TAKING CRITICISM - Terrible Writing Advice
We must be ready for war. No not that kind of war! This is something far more serious than people dying, even more important than real life economic turmoil and geopolitical conflict! This is the greatest external threat a writer will ever face; People on the internet saying mean things about one’s work! Now some may find it surprising to discover that there are actually people on the internet who tend to be a bit mean-spirited! I was as surprised as anyone. This is especially astonishing given that there were no mean people before the internet!
Regardless, this brings up something every writer will have to face, how to handle criticism. Some believe that criticism is an innately bad thing. This is completely true! Those who criticize you are your enemies! Yet some writers spread misinformation about how to handle to criticism and critique. They would tell you to: Shut up. Listen. Take notes. Only interrupt to ask for clarification. Then, after some time has passed, pick through the feedback and only implement suggestions after careful consideration. However, the main problem with this is the presumed arrogance of those who would dare tell you how to improve your work! Writer’s groups and beta readers are there for only one reason, to tell you how great and awesome your writing is! They are there only to heap praise upon all they read, and not give critical and insightful feedback to help a writer hone their craft. This means that when faced with criticism and critique, the writer has only two real options. The first is to cower and try to implement all suggestions in an effort to satisfy everyone! I am sure that working long enough on a project will insure that every last person who reads it will like it! That’s totally within the realm of possibility. The other even better option is to fight! Did members of your writer’s group take their valuable time to read your work with a critical eye?
Well how dare they look at your work with their subjective, and obviously wrong, opinion. Be sure to interrupt any negative critique or comment with a long winded explanation of what your true intentions were and lump the blame for their misinterpretation solely at their feet. They are ones who are reading it wrong! Nothing needs to be changed. Who needs them anyway? What do other writer’s know? Instead, let’s find some beta readers! Writer’s can’t help and why bother with people who are trying to master identical skills when we can get feedback directly from readers! What’s that? How dare they tell me that my work is less than perfect! What do they know? They are just readers. Well I’ll show them! It may only be a first draft, but I’m a 100% certain this is ready for publication right now! Let’s unleash our work onto the web! Don’t worry. I am sure everyone on the internet will have nothing but kind words for your creative work. What? Some jerk left a mere two star review. How dare they raise valid concerns in their critical review. This is obviously a personal attack and vicious slander that will damage my ego… I mean damage my creative work! Better respond to that. In fact, respond to all negative criticism using all of the classic tactics of internet arguing; sock puppets, shifting the goalpost, stealth editing, CAPSLOCK, memes, hiding behind religious or political beliefs, and the ever present accusation of jealousy. This constant battle in the comments sections is difficult, but a writer must endure.
We all know that in internet arguing, the last comment wins and it is a well understood fact that Internet trolls can only be defeated by constantly engaging with them. This is a battle of endurance! However, a writer must also be proactive in curtailing negative reviews. Be sure to make a blog post letting everyone know that they should personally contact you before releasing a negative review so you can correct them and clear up any misconceptions. A writer’s task is to make sure everyone interprets their work correctly, not waste time writing. Even argue with reviewers on Goodreads. That will end well. Wait. What am I doing? Such an overwhelming negative reaction to my work must be there for a reason. Maybe, just maybe I should separate my creative work from my own ego and take time to critically review my writing. Maybe I should actually listen to the feedback I am getting and use it to hone my craft so I can reach my true potential. Perhaps some of these people giving me feedback are actually trying to help. Or I can just double down on the arguing.
This lack of introspection is essential if we want to win against the haters and jealous reviewers who just don’t recognize my genius! We need to pull out all the stops! Write even more blog posts while arguing on other people's blogs who bash one’s work. Create a Youtube channel to document this descent in to madness, err I mean ascent to greatness! Continue to ignore even those who are trying to help. No need to wonder if things have gone too far even as crowds are lining up to watch the drama unfold. Rest assured this new audience is there to read your work and not to watch a writer’s slow self destruction at the hands of their own ego and thin skinned nature. Continue to generate drama even as other people begin to create entire wikis to document these antics. Just ignore the legions of people who are meticulously cataloging all of one’s increasingly unhinged outbursts and delude oneself that the growing audience of trolls are really fans. Internet fame may be exhausting, but an author most remain ever vigilant in their endless quest to police other people’s opinions.