10 Ways to Handle Criticism Like a Pro

Maybe you write a book, and it's awful. You receive rejection letter after rejection letter, but you insist your book is good. In fact, it's great. So you self-publish, ignoring all that criticism and advice from experts. One week out, you get hate mail and horrible reviews.

Or maybe you write a book in a week, and it's wonderful. "It's perfect," the publisher says. "No need even for editing." It's sold to the masses and you are loved by adoring fans. Your dreams come true.

"We want you to write another one!" publishers and fans say.

You sit down to write another. But that blank page stares back at you. How did you create that magic the first time? You don't know. Right now, you'd rather have the earth swallow you up than to reveal that you're a fraud. So you fade away into nothingness, afraid.

Criticism prepares us for failure and success. So welcome criticism early on and allow it to burn away the dross of your writing, leaving the gold. Here's how I react to rejection from publishers and criticism from readers:

1. Frame it. Put it on your wall and show it off like a diploma.

2. Celebrate. You just accomplished something worth criticizing. Better to be criticized than to hide.

3. Thank your critic. Roy L. Pickering was so mature about my review of his short story that he grew in my esteem. When I'm famous, I want to follow his example.

4. Accept and ignore it, all at the same time. That means acknowledge it but don't take it personal. It's about your work, not you.

5. Learn. It makes you better. Even if they're wrong, stop and consider it from all angles. Maybe you stumbled on some truth by instinct. By putting yourself through the mental exercise, you bring that

6. Study. Criticism makes me a perpetual student, one that is always honing the craft.

7. Apply. Practice ways to deepen and grow and build and change to make a better writer out of yourself.

8. Throw a hissy and threaten to quit. Wait, what did I just say? Yeah, throw a fit. You're human. At least, I assume so. If you think about quitting and decide to keep trying instead, you've just strengthened your commitment to pursuing your dream. Hell and high water won't steal it from you. Besides, you want to get it out of your system before anyone knows your name. Could you imagine doing that in public when you get your first hate letter?

9. Remember that great writing is a learning process. Who was it that said that art is never finished, merely abandoned? There are so many stories to tell. Maybe next one will be better.

10. Send your critic a love letter. On ProBlogger, Gala Darling from iCiNG says this:


Another thing to keep in mind is not to feed the trolls! When someone comes by & tells you your blog sucks, you suck, your dog sucks & man, has anyone ever told you you suck?, don’t take the bait! Most of the time, these are just bitter people looking for a fight.

Read here to see how she handled it. I wish I had that kind of grace!

So tell me some of the criticisms you've received and how you would handle it. Did you pout? Throw things? Cheer? Or scream? How did it make you better?

3 comments:

  1. Glad to see you are honest enough to admit #8. ;-p
    I've lost count how many times I've had to remind you how much you love this and how good you are getting at it.

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  2. Just remember that, my love, next time I do throw a hissy. I said so right there and you just said you are glad I said it. So I'm allowed.

    Besides, it's in the privacy of my own home, and I'll get over it before anyone but you knows I've had it.

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  3. Rita, I like #8. Can I add:
    Throw a hissy fit and then think it over after a week or so, depending on how stubborn and hardheaded you are. Great points.
    Thanks for sharing.

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