Dealing with Negative Reviews: Grow a pair and keep writing!

on Apr 21, 2012
I was recently asked a question in an interview, "How do you respond to negative reviews?'

My reply? "I kiss the reviewer on the mouth!"

I think there's a problem with a lot of artists and writers out there. I call this problem "heartonsleeveophrenia." It's a very serious mental condition. As writers, we like to think of our work as an extension of ourselves, and when we get a negative review, our first knee-jerk response is to be hurt about it. We take it, perhaps, a little too personally. And then we sit and fret and wonder about whether or not our writing is any good, if we'll ever be successful, if we'll ever become famous, etc. etc. etc. Never mind the 20 positive reviews we've had, the encouragement from friends and family, or our supportive high school teachers. We focus on that 1 reviewer -- that snide, skanky, insensitive person -- who didn't like our story!

After 4 years in a Creative Writing program, I feel that I have the right to share a secret with you. A secret that you really, really, really need to know:

Most readers (and other writers) have horrible taste.

And most people just like to hear themselves talk.

And if you're a little insecure as a writer, you can get caught up in a head trip of self doubt and obsession over one little negative review.

My pep talk? Grow some balls and keep writing! And stop wearing your heart on your sleeve. Writing is 25% passion and 75% hard-won, nose-to-the-grindstone SKILL. Writing is a skill. A craft. Like building a house or learning to paint. Try not to see your writing as an extension of yourself. Instead, see each story as its own, independent project, removed from the writer, like a rock that stands alone in a garden. Your love of writing and its therapeutic benefits should take a backseat to the craft you are trying to perfect. If you write a bad short story that nobody likes, just think of it as practice and move along. It ultimately means nothing.

And if it makes you feel better, you can kiss that bad reviewer on the mouth, just to let them know that you don't care.


NatasaLikes said...

"heartonsleeveophrenia" LMAO I burst out laughing when I read that xD But you got down to the heart of the matter. Some writers do wear their heart on their sleeves and that's not a bad thing except in the unprofessional way they respond to negative reviews.

This is a great blog post and more writers should definitely see this. Thank you for sharing!

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