Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Negative Criticism

How Writers Handle Criticism


The roots of “criticism” are “able to make judgments” and “to separate, decide”. 

Authors Response to Criticism

Image courtesy of Trish Parisy ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/tpacific

Many folks feel it means something more like “to lash severely with a whip”

Of course, there are critics who carry whips in their judging minds and love to use them.

So, should “good” criticism be easy to take?

Naturally, it all depends on the writer’s attitude

Two past posts on this blog covered various aspects of criticism:

How A Story’s Integrity Can Save It From Certain Criticisms

Facing Negative Criticism ~ Is Thinking Like An Artist The Same As Thinking Like A Normal Human?

A couple months ago, FlavorWire had an article most any writer could find valuable—11 Writers on How They Deal With Criticism—from which I’ll share a few excerpts [one from each of the eleven] (though, if you have problems with criticism, do go read the whole thing):

“I try really hard to consider the source before I let myself feel insulted or get defensive, but if it seems like a legitimate critique, I try to take it in and be informed by it. That’s often easier said than done, of course.”

– Sari Botton

“I’m the obsessive type. I’ll read every single review, every single email, every single rejection, every single damn Goodreads/Amazon review. I’ll read between the lines, looking for something that’s probably not there. I’ll take it personal.”

– Michael Seidlinger

“I remember being desperate for tough criticism of my work.  I felt like if no one had any real criticism, that meant it was such a mess that they weren’t engaged enough to say anything.”

– Jacinda Townsend

“I don’t know that I do bounce back from negative criticism. I absorb it and move on.”

– Cari Luna

“In large part, I deal with negative criticism (and positive criticism, which isn’t all that helpful either) by ignoring it.”

– Matthew Specktor

“For me it’s important to acknowledge the inevitability of negative criticism. If I continue to write and to publish, it is going to happen.”

– Laura van den Berg

“First of all, you have no choice but to bounce back. What else can you do? You are in an audience-based industry. To think everyone will love you or your work or try to go for that is a really delusional empty enterprise.”

– Porochista Khakpour

“…often times a critic’s gripes are actually the things you like about your writing.”

– Kevin Sampsell

“Tell myself that it’s just one opinion and might be right but also might be wrong or somewhere in between.”

– Caryn Rose

“If you don’t have something new to work on, criticism of older things just spirals blackly.”

– Gideon Lewis Kraus

“Remembering that I exist in a big world in which the majority of people do not read negative criticisms of me, and might not even know what I do for a living, is freeing.”

– Jen Doll

So, one criticism of those excerpts that I can give myself is that they are epigrammatic and don’t necessarily convey the full attitude of each writer

You might want to read the whole thing and come back here and leave your own criticisms in the comments :-)

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From The “I Can’t Believe It” Department . . .


Criticism is critical for writers—provided by beta-readers, editors, and readers.

Well-balanced writers appreciate the good comments but crave the criticism that points toward possible improvements.

Writers who can’t handle negative criticism should rebuild their expectations or, possibly, self-edit and never read reviews

But to sink so low as to bully one’s negative critics??

Ray Garton has a piece on the Huffington Post called Stop the GR Bullies: Get Over Yourselves.

GR stands for GoodReads.

Ray begins by saying, “When I taught creative writing, I discovered the majority of the people who took the class were interested in only one thing — being told they were brilliant. They bristled whenever I pointed out problems in their work because there were no problems with their work. It was perfect. And who was I to say otherwise? They were not writers then, and with that attitude, it’s unlikely that they are now.”

Then comes an “I-can’t-believe-it” revelation:

Stop the GR Bullies is made up of people who think the bad book reviews they get on the website Goodreads are some form of persecution. They have done something no writer should ever do — they have responded to those bad reviews. But their method of responding is rather frightening.”

Then, the most damning description of the group:

“They investigate the authors of reviews they don’t like, then post personal information about them online, including where they live, where they work, where their children go to school and where they like to eat out. The result is that some of these reviewers have been harassed and threatened.”

Mr. Garton goes on to describe some of his early reactions to critics in his otherwise successful career.

He also gives a good bit of advice on the right attitude to have towards negative criticism.

Any aspiring writer would do well to read the whole article—perhaps a few writers well down the road, too :-)

He also has three pieces of advice for the GoodReads Bullies:

“First, shut down that irresponsible, indefensible and disgusting website — which reveals far more about you than about you’re unfortunate targets (and none of it is good) — before someone gets hurt or killed.

“Second, if you don’t like what you see on Goodreads, don’t go there. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head.

“Third, and most important, stop writing because you obviously can’t handle it.”

How would you handle the situation if you discovered a writer who spread personal contact information about you because they didn’t like what you said in a review?

Do you think there are legal restraints that can be applied against folks like this?

On the Stop the GR Bullies site they say they only publish information about negative ctitics that’s already publicly available.

Do you think the Stop the GR Bullies are bullies themselves?

Is ignoring them and hoping they go away the best course of action?
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