(Oh,) what to do about criticism?
(Tips on dealing with criticism, feedback, and critiques)
1.)Don’t take it personally.
First off, remember the critiques aren’t towards you but towards your work or draft. Though this may seem obvious, it’s quite easy to forget this and take all the comments made towards your work to heart.
The purpose of criticism isn’t to demean you or your abilities but to help you grow as a writer, without critiques how would you know where your weak areas are, or how would you figure out what could use a bit of tweaking or improvement in your work? Sometimes you need a fresh perspective to be able to see issues in your work that aren’t visible to you.
With that being said, if someone does insult you, your writing, or fail to provide helpful information, it’s safe to assume they’re not critiquing and you have the right to block them or severe ties with them. You shouldn’t heed the words of someone being toxic.
There are indeed people out there who genuinely want to help you and see your work improve, so much so that they take the time out of their day to give you helpful feedback and fair critiques. I feel this is an important tidbit to keep in mind while you review their criticism. The goal isn’t to break down, but build you up and make your work better.
2.)Don’t “correct” critics, or act rude or condescending.
Don’t “correct,” or interrupt, or accuse critics of “reading the story wrong,” here are examples of what I mean:
Examples of “corrections” :
- Critic: “I don’t understand why she has fire powers, aren’t her parents non-elementals?”
Writer: “No, see the reason why she has fire powers is because her grandmother was a secret fire wielder, see I hinted at it on page 27.”
- Critic: “Why does Zack want to save them? Didn’t he just say on page 37 he hates them?”
Writer: “Yeah, but he’s a good guy deep down, see if you were paying attention to the last fight scene he admitted…”
- Critic: “Why do the heroes wait till night time to fight the shadow-lings? Why didn’t they ambush them in daylight?”
Writer: “Because the shadow-lings only come out at night, hence the name “shadow-lings,” duh!”
Look, if something isn’t coming across or making sense to your readers, you may need to think about why it isn’t coming across.
I say this because there’s always a chance some story elements aren’t as obvious to the reader as they seem, or there may conflicting parts of your plot that aren’t you haven’t realized. Hence why it’s important to have different perspectives on your work.
Now, if it’s just one reader pointing out an issue perhaps they missed something, but if multiple readers pointing out something, it’s a red flag that something is most likely wrong.
Also, please be kind to your critics, they’re human beings with emotions and personal thoughts, not faceless comment machines. A mean, aggressive, or snobbish attitude towards anyone critiquing you could turn them off from giving you essential feedback or make them dishonest with their thoughts and feelings to get on your good side.
The purpose of critiques isn’t to butter you up with compliments or praise you for your writing, it’s to make sure your own the right track and strengthen your writing which will, in turn, grow your audience and help you learn things before you release your next project.
3.)Read /Listen to feedback carefully.
Don’t rush through the feedback or skim over lines to speed up the process, if you do this you’re risking misinterpreting things or missing out on important points.
4.)Ask for clarification.
If there’s a part of the feedback you don’t understand ask. If you aren’t able to ask, brainstorm or ask for input from someone else for interpretations of feedback.
5.)Don’t immediately start major edits to your work right after.
Take some time to figure out what changes you want to implement into your project based on the critiques. This will not only give you a better sense of what to tweak or look out for in your writing, but it’ll stop you from making unnecessary, spur of the moment edits that won’t reflect that you’ve gone over your critiques carefully.
Is there a particular element that’s constantly mentioned in your critiques?
If so, take note of it because if multiple people are picking up on a certain thing there’s a good chance that element either works really well or really poorly depending on whether the feedback of the element is positive or negative.
7.)Be prepared to make large edits
Sometimes you may have to do a larger overhaul of your story, though this isn’t always the case, it’s good to keep that in mind this may be a future possibility. If you want to look more into this I’d recommend checking my post on “killing darlings” linked here, if you get the time.
8.)Trust your gut.
If there’s a critique you feel is unfair, won’t be helpful, or would hinder your story I recommend musing over it or seeking input on it before implementing changes based off it. Not all critiques you get will be helpful, and it’s up to you as a writer to determine whether or not it’ll help your story.
Getting critiques or negative feedback can be tough and very discouraging, but it’s all part of the writing process and it’ll get you closer to getting to that final golden draft.
If you’re feeling burned out or you find the feedback is starting to get to you, take a break from reviewing it, recharge, then come back to it refreshed.
Have a wonderful rest of your day!
Until next time! 🙂