How to deal with criticism (or not)

by poppycoxhead

I have been writing and blogging online for a few years now and have mostly heard or read good comments about my work. I write regularly for a Welsh music blog and they, as most people do, have Facebook and Twitter for the public to communicate through. So obviously, anyone can comment on anything which is posted, which is a good gauge on which articles they do and don’t like.

It was an article about a particular music genre in popular culture, and it perhaps wasn’t the best thing I’d ever written, but I thought it made some good points and it was a fairly enjoyable read, a few people told me.

Unfortunately, one of the readers disagreed, commenting – ‘Who the hell writes these things? This might have a point if it wasn’t so badly written.’ Or something. Not that I memorised every word or anything. My friends of course hastily assured me that this person had no clue what she was talking about – very sweet, but I wasn’t convinced. You know what they say about the bad reviews instantly cancelling out all of the good ones!

I had two choices: I could jump to my own defence on a social networking site and end up writing what would be probably very angry and make me look like an idiot, or I could ignore it. I composed countless replies, but none of them made me feel any better, and none of them would have construed me in a good light.

So I decided to ignore it, and take on board this criticism. Yes, all of the other writers have seen that someone called me a bad writer, but it doesn’t mean I am. It just means that in future, I will read my writing that extra time, and make sure the piece flows coherantly, and more importantly, not sulk for several weeks, convinced that no-one thinks that I am a good writer (DEFINITELY didn’t do that one).

Criticism can be a good thing, but please, don’t torture yourself with every cruel word for weeks or even months – think about why that criticism was made (however tactless it may have been), and perhaps even ask your critic to elaborate. Then you can move on and become a better writer from the experience.

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10 Responses to “How to deal with criticism (or not)”

  1. Great post Charlotte and what a great Limebird debut.

    It’s never nice to get bad feedback about something you have written, but it’s always going to be the case that not everyone is going to like everything you write. It’s also important to remember that some people have nothing better to do than sit in their room and write nasty things on the internet!

    It’s so true that you could get 10 great reviews, but that ONE bad one will stay with you. So long as you don’t let it change the way you write, but just take it on board to keep on improving, criticism can sometimes be a good thing. I guess if you’re a writer, you’ve always got to take things with a pinch of salt, but I guess it’s how we deal with the comments is what separates good writers from great writers.

    • i was writing my comment at the same time but you wrote quicker (as usual) and we ended up pretty much saying similar things, you even said some things that i was going to say but left out! “It’s also important to remember that some people have nothing better to do than sit in their room and write nasty things on the internet!” … Very creepy.

  2. I think a big problem with criticism online is it is difficult to tell whether it is genuine criticism or just a troll. I think the important thing to do is have several people you can trust to give you honest feedback on your work. Maybe a random person online has found a flaw that your friends/colleagues haven’t but unless their feedback actually has something constructive it is probably best to ignore it.

  3. Readers’ reviews are often written by highly critical people. Sometimes their criticism is correct; sometimes they don’t know what they’re talking about. Only you can judge. But you’re on the right track. Take their response and learn what you can from it. That’s what I try to do.

  4. This is a great point (and I thought very well written!) :). Unfortunately the joys of writing on the world wide web is just that… billions of people have access to it, and you cant please everyone, that doesn’t mean criticism should be ignored just that you should take it with a large pinch of salt. Being a member of countless forums I can confidently say that what people feel confident saying online is a grossly exaggerated version of what they would actually say to your face and I think unfortunately quite a few people (including myself at times) forget that the articles they are reading are actually produced by a real life person with real life feelings. Anyway /ramble I enjoyed your post and look forward to some more from you! 🙂

  5. I have a standing policy when it comes to anonymous criticism. If the criticism is coherent, specific, and mature, I’ll take it seriously. If it’s angry, insulting, profanity-laden or misspelled, I won’t. My life is too short to try to figure out what someone means when they say “this sucks lol.”

  6. Hi Rahul, Tempusfits and Daniel (oh and limebirdsophie 😛 ),

    Thanks for the comments, I’m sure limebirdcharlotte will really appreciate all the feedback!

    Rahul – Yes that definitely is a problem nowadays. Like I said in my reply as well, some people just simply don’t have anything better to do than be harsh online! That’s definitely good advice, but it can be hard to find someone who’s actually going to be honest! Sometimes it’s hard to give criticism if it’s your friend!

    Tempusfits – Hello and welcome to Limebird! Thanks for your comment! That’s definitely true. It’s always going to be hard to please everyone! Like you said, I guess the only thing we can do is to try and take as much as we can from their comment positively! (as hard as it may be sometimes!)

    Daniel – Haha! This is so true. It’s difficult to take serious writing advice from anyone who can’t even formulate a coherant criticism!

  7. It is so true about people hiding behind their computer screens – it’s so easy to say anything if you don’t think about the person on the other side!

    Thanks for all the comments and likes, I really appreciate them, it’s really nice to get feedback and advice!

  8. I recently had a pretty poor comment on a game review I wrote not too long ago, obviously didn’t read it, just made up his own assumptions, I’m unlike you, you took the higher road, I chose to insult him back hah 🙂

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