How to handle negative criticism about your writing: Tips for bloggers, publishers and online writers

While bad feedback itself is a big blow to a writer's morale, negative criticism can often spell doom for the hopes of an aspiring writer. Read on and find out what you can do to deal with negative criticism for your writing work.
While bad feedback itself is a big blow to a writer's morale, negative criticism can often spell doom for the hopes of an aspiring writer. Read on and find out what you can do to deal with negative criticism for your writing work. | Source

Negative criticism, whether it is in the form of bad comments or negative feedback on your website, blog or any other post, is easy to give. Readers can easily post their rants in a comment box and click a button. That's all it takes to insult a writer's talent and hard work that has gone in to creating a post. As an online writer, if you have been subject to such feedback, you can either sulk and feel unworthy of writing ever again, or learn how to deal with negative criticism. Chances are that you have picked the latter. Read on.

Don't ever have a knee jerk reaction to a bad comment on your post

Without exception, all online writers have faced the wrath of readers who consider themselves as experts in certain subjects. The first thing that you need to remember is that everyone is entitled to an opinion and the last thing you should do is have a knee jerk reaction to negative criticism. Every individual, celebrity, group, company, business and government is subject to foul mouthed rants and negative feedback daily. Do you see them shutting shop and burying their faces in the ground? Definitely not. As an online writer, you too should refrain from making any rash decisions or indulging in mindless rebuttals yourself.

  • Don't hit the reply button and start arguing or defending your stand via post or blog comments
  • Don't unpublish the post just because someone told you to do so
  • Don't stop writing just because someone told you that you are not 'writer material'

Don't try to dissect or over-analyze negative criticism in the heat of the moment. Move on to other writing work and stop wasting time pondering about whether you are writer material or not.
Don't try to dissect or over-analyze negative criticism in the heat of the moment. Move on to other writing work and stop wasting time pondering about whether you are writer material or not. | Source

Don't spend time over-analyzing negative criticism in the heat of the moment

It is understandable if you as a writer are fretting and pacing up and down the hallway thinking about how you are going to deal with negative criticism on your website. It would only be natural do so. The trick, however is to immediately move on and focus on the writing work at hand. Yes, as important as it is to analyze the criticism that you have received, it is also important to give it a thought and let your mind accept and understand the feedback.

When you see a negative comment on your writing, step back, close the window on your computer screen, splash some water on your face, go grab a coffee and start afresh. Keep working on whatever was keeping you busy until you saw the nasty comments.

Don't get into nasty arguments with your reader

Have you heard the saying "Customer is always right"? Well sorry to give you a big wake up call, however in your case, the reader is in fact, the customer. Your reader will forward your post to list of friends if he/she likes the way you write. His/her friends may subsequently forward it to many others and so on. The point is, never insult or humiliate your reader because that's just wrong practice. Take a stand for what you believe in but if your reader still refuses to agree with you, you must understand and accept that we all have the right to our own opinions. Tell your readers how they are entitled to their views and you are, to yours. Cordially end a stand-off and your readers will come back for more. Just like a director won't argue with every movie critic who has slammed his latest movie, you shouldn't get into online or verbal spats with someone who thinks that your writing is not the best.

Take your mind away from criticism by going shopping with your partner. It's called retail therapy for a reason!
Take your mind away from criticism by going shopping with your partner. It's called retail therapy for a reason! | Source

Take some time off from writing

Negative criticism can result in a lot of stress and can even bring upon the dreaded writer's block. So before you even attempt to mend broken bridges in your writing work, take your mind away by catching up on a movie, reading a book, going out with friends, going shopping or even having a drink or two with nice company. The key is to take your mind away from the rut of writing over and over again, and come back with a fresh pair of eyes to attack the criticism and deal with it in a sane state of mind.

Take a second opinion

It is always good to have a second opinion from a fellow writer or blogger and run your thoughts through them. For all you know, your friends may dismiss the criticism as just one-off thoughts of a lunatic. But make sure you ask someone who will give you honest advice rather than perennial nonsensical appreciation for your writing work.

Arm yourself with a notepad and jot down the things that you think may be drawing flak from your readers. Like everything else in life, be a methodist and base your reasoning on logic rather than emotions.
Arm yourself with a notepad and jot down the things that you think may be drawing flak from your readers. Like everything else in life, be a methodist and base your reasoning on logic rather than emotions. | Source

Revisit your website or blog and rip apart the negative criticism

Once you have finished the work at hand, you should now revisit the post or the page which led to negative criticism of your writing work. Before you react or try to fix something, you need to go to the root of the problem. For all you know, there may be nothing wrong with your writing and it may be just the whims and fancies of the reader that have led to the bad feedback. Step into the reader's shoes and ask yourself "What is the cause of the negative criticism" List down the things that you believe are drawing negative feedback. Once you have a list of specific things that you think are worth looking into, attack them one by one. Some of the basic things that may be drawing flak from critics:

  • Misstatement of facts: Are you misstating facts and figures? Are you quoting someone wrongly without doing enough research? Are you talking about a subject that you lack knowledge off? It's is to look beyond the obvious and make the silly mistake of writing wrong information and false facts.
  • Platform and Target audience: Think about the platform that you are writing on and think about your target audience. Are your opinions offending someone? Are your views too sensitive to be published on the platform that you currently write on?
  • Writing Style: Do you write poems? Well than you really shouldn't care about how someone thinks about your writing style because poems and creative writing in general is highly subjective. What may seem like gold to one reader may seem like a flat piece of stone to another. On the other hand, you may want to remember that creative writing is not the best suited style if you are writing a more formal or an instructive post like the one you are reading. The big question is, "Are you going wrong with your writing styles?"

Negative criticism rips through a writer's heart like a dagger and understandably so. Are you going to succumb to your wounds? Or are you and your mighty pen going to show the critics who is stronger?
Negative criticism rips through a writer's heart like a dagger and understandably so. Are you going to succumb to your wounds? Or are you and your mighty pen going to show the critics who is stronger? | Source

Always remember and focus on your penultimate writing goals

Last but not the least, you must also remember the purpose of your writing. Are you writing online just to make money? Well then you shouldn't really be concerned about what a poet thinks about the use of creative lingo in your post. Are you writing to attract a niche audience who can appreciate your literary abilities and writing talent? Then you should really not be concerned about how an online entrepreneur thinks about your post, SEO coverage and some such.

The bottom line is that we all have different purposes when we write. For some writers, writing is bread and butter while for some, it is a mere hobby. Always keep in mind the penultimate purpose and your writing goals before you respond to, make changes or try to adapt your writing according to negative feedback or criticism that you have received.

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Comments 14 comments

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

Somehow, I haven't really received negative comments but I think I won't be in the minority for long. I like how you say not to have a knee jerk reaction but to rip through the criticism to improve your writing. But this goes for any criticism, you have to move past it or else let it continue to affect you. Great hub and advice!


dilipchandra12 profile image

dilipchandra12 4 years ago from India

Very good hub. well written with a great advice.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California

Constructive criticism can be a useful tool when taken in the right light, it not only helps us to see previously missed faults, but helps us to grow as writers, even a politely stated differing opinion can be seen as useful, but sometimes the hardest part of the online publishing world is the equivalent of the stand-up comic's heckler, and although it is tempting to get into a tit for tat with them, it really is a waste of time. Great hub with helpful tips and advice. Voted up, and useful. Thanks for sharing.


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

This hub sucks. I couldn't stay awake to read it. If you are a writer, then I am Godzilla's ugly brother. I would call you a hack, but I don't want to offend the hacks.

Hey, everyone has the right to their opinion. In my opinion, this is a great hub and these are great points for everyone to keep in mind. Voted up!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

I have found that most people who write negative comments are simply stating their opinion in a harsh way. Things just seem harsher on the computer screen than when it is said in person. Most of the negative criticism I have received does have a grain of truth in it, so it is a matter of correcting or explaining that truth, and leave the setting behind.

I do hope that your writing this hub doesn't mean that you received any really negative feedback, and if you did, you have portrayed great attitude in dealing with it in this way.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

I find that negative comments DO help - I always seem to get more views after the fact. It's hard to take, though. I completely agree with everything in this hub! Nice job. It's always prudent to uphold the professionalism - you never know who's watching! :)


Digitskyes profile image

Digitskyes 4 years ago from Highlands, Scotland

I'm usually stubborn enough to just use anything negative to help me improve :)

But this is all great advice and well worth keeping in mind.


Kimberly Turner profile image

Kimberly Turner 4 years ago from New Jersey

I loved your article! When faced with criticism or negativity sometimes it is hard to keep positive. I agree that a writer should take a step back and see what the cause of the comment is and always remember what their goal is in writing. Either way, criticism can often be a tool to become a better writer and wouldn't you rather have someone tell you what they think (no matter how false or true what they say is), to learn why your readers do or don't like what you wrote. Even if what they say is blowing off steam from them or from a bad experience that person had, it gives the writer a better view of where their audience is coming from.

Voted up and shared!


cherylone profile image

cherylone 4 years ago from Connecticut

I always try to accept the good with the bad. I mean, as you say, everyone has a right to their opinion and I might have missed something. I go back, look it over, and accept what I must. Great hub. :)


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

Excellent suggestion to avoid knee jerk responses. Voted up!


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I've had to deal with negative feedback. If it is done constructively I do indeed see it as a way to improve my writing. Not everyone sees that, and I find that some people are quite hostile when you make even the slightest suggestion privately -not in the comments section -even while saying you are trying to help the person improve. It makes one hyper-sensitive as a reader in wondering whether to even bother commenting at all. And I've found all sorts of negative feedback about my comments-which is also writing and expressing myself in the written word. So I do indeed leave less comments. I find the time I save in not reading people who cannot handle criticism I use to get more work done elsewhere.


Tonipet profile image

Tonipet 4 years ago from The City of Generals

Hi Princess,

Very nice topic. I take a negative feedback as part of success as it can be a step to learning, more particularly on how to handle it. Though it's quite hard to maintain a positive understanding, I believe a negative feedback in general is a "spicy challenge" of sort that we cannot please everyone, and that what works for some may not be of sense to others.

So I'd rather compose myself with how to deal with what is sensible for most. Thanks for this very useful article, liked all the details and I'm sharing. Nice photo too:-)

-Tonipet


raciniwa profile image

raciniwa 4 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

this is a great informative hub...what more can i say, but thanks for helping others see the way and i do too learn a great deal from this...


SANJAY 3 years ago

PLEASE GUIDE THROUGH IWRITER. I WISH TO KNOW MORE

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