How to deal with criticism

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Step One: Lie on the floor like a starfish, staring at the ceiling. (Floating in a pool or other body of water works, too, if you can find one. But maybe not the ocean, because if you are floating in the water and thinking it is entirely probable you will a. be eaten by a shark, or b. float out to sea. Be sensible about this.)

Step Two: Think about the fact that it is entirely possible that this is not reality, and we are just in the Matrix, or a coma dream (it's not my coma dream, by the way. I would never have invented Crocs), or an alien child's petri dish. Your world is probably just a science experiment! Someone doesn't like you or your work? It doesn't matter! Nothing does! We are on a spinning rock in the middle of an unpredictable universe!

Step Three: If this doesn't work, remind yourself that even the people you idolise are criticised, too. Probably a lot more than you are. Read the negative reviews of a book you love. I find this a lot more enraging than my own negative reviews.

Step Four: After you've had a while to calm down and think about things rationally, see if there is something constructive to be found in the criticism. If someone is just being mean, you probably should forget about it. Not everyone will love you and recognise your genius, and trying to tell them otherwise will not make any difference. If someone is criticising your work, remember that it is not a direct criticism of you (sometimes people are bitchy and will direct criticism at you. These people are not very nice, and you should ignore them). You have to have at least some distance from your writing to be able to see its flaws and improve it, and to deal with people critiquing it. 

Step Five: Don't put anything in writing. Don't argue with people on the internet. You can't change the mind of your detractors, and responding makes the situation worse. If you remain very upset (which is inevitable if it's criticism on something like a book you've worked on for a long time and put a lot of effort and love into), talk to someone about it. Talk to the people who believe in you and encourage you and talk you up. And tell your friends not to respond to negative reviews either. It reflects badly on everybody, and you don't gain anything from it.

Step Six: In the words of Prime Minister Gillard, move forwards. Continue to be awesome and create the great work that you create, and stop dwelling on or fighting with or trying to influence the opinions of the people who don't like what you're doing. You can stop being a starfish now. We probably aren't in a coma dream, and it's entirely possible we only live once, so wasting time think about the fact that someone in the world doesn't like you or your work is a bit silly, really. There are a lot of people in the world. And plenty of them probably like what you're doing. Be nice and try your best and know that you can't really do a whole lot to influence other people.

If you have any tips for dealing with criticism, feel free to share them!
Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground