think it’s the healthiest though I’m not sure my boot camp instructor would agree. She’s not a fan of eating feelings. But you have to get that sadness, that anxiety, that anger out and THEN be willing and open to taking the feedback.
What is a waste of time?
1. Wondering why people are such assholes. You will never figure that one out.
2. Quitting. Hey not everyone is going to like you. You don’t like everyone else, do you?
3. Having a pity party more than a few hours. Yes, take time to wallow but then pick yourself back up and get on with it. Life isn’t rainbows and unicorns all the time. Being an author even less.
The best way to get better at your craft and shut up the Negative Nancys is to KEEP WRITING! The more you write the better you’ll get. Don’t let anyone deter you from your dream.
Besides as bad as a negative comment can hurt. The positive ones make it all worth it.
Thank you to the people who love us authors. People who are willing to say nice things and boost us up.
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