How NOT to take criticism as a writer

how to take criticism as a writer


Any writer seeking to break into the industry will get both constructive and negative criticism. Ranting to publishers and reviewers is not an option.

It’s an unpleasant truth that if you’re trying to make a living in a creative arena some people are going to criticise you. I know, right? (By the way, if your first response to that is ‘how dare they’ you need this article MORE than anyone else).

So, criticism, whether constructive or not, is a part of your life from here on in. It’s easy to tell you HOW to respond to criticism – either ignoring it if it’s stupid or a polite ‘thank you for the review’ if it’s well-thought-out. It’s even easier to show you HOW NOT TO.

1: Don’t ask for it to be taken down.

The only reason to take down a review is if it’s factually inaccurate. If it’s just that they didn’t like your work, that is not a good enough reason. Most review sites will refuse to take down a review even if it IS inaccurate, but will agree to amend it (this is certainly true for the reviews on my own website) so you just end up looking bad.

2: Don’t get emotional

It’ll lead you to say stupid things. They may have ripped your work apart, and that probably hurts, but DON’T GET EMOTIONAL ON THEM. That just lets people know you’ve got a chink in your armour. Thank them for the review, resist the urge to defend yourself, and have a healthy cathartic bytch about it to your family and friends. It’s what they’re for.

3: Don’t insult the reviewer

I shouldn’t have to explain this to you. No matter how ‘mean’ they were, no matter how right you are, the second you throw an insult you have lost the argument… and you’ve got yourself TONS of negative publicity. Sure, it’s publicity, but there IS such a thing as bad attention, and those people won’t translate into fans. If it goes viral, the whole internet now thinks you’re a rude bully who can’t take their lumps.

Actual author rant #2

4: Check your spelling

If the main criticism is that your grasp of grammar or spelling is dodgy, please try to make sure your flame where you claim you have no such problems is accurate.

In all honesty? If you can’t take negative criticism without having a go at the person dishing it, perhaps you shouldn’t do creative work. It can be a vicious industry, and building a thick skin is essential.