Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Responding to Criticism

Have you ever experienced that soul-crushing moment when you pour your heart out into prose and some one, usually an ambiguous someone, turns around and criticizes everything you’ve done? Often with more insult than advice?

Well then, congratulations, you’re a writer!

And if you hope to continue along in your journey as a writer, you are bound to have this experience again and again.

And again.

I know, that is not exactly reassuring, but don’t worry, there is good news coming! We have to first ask, why is criticism so common? Are we really that bad at writing? (Well, a writing group might not hurt . . .) But really, the reason behind most criticism is the fact that writing is subjective. 

Yes, there are general rules that all writers must observe. And yes, writers should present their best version of themselves in their writing. However, on a whole, writing is subjective. That is the only way to explain why some people absolutely HATE Harry Potter while the rest of the world loves it. It also helps explain why one of my readers loved my book while the other did not care for it at all.

Writing is Subjective.

Everyone has different tastes. For instance, I will never like horror novels, never, they are not my thing. So while I might hate that type of book, it does not make it a bad book to everyone.

Before you decide to submit your work, you need to prepare yourself for feedback both positive and negative. THERE WILL BE BOTH.

Here are a few ways that you can and should respond to criticism:

  • First, you need to anticipate a mixed review. Maybe the book is perfect in your eyes, but your readers will be seeing it differently, so allow yourself to acknowledge mixed reviews.
  • Next, you need to read through a shield. What does that mean? If someone is being overly-critical, read through their comments, ignore the rude insults, and cherry-pick out whatever can actually be constructive. Usually there is at least one suggestive that you can work on.
  • Finally, after picking out what you can work on, forget the rest! Don’t spend days wallowing over the negative feedback and don’t allow it to corrode your writing!

 

Have you faced rejection or negative feedback?

How did you respond to it?

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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22 thoughts on “Writing Tip: Responding to Criticism”

  1. thank you so much. I once get a negative feedback but not for a book or literary work; it was much more for an academic work, and my teacher was harsh about it. really harsh. I have to admit I gave up writing any academic paper since then, but I can’t stop writing poems or any literary work because, as you have said, it is subjective, my view to something. so, even if they criticize me, I will try to follow your advice, and make those criticism as bricks to reach the top. thank you again

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I mentioned a while back my writing group didn’t like a story I wrote. They found nothing good about it. That hurt. No easy letdown. Just gave me the knockout blow. Were they right? Yes and No. We follow certain writing rules for our novels. I didn’t, so in that respect they were right. However, as you state, writing is subjective. As long as your story is compelling, rules don’t matter. But learn the basics first. The group should have been a little easier on me until I learned the basics. I stopped writing for six months because of it.

    l remember that when reading someone else’s work I critique. Be kind and give them the advice to improve not tear down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Darnell, you are so completely right! A writing group should involve critique but not straight up criticism. They should give suggestions but not ignore compliments! I struggled so hard to get back to my writing after a major blow but eventually I chose to push past it and improve myself and prove those people wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Here be what me matey Pat has to say: if I’m at a critique meeting I write everything down without judging. Then I go back later (once I’ve cooled off) and see how it would feel to make the change (if it’s a substantive change). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but that way I’m not trying to justify myself to the group.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the 50/50 rule. 😀 That is, if you get a roughly equal amount of like and dislike for your work, then you’re probably all right. (When you start getting vastly more dislike, then you probably need to do corrective measures… or stop hanging out at the Grouch Club.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha you’re not wrong Alice. Yes, if the majority of readers do not like your work, it is time to go back to the drawing board! Ultimately we are writing because we want to be read so there is that portion of writing toward an audience.

      Like

      1. Yes, although there’s nothing wrong in writing solely for one’s own sake, either. Also, as a corollary to what I said previously, if everybody all around likes your work, you may need to get out of the Feelgood Club. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. When I first started writing regularly in the late 90s/early 00s, I stumbled across this group on the internet that was based on critiquing and giving constructive feedback. I remember thinking how great it would be, but I was not prepared to have strangers tear my work apart. I stuck with it and learned invaluable lessons, even if I didn’t agree at the time. By and large, quality feedback is essential to growth. If a writer isn’t receiving healthy feedback on a regular basis, they need to expand their audience or look for a new audience if necessary. Another important part of the equation is ensuring you’re presenting your work to the right audience. If you’re a free verse oriented poet and your audience reads/writes a lot of sonnets and structured rhyme, you may not have found your tribe. I’ve also found that if we improve in delivering healthy critiques and give it regularly, it helps build trust with others, and in turn, we will receive the same type of feedback.

    Really appreciate this article, personally, I love criticism, even if it’s not “good” or “healthy”, because someone saw something they didn’t like, which to me is an opportunity for improvement, or at least a trigger for introspection.

    Sincerely,
    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brian, what a fantastic process of thought. You’ve got some interesting and strong points especially about regularly engaging in giving and receiving healthy critiques! That is, ideally, what a writing community should look like!

      Liked by 1 person

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