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