fyi: universal popularity is a myth.

| Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Today's Tune: Heads Will Roll

HEY DUDES AND LADIES HOW'S IT GOING. I feel like I'm super out of the loop. NOT BLOGGING FOR A FEW WEEKS WILL DO THAT TO YOU. I hope you're well! I hope you're writing lots and lots! I feel that I have a bit more breathing room lately, so hopefully I can get back into regular blogging, yeah? We'll just test that theory out for a week or two and see how it goes :)

I thought I'd ease back in with a post on the importance of being able to accept criticism, which I believe I've spoken on before, but what the heck.

Let's just get this out of the way right now: there will be people out there who don't like your writing. They may even hate it. They won't like the tone, or the style, or the voice. Your writing tics may annoy them. Maybe they won't connect with your characters, or find fault in how you portray a certain topic. Bottom line: not everyone will love you.

They may be completely justified in their criticism (maybe you really DO overuse adverbs and need to dial it back), or it may just be a matter of personal opinion. But that's 100% their right. Opinions differ. If we all liked the same things, then we'd all be the same person. Sounds like a dystopian thriller waiting to happen amiright.

Here's the thing: criticism hurts, sure. Especially when you feel it's mean-spirited or unfounded. Ultimately, though, we have to understand that it will happen. It will happen to us. Not everyone abides by some secret code of "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Nor should they have to. Criticism may not always help you grow, but I think it almost always makes your work stronger. It reinforces the opinions of those who loved the work, and causes them to reconsider what made them love it so much. If you can stand up to harsh criticism and take it in stride, it makes you that much stronger and more prepared for your next adventure.

If you feel you need constant praise and reassurance that your work is wonderful and amazing and perfect, I feel like you're actually cheating yourself. The greatest literary minds in history have suffered endless critique and criticism, often during their lifetimes. Not that I'm saying everyone who receives criticism is a literary genius or anything (I am REALLY not saying that), but the greats did persevere through that adversary. They took it. Some of them shrugged it off. Others were deeply wounded. But they kept on keepin' on, because that's what you have to do in this profession. You have to take the good with the bad.

Take criticism. Take critiques. Learn from them. Even if the only lesson you take away is "people can be jerks," it's still a lesson worth learning. Don't limit yourself or discount the opinions of others just because it's not all happiness and light all the time. You do yourself no favors by surrounding yourself with a golden bubble.

So, let's all say it together: it's okay if people don't like my work. It's okay if they're jerks and give me a nasty review. It's okay if they say my characters are flat and my plot is uninspired. They're allowed that opinion. If their comments have merit, then I can take that to my next project. If not, then I'll hold my head up high and keep on rolling. Or I'll pack it in.

Because no matter what people say, if you're doing what you love, more power to you. Just don't be that person that sticks their head in the sand because they think they're untouchable. No one's untouchable. Not even the greats.

Ultimately, if someone reviews your work? It means they care. In some way, they think it's worth their time to talk about your work. So take that for what it's worth.


{ Matthew MacNish } at: March 9, 2011 at 9:54 AM said...

Well said. Even some of the best books are not liked by some people. Also, even some of the worst books are loved by some people. It can't be avoided.

{ jjdebenedictis } at: March 9, 2011 at 11:49 AM said...

Every one of my all-time favoritest-book-evers have something in them that could be improved. There's no such thing as a perfect book.

Therefore, there is no book that cannot and will not be criticized. As you say, the writer has to learn to roll with the punches.

{ Old Kitty } at: March 9, 2011 at 3:21 PM said...

Oh I don't know. At the moment I hurt on behalf of my friends who are published and who are getting some really nasty reviews of their life's work. It's awful. I know, I know not everyone will fall in love with one's work but then when I see someone's story/novel trashed and dismissed and thrown aside in a matter of ten or so words knowing that this writer went through hell and back to write their novel and then get their work published... oh I don't know, it hurts and it's not even my novel or my blood sweat and tears, but boy oh boy. It hurts.

Take care

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