Writing is a personal act. In order to write well, a writer must dig within himself. This means getting attached to one’s writing, the characters, storyline, etc. This also means opening oneself up to public scrutiny. We’ve all read book reviews at some point in our lives. Some reviews are absolutely amazing, while others can be really hurtful.
With the Internet being so prevalent in our lives, it’s easy to go online and comment on authors and their writing. The anonymity makes it even easier for readers to say just what they think about someone or someone’s writing, without truly thinking through what they’re saying.
This can make it difficult for writers to want to share their work with the world, especially if they’re concerned about offending someone. In one of my stories, I had two cops get killed. It was necessary to the story that they died, but I received some very negative backlash for that story. A few individuals didn’t like that the cops died and they made it very clear how I was being un-American and how I was making police look bad. These few readers grossly misinterpreted my writing, but it still stung to read their reviews.
No matter what you write or how careful you are trying not to offend anyone, you will tick someone off. There are too many people in this world to have everyone like your writing. Look at some of the most famous works of literature. They could have sold millions of copies, but not everyone likes them.
So, how do you handle the negativity?
- The best thing to do is to ignore the hurtful words. That’s so much easier said than done, but when you engage with someone who wrote something nasty about you or your writing, you’ll only end up with a headache. Going back and forth with someone who isn’t thinking rationally, or who only wants to rant, isn’t a productive or healthy use of your time.
- Laugh off the comments. This specific example doesn’t pertain to writing, but it gets the point across of how ridiculous some comments can be. One of my friends posted a picture of herself pre-weight loss. She was slightly overweight, but still looked amazing. She got a lot of people calling her fat and fugly and all sorts of horrible things. (One even went as far as telling her to starve herself.) Then, after she reached her goal weight, she posted another picture of herself (she had spent her time training for a marathon, and had just completed it). Instead of receiving an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, there were some people who told her she was too skinny, that she had too much muscle, and that she looked too manly and so was ugly. Then, there were still a few people who said she was fat. No matter what happens there are people in this world who strive to put other people down. Most times their comments make no sense, so laugh them off. Who knows, maybe those individuals giving negative feedback are doing so because they’re unhappy with their lives and are displacing their anger and disappointment at themselves onto you.
- Embrace the fact that people are reacting to your writing. Whether good or bad, comments are feedback. When people take time out of their busy schedules to comment on something you wrote, you’ve struck a chord with them. You’ve influenced them in some way. At the end of the day that’s what writers hope to accomplish: creating an impact on peoples’ lives. Look at Fifty Shades of Grey. This was a book that many people hated, and they made their feelings well known. However, if readers hadn’t been so boisterous in their ranting, this novel wouldn’t have been nearly as financially successful as it was.
How do you go about handling negative feedback?
(Photo courtesy of ChristaBanister.)