Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Handling Criticism: A Tumblr Conversation

I have spent the last ten minutes at work beneath my desk; it is somewhere dark to collect my thoughts. I have been struggling to read through the edits and feedback scribbled on an annual report I drafted. Usually I handle feedback well and expect it, but every so often a voice rages at the back of my head. I question my ability as a writer. My question for you is this: how do you handle feeling discouraged? 
neil-gaiman answered:
Initially I usually handle it by announcing gloomily that I can no longer write, have never been any good at it, and anything I’ve managed to do so far in the writing business was probably just sheer blind luck anyway.
Then I mope a bit. I drink a lot of tea.  Check with Amanda and find out if she’d still love me if I never wrote anything again (she always says yes). Call my agent to apologise because, obviously, she will have to spend the rest of my life and hers getting me out of any existing writing contracts.
And then, after a few days of that, I get interested in something and start writing and get happy, and am usually vaguely surprised when someone mentions how miserable I was a few weeks before.

This is still true. And worth reblogging because people still ask…

I do not handle criticism of my writing well at all. I can receive ten, even twenty positive comments, then get one negative one, and I cease to understand statistics and go into a downward spiral for a week or two.
We aren’t the only ones. Stephen King once said that he had to stop reading reviews of his books because the negative ones would put him in a three-week funk, and his wife semi-jokingly told him that he either had to stop reading the reviews or she’d divorce him.
Recently I received a criticism of a chapter I wrote for my main WIP and it put me into a tail spin. On the scale of things, the criticism was pretty mild, but it really got under my skin. The person making the criticism said that my characters were just a couple of talking heads. I felt their conversation served to illustrate the dynamic between them, and I was proud of it.
I have been struggling financially and feeling pretty insecure about myself due to losing the ability to work in my previous profession because of my health issues, so I think I’m even more fragile than usual. Going into my fictional Universe is kind of an escape from the mess that is my life, and I saw this person’s criticism as an attack. Not that I didn’t have reason to be miffed, but I definitely overreacted.
TL;DR You’re not alone in this.
Note: Netherworld Writer's Guild is my Tumblr for all things Writing.

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