Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Learning how to handle criticism

Don't take it personally

Feeling hurt because a critic cut your masterpiece to shreds? You're not alone. Criticism and bruised egos are inherent in publishing and communications.

Here are some tips on how to cope with critics.

  • It’s natural to feel hurt about criticism, but don’t drown yourself in pity. Get over it.

  • All critics are not alike. Some are just plain cranky while others consider themselves experts. If you’re lucky, you’ll run into people who offer you constructive comments – objective opinions that can help you improve your work.

  • Understand that some critics will attack anyone or anything just to draw attention to themselves – to make themselves feel superior. Don’t take the remarks personally. Shake them off.

  • Separate the critic from the criticism. Realize that any criticism – even from cranks – may carry a smidgeon of truth. Be open to the fact that your work could use some fine-tuning, but never allow criticism to dampen your self-confidence.

  • Don’t dwell so much on criticism that you allow it to drain your energy and motivation. Deal with it, and then move on.

  • Understand that ALL writers have their critics. You don’t have to like it, but don’t let it kill your confidence.

It’s a sure bet that the more you achieve, the more attention you’ll attract from critics. If you learn to handle criticism in a calm and positive spirit, you’ll definitely grow as a writer.



Shirazi said...

Yes, but this is so hard sometime, particularly when criticism comes out of malace.

Ian Lidster said...

I appreciate this, Deb. I actually worked as a newspaper critic for a while and loved doing it. But then, to be criticized for what I do is 'entirely another matter, ahem' and sometimes it is difficult not to personalize.
A while ago I was dealing with an editor who liked my stuff and always ran it, but never without making such comments as "this could have been better if you'd only ..." You know that kind of thing. And, at first glance, I would be pissed off and think: "Ha, I was probably an editor while you were still peeing your diapers, etc." So, no, I wasn't taking the criticsm in the spirit I should have.
So, I find good reality checks, like the one you've just given quite helpful my dear blogger friend.


Deb S. said...

Ian: You never cease to amaze me with your broad background and expertise. You are definitely a pro, and your readers love you, including this chick. :-)

Fletch said...

I think you can elevate this lesson even beyond publishing or media.

Most people will encounter critics in many aspects of life "look at what he's wearing" , "she doesn't deserve that promotion". If you re-read the tips for coping from this different point of view, I think you'll find that there is a very useful life tool there.

Well done Deb.

Deb S. said...

Shirazi: You make a very valid point.
It can be difficult.

A friend of mine has his own small theatre company. He writes, directs, acts and produces. For the most part, he does not read reviews while his shows are running. And he typically gets very good reviews.

My friend thinks the reviews could distract him. He prefers to read them near the end of the production run or after the show closes.

Deb S. said...

Fletch: Thank you for your kind words. You are so right about the critics we encounter in everyday life. People can be vicious. And I've never understood the thing about "look at what he/she is wearing." What's up with that??

Back to media for a moment: I spent a number of years working in a TV newsroom. It's incredible the number of calls we would receive about a female anchor's hair style or hair color! I've never understood the preoccupation that viewers had with hair!

Rose said...

This is good. As an author you hear about much criticism about others' work. Oftentimes it is unwarranted. There's a lot of jealousy too. I try to take the constructive criticism and make improvements. But the hateful ones, you can almost tell they are done out of spite.

dsargent said...

Excellent advice. :-) I've heard interviews with famous authors who have joked that they could use their rejections slips as wallpaper for their homes, and still have plenty left over.

By the way, I've added you to my RSS feeds. Good work here! :-)

Deb S. said...

Rose: Since you're an author, I know you are an expert in this area. Good advice.

DSargent: What a pleasant surprise for you to visit! Yes, you are right about those rejection slips. It's good when authors can joke about them. I know that it takes some time for authors to get to that point.

Thank you for your kind words about my site. Yours is a winner, and I will definitely add you to my RSS feeds.