Handling Criticism

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Or, Turning Criticism Into Critiquing

Today, a writer friend of mine got a negative review on one of his works. It was his first bad review.

Sure, the positive reviews make us feel wonderful. Powerful. Freaking IMMORTAL.

And the negative ones can drag us down into a sinkhole of depression. A deep one. That falls through to the other side of the planet.

So how best to handle these reviews that get us down? Short of screaming invective, punching the walls, and hiding in a dark closet sobbing uncontrollably?

Those of you who know me best know that I have a very long background in the performing arts. A book, like a piece of music, is a transcient thing–it unfolds through time, never to be experienced the same way again. This is exactly why critical analysis of your own work post-publication is so important.

And ego is a pesky little bugaboo that contributes nothing useful to that particular conversation.

Of course it can be hard to cast ego aside. We lost sleep, we forgot to eat, we poured our heart and soul and every bit of relevant minutiae we could find into the book that someone else just shot down. Of course, our ego is going to throw a conniption.

STOP with the emotional outburst for a few. Put yourself in your reviewer’s shoes. First off, you’re two different people, not clones of each other. Take what they said and give it to the analytical side of your brain to think about, attempting to see it from their point of view. Use their words as a starting point in critiquing your own book. You might be surprised by the insights you get back in turn.

THEN you can scream invective, punch walls, and hide yourself in a dark closet sobbing into your bathrobe.

Venting Is good too. 🙂

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