I think we can all agree that being in a creative field is hard. Not only are you creating something personal, but you are also exploring the beautiful intricacies of your mind. If you are brave enough, you then share it.
We offer our art to the world hoping it helps someone, or maybe it is helping us to connect and express ourselves in a way we know how. Whatever the reason for sharing your work may be, once it is out and being consumed by the masses, you have now opened yourself up to a response.
People will always respond, some with support and excitement, while others take the opportunity to criticize the thing you have created. As a self-proclaimed amateur and new creative community member, I am learning how to grow with criticism.
Becoming defensive when someone does not agree with you or does not like your work is a perfectly understandable response. Creating anything new takes time, resources, and a lot of care from the creator. Writers, artists, performers, it doesn't matter, creation is personal to all of us, and why wouldn't we want people to like it?
Unfortunately, you will not make everyone happy forever, and at some point, someone will come along and share an opinion you do not like. Instead of getting defensive, maybe there is a more productive response. One that will help us grow as individuals and creatives.
From my own research, I have summarized three tips that I believe could help anyone who struggles with receiving negative criticism.
1. Be the biggest critic of your work.
After the long process of writing and editing, it is easy to assume that no further work is needed, don't fall into this. Review your writing, critique the choices you made, be harsh in your judgement. I am not saying this will be easy, but it will help you to understand your writing style, strengths and weaknesses. You will have a better understanding of the skills you need to work on. And if a negative review does come along, maybe it won't be a big surprise and you will already be working toward bettering your craft.
2. Listen and pay attention to all reviews.
Every time you write something, get a review, or edit your work, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Listen to the readers, authors, or fellow writers; all have different reasons for reading your work, but each has a valuable opinion.
Some things you will not be able to change. If you publish a book and receive criticism upon launching, it is unlikely you will launch a second edition any time soon. But you will write again, you can't help it as a writer, right?
All future works can be made while keeping people's opinions in mind. How much you want to shift your work around your target audiences' criticism is completely up to you. You know who you are writing for better than anyone. But use the fair criticism to become the best writer you can be.
3. Take it personally.
Now I understand this may not be the advice you were expecting but it is important. When you receive criticism, I don't want you to take it personally and let it affect you in a negative way, this is not permission for that. Take it personally as in make it a challenge for yourself. Use the feedback you get and let it motivate you to win the person with that opinion over with your next work. "Well if you don't like this work, read this, it's even better!" While it might be a different approach to writing, it is motivation to write bigger and better every time.
If you happen to be the one giving criticism, I would advise you keep a few things in mind so you know you are helping the creator instead of hindering them. Make sure you tell them what you like about their work first, then offer the adjustments or editing you would make, after you have been clear about what you like and think should change, ask any clarifying questions you might have about the piece. That way you are covering your bases and offering clear feedback meant to be motivational and encouraging in nature.
If you truly want to succeed with any goal in life, you must be ready to learn and grow through the hardships. There will always be bumps and bruises along the way, but realize they won't be there forever and they are just growing pains in the journey to becoming the best self you can be.
Stay tuned for more articles, announcements, and events regarding Courage Publishing by subscribing to our email! You can also schedule a free consultation for book coaching with our award-winning author and CEO, Lexi Mohney.
We are always looking to work with published and aspiring authors. If you're interested in learning more about Courage Publishing, send us an email!
Breanna Bartels is a creative exploring all her new interests in life. She is an avid book lover and a photographer and videographer with her own company, Candid Mirth. In the spaces between art and work, she is venturing into writing. She prefers a used book to a new one and has fanatical plans to own a used bookstore one day. When she isn't home attempting some new venture, she enjoys camping and hiking with her husband, Danny, and their two dogs. Reach out to her for creative opportunities or to discuss a good book! You can find her many projects here.