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Writer’s Life: 10 Ways To Deal With Critics

When I first decided to post my writing online for public view, I had no idea it would lead to pursuing a professional career. I thought a few friends and some family members would enjoy the posts and that would be that. Now, a little more than 5 years have passed and my fans and followers are over 100K. The number still amazes me. And there are days when the Internet and its social media algorithms make me question it all – but I am always grateful – day in and day out.

Being in the public eye I am an open book. And as an artist, I am of course my own worst enemy and critic. That doesn’t mean haters don’t find me. And when they do, I take it best I can because most are just trolls trying to stir the pot.

Two years after my first poetry post on Facebook, I released a collection of poetry and prose. Timeless Chatter Between the Heart and Mind is a collection of over 200 hand-selected pieces I was most proud of at the time. The first edition was a limited run hardcover with a beautiful cover concept image brought to life by the very talented Stephany Moeller . Sales were not what I had hoped and I felt defeated. A year later I released the paperback edition which is the current version available and started to branch out to more author-friendly spaces. I created an author page on both Amazon and GoodReads and reviews started to appear on both for the book.

Most everything written to me or about my writing was positive. It truly helped build my confidence and definitely was a big reason I decided to start writing full-time. Although I didn’t get too many reviews, the reviews were positive – all except one.

I won’t lie, waking up to that review gutted me. But I also knew at the heart of it was someone either jealous of me or simply trolling me. The account was created the same day the review was given and anyone who has ever read my words knows I don’t write negatively – especially about women. It did however humble me. I know writing, like any art form, is objective upon the one experiencing it. What was more important for me was I felt validated by the bad review in a way. I felt it brought higher meaning to the positive words shared in my name and the 4 and 5 star reviews I had already been given and still receive today.

It is easy to get lost in bad press. It is easy to allow haters to win – to cause their interactions to paralyze you or worse yet, stop your growth as an artist. I have been fortunate enough to receive mostly encouraging words in regard to my writing. Others aren’t as lucky or as fortunate. If you truly believe in yourself – whether that’s to become professional or remain a hobbyist, the only true opinion that matters – is your own!

10 Ways to Deal With Negativity As a Writer

Making your art public will gain you praise and inevitably critics. Turn the negativity around in your favor – use it as a way to motivate you to always strive to be better.

Haters may be negative but don’t take it negatively. Instead, take it as flattery. There is a popular quote that states something in the way of ‘if you’ve got critics, you’re doing something right’. Build on that and keep doing what you’re doing.

Not all negative replies are bad. If you can somehow turn the tables on those who troll you and in a way troll them back – it may gain momentum in your favor. I don’t mean get into a full-blown Twitter war but if you can joke or somehow create an amusing response to their criticism then do it. It may defuse the situation and if enough eyes are on you or them – it may have the opposite effect by earning you fans or followers.

Always take the high road. Even if you are not a professional writer, always act as if you are. Remember successful people don’t usually go around putting people down. They don’t need to. They are too busy making their own path to success.

Kindness goes a long way. As stated above – you will never make everyone happy. You will find those who praise you and wish for your success and you will have others who will be jealous of you. Indifference and better yet goodwill towards haters will show the type of person you are. Never allow the bad intentions of others to change your own good nature. Again take the high road.

Be appreciative of critics. Know going public with your art will always gain those who don’t lie it. But just like praise, criticism is validation that you have arrived. When you start gaining fans and attackers you are no longer private, it means you have finally arrived – see #2 above.

This might be a given but never try and please everyone. The moment you resign to creating art to gain fans you’ve lost the battle. Always create what is right for you – what feeds your soul not what you think others want. Trying to please everyone all the time will have a negative return – and your true fans will see it. So if you find yourself gaining negative reviews or bad interactions ask yourself if you’re staying true to yourself – if you are – then stay the course – if you aren’t – then make the necessary adjustments and get back on track.

Don’t be a keyboard warrior and never gather your army to do your bidding. Nothing is uglier than a turf war online. I understand how personal bad reviews or hateful speech towards you feel. But know haters don’t like themselves and their words are more a reflection on them than you. Let them hate – they will fade. Just continue to do what you do. and more importantly, LOVE what you do or change. There is no bigger critic than yourself.

Remember not all criticism is bad – even if it comes off as negative. It may help give insight to your art. It might actually spark something inside that has gone missing. We all get comfortable in our day-to-day living. So many of us are happy with the middle. Let any and all criticism relight any fire that may have gone out. Embrace it, but never absorb it.

Most importantly stick to your guns. This was touched upon above – do not try and please everyone. You became an artist because you wanted to share your own vision. Not everyone will be able to see it as you do but the ones who need to see it WILL!

Published inCurrent EventsDaily WritingInspirationJay LongWriter's LifeWriting Tips

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