Dealing with objective criticism
I Write the Songs
Most people hate criticism
Objective criticism is a topic with which I am very familiar. As a pastor, counselor, newspaper editor and writer/reporter for a newspaper, I get criticized all of the time.
But the reality is, it comes with the job.
Most people hate to be criticized and those of us who often have to be critical, are not that delighted to be critical of others.
Genuine objective criticism is generally an attempt to help and not hinder.
Unfortunately for far too many people, they see anything said or written to or about them as a direct attack on their person and personality. These people interpret the objective criticism as offensive and go on the defense and even begin an attack on the person or persons who were actually trying to help.
Writers have a tendency to be very defensive about objective criticism. Psychology indicates the very nature of our artistic ability often gives us a sense of extreme enlightenment.
It is this enlightenment which gives the writer the feeling sometimes, that they can do no wrong and handle anything.
History dictates the exact opposite.
Zelda Fitzgerald, Virginia Wolf, Sylvia Plath, Hunter S. Thompson, Susanna Kaysen and of course Ernest Hemingway either went insane having to be institutionalized or committed suicide.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey and Edgar Allen Poe all used opium. Charles Baudelaire used hashish, Aldous Huxley used mescaline, Jack Kerouac used Benzedrine, William Burroughs used heroin, Philip K Dick used speed and Hunter S. Thompson used everything.
Two of the most famous writers, Robert Louis Stevenson and Stephen King used cocaine.
The question arises as to why all of this happens to such talented and relatively successful people? The reason is not any single answer but rather many which are all linked back to their artistic ability and a sense of extreme enlightenment.
The rational conclusion to this problem is somewhat simple: writers value their work and don’t want anyone treading on it. When the work is criticized and the criticism is negative it often sends the writer into depression and withdrawal from reality.
There is actually a great paradox here; writers want reviews, objective criticism and comments, yet they know these criticisms can make or break them.
I have many followers, fans, etc. over the various venues I write and work in and I value their criticism.
Do you handle criticism well?
Seek Professional Help
Objective criticism is instructive, useful, builds character and ultimately makes one a better writer.
As a counselor however, I do know there are writers who let some of the more negative criticism bother them, simmer in their soul and ultimately send them into a state of depression or even more serious psychological condition.
If any writer begins to sense themselves moving into a negative emotional state, they should “take a break”, back off and even seek out professional psychological counseling.
None of us is beyond needing a little help once in a while. With an increasing number of writers on the web these days and every person a commenter wearing their opinions on their proverbial sleeve, we would all do well to heed this advice.
I might add, as a pastor and psychologist/counselor, I have never hesitated to seek out professional help when I knew I was getting in over my head. Just try counseling people all day long for decades and see if you don’t need some counseling as well.
My fellow writers please don’t hesitate to get counseling.
©Copyright 2012 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III
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