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How To Take Criticism About Your Writing Objectively

Updated on July 15, 2012
Criticism. | Source

The Work

You just finished your written piece, whether typed by your agile fingers or produced in handwritten font.

The work took you hours, days, or perhaps even months to produce. The piece may have been typed on a laptop or by a series of emails on your smartphone that you later pasted together.

You are proud of the final written document and you release it to the Internet, to a publishing company, or perhaps to your English teacher.

The targeted audience reads your work and offers feedback, whether of the written or vocal variety.

There is criticism.

You take a deep breath.

You had a particular message to convey.
You had a particular message to convey. | Source

Why Objectivity Is Important

Being objective to criticism is vital to learning from the views of readers.

Whether the goal of your writing is to teach information or arouse certain emotions within readers, you had a particular message to convey to your audience.

After all, you chose to share your work with at least one other person in order for there to be the presence of criticism.

Being objective allows you to learn how to improve your own writing skills. If, for instance, the criticism is that the paragraphs run too long, then the reader is ultimately advising you to fix your article presentation. Likely other readers feel the same way but are too polite to share the same feedback.

They do not want to hurt your feelings.

It is not you personally being criticized.
It is not you personally being criticized. | Source

Understand What Is Being Criticized

Take criticism about your writing objectively by understanding that the audience is providing feedback about your work rather than about you personally. While you may have spent hours pouring over your essay, the reader is speaking about the product rather than about the process or about you as a person.

The criticism concerns the writing itself. That statement holds true whether the critique relates to subject matter, grammar, or other related topic.

Do not put words into the mouth of the criticiser.

If, for instance, a person says that you did not clearly explain why Twitter has grown in popularity, do not take that to mean that you are not smart and are not able to write. The section may only be a small portion of the total work. Regardless, the work, rather than you the writer, is being criticized.

We all have off days and we may recognize that our work could use improvement. Listen objectively to the criticism in order to better the quality of the particular written piece.

Your work has not been for nothing. Do not take an all or nothing approach. Criticism is not another way to say your work is "dull". Do not over exaggerate what is being said.

Be flattered that your reader thinks highly enough about you to tell you his or her honest opinion.

You may see additional improvements.
You may see additional improvements. | Source

Take Time

Another way to encourage you to embrace the criticism objectively is to take time away from the work following the feedback.

Taking a break from the written piece will return you to the piece with a clear mind and perhaps even a fresh perspective.

You may return to the piece and see the improvements suggested by the reader more clearly. You may even see additional changes to be made.

Objectivity is created distancing yourself from the piece for a period of hours or even days.

The Positive Side

Look at the criticism as a positive point.

When you write your next article or essay you will remember the criticism and be mindful to avoid similar mistakes. By actively listening to the advice, you have learned aspects about the art of writing.

You are learning what concepts to avoid in your work and what styles do not fit well with certain audiences. Respond objectively to the criticism in order to improve both your writing style and details of the particular piece being read.

Do You...

Do You Respond Objectively To Criticism Of Your Written Work?

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    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Good point about criticism being easier to handle in writing rather than vocally Audra. You are a smartie! :)

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 5 years ago

      Constructive criticism is not my strong point. I def. handle it better in writing than vocally. Taking time to communicate when receiving cc is also easier in print for me. Thanks for writing a very interesting piece :)

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi Alur! Nice to meet you. I suppose criticism in terms of grammar is easier to take than a created character as that is more personal. Glad you enjoy the hub!

    • ALUR profile image

      ALUR 5 years ago from USA

      Well written, worthy advice. I often find myself open to much criticism so long as it is relevant to the material/grammar/and anything to deal with plotline. I don't really mind if people call it "disturbing, moving, or too deep": I esp like it when they say they don't like a character meant to be disliked. Then I know I've done well.

      I've got two books finally on that I am proud of but always open to feedback.

      You're welcome to read/rate my hubs as well:)

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Stillwaters, I do understand the difficulties. It takes time for articles to crawl up the Google pages as they index. Some days are good and others... I hope your struggles soon are outweighed by good days.

      @RTalloni, You are right that sometimes we need to take a step back from the criticism before we react. Your comment is right on target as well! Thanks for taking time here to read.

    • stillwaters707 profile image

      stillwaters707 5 years ago from Texas

      Google Adsense is one that I have to do research to understand their criticism. Some say you need more articles, and some say it takes time. Google says to develop paragraphs further. Here I go, and now I wait. Yes, it's hard to learn and swallow.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Serious writers take criticism seriously with appreciation, just as you have laid out so well in this hub. Your info and tips here are on target and should be helpful to everyone, for even though writers may try to remember to be objective about criticism it's not always our first response. It's always smart, but not always easy!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @DDE, being able to listen closely to the criticism is so important. Thank-you for taking time to read today.

      @Alur, Writing is a creative process yet there needs to be a link with readers so they want to read your words. Thanks for the comment and I also left a comment at your hub.

      @sandonia, The tone of the criticism, as you say, can make the difference in how we take it. Great observation Sandonia. You are learning so much and I'm pleased to be connected with you.

      @Kathleen, I understand what you mean. If someone we don't know criticizes us it may be easier to take than a relative. Then again, you can be happy that your husband is truthful enough to share his honest opinion. Feedback is such an interesting process.

      @Kelley, You are a smart lady! You distance yourself from the comments and put yourself into the shoes of the person who left you the comment. So important. Thanks for the read and sharing your experience Kelley!

      @Jeff, we can even welcome other opinions as a way to get new insights into a subject. Thanks for your comment and support!

      @TT, We learn so much from criticism. Honesty is great from other writers and I appreciate your support and share of this hub!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I have been writing for a while now and totally agree with your Hub criticism in my opinion is good for most writers, one has to know about such tips thanks

    • ALUR profile image

      ALUR 5 years ago from USA

      Truth be told, I separate myself from others perspective but remain open. Every one has their own taste and voice but as long as I am true to myself, my characters and the plot or message is clear, then I have done my job: writing is a form of art-and the essence of a true artist is to create.

      Thanks for good insight and by all means check out my versatile hubs!

    • sandonia profile image

      sandonia 5 years ago

      If someone presents constructive criticism (e.g., "if you tried this…," "it would have been better if…"), then I take it under consideration. I do not always agree, but I'll consider it. If it's useless criticism (e.g., "This article is stupid," "Haha. Duh, you used you're rather than your.") then I tend to respond less objectively.

      I think constructive criticism is extremely valuable though. It's hard to go it alone because you don't always see your own mistakes, or someone might have some better insight into the audience or a way to approach the topic.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I doing better at this now that I consider my writing what I do not who I am. The hardest person to take criticism from is my husband, for two reasons. 1. His opinion matters so much to me. 2. He's not my target market so too often what he has to say is basically I should write in a different genre.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Christy you hit this spot on. My highest viewed article on parenting boys has received lots of positive and some negative comments. At first it kind of hurt me but then I decided they are free to their own opinion and their opinion doesn't lessen me as a person or what I wrote. I associate it with being diagnosed with diabetes. Before my diagnosis I didn't have a clue what life with diabetes was like. Now when people without diabetes try to "help" me manage my disease I just try to take it with a grain of salt. When people read my stuff they may react to one thing i said as a result of their history and that may incite them to become angry. Either way i like to allow both positive and negative comments. I learn so much from both! Voted up and shared. Awesome hub! Kelley

    • Jeff Gamble profile image

      Jeff Gamble 5 years ago from Denton, Texas

      Christy - Super hub! Right on with needing to understand what is being said. Just because a reader noticed your imperfect punctuation doesn't mean you should throw in the towel. We also need to keep in mind that when we write an opinion piece, we can expect to get feedback that differs from our opinion, and that's ok.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Fantastic hub, Christy, and so true. I find I would rather have an honest criticism that helps me grow as a writer than a hundred "great hubs!" VUMS.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Jane, Distancing yourself from your work can be helpful. I'm glad you find the hub useful my friend. Thanks for the read and comment!

    • profile image

      Jane Carroll 5 years ago

      Wow! Timely article for I go through the editing process...always a tricky time for're right...when I finally get over hurt feelings...and...incorporate the suggestions into the's a much richer piece!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks Red for the comment and share. Nice to see you here! I understand how the break immediately after writing the piece is a good way to re-focus and develop some objectivity prior to reading associated comments.

    • Ann Marie Dwyer profile image

      Ann Marie Dwyer 5 years ago from South Carolina, USA

      Excellent piece, Christy. There are times when I wish I got more feedback.

      I have found when I need to take the break is not after the feedback, but before. I need to let the piece settle, so I am not so emotionally charged about it, before I offer it for critical eyes. Keeps my feelings out of it.


    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you Lee. There is always much to learn from other's viewpoints and their own experience with written work. Your votes and comments are always appreciated.

    • Drtruthman profile image

      Drtruthman 5 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Great job Christy. I enjoyed and hope writers will utilize your Hub, my Hub and others on criticism an understand the VALUE of objective criticism. Very good. I voted UP all across. Lee

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am glad you found the hub useful Vinaya. I admire you for pursuing your writing in the face of harsh criticism. You are a good example for this hub of positivity!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes criticism is not on a personal level so much as about the written work. Once that is understood it is easier to be objective and really listen. Thank-you for your kind comments. I appreciate your words.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      If it is about writing and not a persons thing, I take criticism positively. When I began writing on hubpages, there were people who said I write craps and my language skill is poor. I took this positively, because I have always written for my country people and did not know what international readers on hubpages expect from a writer. And also, English is my second language and I know I may not be as good as natives, but all the time I try to improve my language.

      Your point of view is very interesting. I'll remember these points every time I receive merciless criticism.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Your hub is encouraging for those of us who want to excel in writing with understanding. Your advice can only help someone be a become a better writer. I try to listen, relect upon what is said, search out the truth of it and then respond postively to criticism. You are right. We must consider it an honor when someone takes the time to comment on our writing.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You are right that there are correct ways to give criticism as well. Thank-you for the valuable feedback here.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you wayseeker for the compliments! There is always room to learn and grow.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes Doreen I hear that from many writers. That is why I wanted to offer up some tips here. Thanks for stopping by to read.

    • profile image

      lilMissScrittore 5 years ago

      This is totally crucial for all writers. I find it difficult to work with others who do take criticism so personally. However, when someone does not know how to give constructive criticism, I can see why some writers would take their feedback personally. Always two sides of every coin. Nice job on this hub!

    • wayseeker profile image

      wayseeker 5 years ago from Colorado

      This is a hard thing to learn, but it is absolutely essential if you are interested in growing as a writer. Valuable information well presented--nice. Voted up.


    • profile image

      DMartelonline 5 years ago

      My *worst* thing ;) I hate being criticized LOL