How to Get Over Your Fear of Criticism So You Can Be a Better Writer

Some people’s opinions aren’t worth paying attention to.

Are you afraid of people you do and don’t know picking apart every detail of your writing? Does the fear of anyone even commenting on your hard work stop you from even getting any of your work done at all? Here are a few tips to help you get over that.

Don’t worry about what someone else might think until you’ve actually written something

Most writing roadblocks only become problems when they prevent you from writing. Everyone worries about what other people might think about the things they’ve created. But if you’re so worried about someone else’s future opinion that you can’t sit down and write your novel, you’re not in a good place.

Before you can worry about the possibility of receiving feedback you don’t want, you first have to finish writing the thing that other people might criticize — constructively or otherwise. No one can judge a book that hasn’t been written yet — and no, that’s not a good enough excuse to avoid writing.

Remind yourself it’s ‘nothing personal’

There are two types of people that are going to criticize your work: people who have your best interest in mind, and those who do not. Whether the criticism you get is helpful or seemingly harmful, it’s best you learn not to take any of it personally.

Just because a person attacks and/or picks apart your work does not mean they are doing it to hurt you. And if that does seem to be their motive, they aren’t worth paying any attention to. Anyone who criticizes you with the intention of causing you harm does not belong in your head, or in your life.

Separate your work from your worth

Let’s say, hypothetically, you write a bad book. It is undeniably bad — people aren’t just saying that to be mean. Even you’re able to admit that it is quite possibly one of the worst books that has ever been written. All that said, does any of it make you a bad writer — or a bad person?

The same way good people do bad things, all writers, sometimes, write badly. A person that does a bad thing is not necessarily a bad person. A writer who writes a bad thing is not necessarily a bad writer.

Some criticism is better than none. You decide what you can do with — and how you react to — every piece of it you get. Choose, and act, wisely.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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10 thoughts on “How to Get Over Your Fear of Criticism So You Can Be a Better Writer

  1. I’m not afraid of fair criticism, but I hate meanness. I was recently given a horrendous review of my book at Amazon. I only have two reviews so far. The other reader loved the book. The bad reviewer admitted they didn’t read the book; just the preview chapters. Things like this, do affect sales.

    1. If they didn’t read the book, does their opinion really hold any weight?? Ugh. I do get it though – the internet is full of people who could choose not to share their opinions for the sake of being mean, but do so anyway because maybe it makes them feel better about themselves somehow? There’s criticism, and then there’s people just being unnecessarily negative. I don’t like those people either. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read Amazon reviews of my own books. It’s no fun working hard on something and then hearing people say mean things about it that don’t offer anything valuable for a potential reader. It’s one thing to say “just don’t pay attention” but I think to some extent we all do. Maybe people know that, and they go out of their way to be mean. I don’t know, I’m not a mean person, so I can’t speak on their behalf. :P

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