Something we don’t talk nearly enough about in the writing community is what happens if you end up writing something people don’t like. It’s easy to tell someone to sit down and write a novel and tell the story they’ve always wanted to tell. But what happens when it’s out there in the world and someone responds negatively to it?
It’s not fun. At all. But we can all overcome it, little by little, word by word. Here’s what you might need to hear, or really don’t want to hear, but might let it sink in anyway.
It’s probably going to happen more than once.
Ouch. Weren’t expecting that one, were you? Unfortunately, it’s true. There are going to be those who praise you and those who apparently seek only to tear you down. It’s just the way things work. You know that already. You know you’re supposed to look at it “from a different angle” and figure out what you can learn from the experience.
Yes, that’s important, but … IT STILL SUCKS. A LOT.
Sure, this is all a great opportunity to learn and grow, and that might help you in the long-term, but in the short-term, having something out there that isn’t getting the kinds of reviews or mentions you were hoping for makes giving up sound pretty appealing.
Experiencing this more than once doesn’t make it hurt any less.
You took the time to write something. Something you were really proud of and couldn’t wait to introduce to the world. Maybe it was something as simple as a blog or Facebook post. Maybe it was a poem or a short story or a novel. Whatever it was, you poured your heart and soul into that thing. Negative comments were expected … but you probably didn’t expect them to hurt so much.
It’s okay to feel hurt. Remember that, in most cases, it’s your work being criticized, not you. If it’s your idea or opinion that’s being critiqued in a negative way, remember that not everyone is as sophisticated in the art of forming arguments as you, the writer, might be. Some people get defensive when their ideas and opinions are challenged, and their first instinct is to fire back impulsively.
It’s completely justifiable, your fear. How are you supposed to keep putting your thoughts and ideas and stories out there when they were so harshly received the last time you tried? What’s the point? The last thing you want is to feel the way that made you feel all over again.
But don’t let anything stop you.
Of course this is easier said than done. Rejection hurts, and negative comments hurt, and it’s hard to push through those feelings. It’s hard not to take it personally. Even still, you can’t let it keep bringing you down every time you try getting back up. You have to push through it, even if you can only do it a little bit at a time.
Know that not everything you write is going to please everyone who reads it. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or not worth writing. It just means you’ll have to practice trusting and believing that someone out there needs it. Focus on that one person. If you change one life as a writer, isn’t that still amazing? Doesn’t that cancel out all the negativity? Well, maybe not. But it’s a start.
Have to give due credit to onereasonableperson for inspiring this post. We all face different challenges as writers, and overcoming the aftermath of criticism is a big one. We’ve all had to deal with this at one time or another to different extremes, but each person’s journey is different. Anyone reading this is welcome to share their own stories about dealing with this down in the comments.
We’re all here to help each other. Writing is supposed to be fun and fulfilling. Don’t forget why you started writing in the first place. You CAN start again. It’s still worth it. Keep going.
Image courtesy of balistrericonsulting.com.