The Big Bad Critic: How does a Writer Handle Negative Criticism?

I was planning on going to bed, but for some reason I was browsing the KDP community site and the forums.  Mostly reading some of the important posts and what not, until I came across a thread about negative reviews on Amazon and how they should be taken down, etc etc.  Now, I’m usually not the debating type. I do understand there will be reviewers/critics out there who have nothing better to do with their lives than to put other people down, especially writers.  However, I don’t believe Amazon or Kindle should take down negative reviews just because they’re negative.

So, this was what was keeping me up tonight. Not only that, but someone unknown took me off their watch list. Ouch! 😦 That kinda hurts…I thought people would want to watch me, because I still have some good topics left that I’d like to post about. Okay, so what is a writer to do? I understand no writer is perfect, but without some constructive feedback and some negative opinions how are we supposed to learn anything? Now, I’m not supporting personal attacks on authors or foul language. There will be reviewers out there who…let’s face it, have no class, no standards, no morals, no goals, and no manners!  😐

Most writers call these types of people Flamers! They are people who like to fuel the fire, spewing out hateful rhetoric and no matter what…they want to bring you down to their level, because that’s how they feed. Like a school of feeding sharks or frenzy flesh-eating piranhas.  They have such low self-esteem they have to bring you down in order to feel better about themselves. Some of them are writers themselves, avid readers, or miserable people who hate their lives. They can be anyone!

It’s tough being a writer. No one said it was going to be easy for us, that’s for sure. But to face all that criticism is difficult and you need to learn how to be thick-skinned. Now, it doesn’t matter the years of experience a writer has or doesn’t have…there will always be The Big Bad Critic (s).  It doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll always find one or two of them just waiting to fight you for absolutely no reason. Here’s some guidelines to help you out.

HOW DOES A WRITER HANDLE THE BIG BAD CRITIC?

Good question! It’s not something we learned in writing class, because our teacher was always there to sort of protect (or shield) our creative minds in a way. Ever hear the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?”… er something to that effect.

Let’s face the facts people… WORDS DO HURT!  I’m not going to try to avoid the issue at hand, but we are going to have to let some things slide.  However, please know when to stand up for yourself, especially if this Big Bad Critic starts stalking, harassing, and threatening you in any way.  Actually, I’d probably call the police if I were you…

LIST OF THINGS NOT TO SAY TO THE BIG BAD CRITIC:

  1. DON’T swear, name call, cuss, or curse back –  As a writer, you need to keep your cool. I know… it’s easier said than done, right?
  2. DON’T lose your temper… ever! – If you lose your temper, then The Big Bad Critic has won. Keep calm and just take a few moments to breath.
  3. DON’T write a hateful message back – These flamers want a response from you! They crave the attention! Do not give them that satisfaction.
  4. DON’T try to prove yourself – Please, don’t tell them how many awards you’ve won over the last year (s) or how much of a salary you get from selling those bestselling books. The Big Bad Critic doesn’t care…they pick on anyone no matter their status, their reputation, awards/honors, and so on. You could be Jesus and they’ll still crucify you!
  5. DON’T go posting blogs about them – Like I said before, these flamers are attention addicts. They feed on hate. They feed on anger. They want to make you look bad, even if they’re in the wrong.

LIST OF THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU COME FACE-TO-FACE WITH THE BIG BAD CRITIC:

  1. DO know when to stand up for yourself – If you can calmly face them, without getting angry, then tell them that they are entitled to their opinions, but not their facts.
  2. DO know the difference between constructive criticism vs. just plain rudeness – Some constructive criticism may look bad, but if they point out some flaws and try to offer feedback/suggestions then you can’t be angry at them. If they see some potential mistakes in your writing/story, just thank them for their reviews and try to do better the next time.  The reviews that are truly negative are rude and unnecessary comments directed at the writer themselves or their families, etc.  If it doesn’t help you as the writer, then it’s not helpful whatsoever.
  3. DO know when to walk away – Step away from a possible fight, possibly bickering back and forth with email messages or posts, etc.
  4. DO seek professional help whenever you need to – Sometimes talking to friends and family is all you really need to face The Big Bad Critic. Your friends/family are your rock and your support. Go to them when you need some comforting.
  5. DO keep positive – Even if the critic had said some things that were factual, it doesn’t mean that you should live your life in a spiraling depression. Pick yourself up off the ground and move on with your life.
  6. DO the best you can all the time! – Always work and strive hard to achieve your goals. Nothing ever happens overnight. No one ever reached to the top, without falling down a few times. Give your very best and good things will eventually happen in time.
  7. DO help others and provide them with encouragement – By giving support to other fellow writers, who are struggling like you, they’ll bring you up when they say these two words, “Thank you!”
  8. DO keep up with learning the craft – You may not be the best writer today or tomorrow… or the next few weeks, months, or years. But if you continue to practice and take things one step at a time, sooner or later you will get better. It takes a lot of hard work, time (possibly years), and much skill/experience to write a novel.

Hopefully, this will help a few writers, struggling to handle negative criticism.  I know it’s not much, but I think as writers we need to be like turtles with thick shells over our backs. If you haven’t seen this comic with Snoopy in my post Funny Comics About Writers & Writing, I’ll show it again for some kicks. 😀

Did you see what Snoopy Brown did? He kept on writing, even after she called his writing dumb, and she couldn’t even read it anymore. We writers need to be like that. We need to KEEP ON WRITING NO MATTER WHAT!

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7 thoughts on “The Big Bad Critic: How does a Writer Handle Negative Criticism?

  1. To echo what you’ve already said, negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity. If at all possible, I don’t believe in being negative because even if you are being critical, there is always a polite way to offer that criticism. Thanks for your post, it is very helpful.

    • You’re so right! Negativity just fuels the fire even more, but being positive can really turn the situation around. Thank you for your comments! 😀 Feel free to drop by any time.

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