Hello! Let’s talk about an unpleasant topic that is bound to happen, sooner or later. That is the topic of a bad review ✍️😭
Doing writing workshops in college, I noticed that some people would get very emotional over constructive criticism. Even though we had to find places of improvement in the story. Even though we were there to learn.
So, besides putting our fingers in our ears and going la la la, what else could we do?
1. Know That it Will Happen, And it is Normal
A book that is 100% loved by 100% of people is rare indeed. Even books so successful that they are turned to movies receive negative reviews. You just can’t please all the people, all the time.
Google your favorite book and see the reviews. Chances are, some are negative.
Even books like Andy Weir’s The Martian receive reviews such as: “MacGyver gets stranded on Mars” and “Main plot is predictable, not really suspenseful.” (Those were 2-star reviews on Amazon). It happens, and it is okay.
2. 10% of People Won’t Like You– No Matter What
That statistic works just as well for your writing. You might have a pretty good piece of writing with a solid story. Still, some people just won’t like it.
You are not everybody’s cup of tea. No one is.
In life, it is foolish to aim for everyone to like us. The same applies to writing. Over time, you will build an audience that gels very well with your writing. But that audience won’t be the whole entire world.
3. They Are Criticizing the Story, Not You Personally
I offended a girl at a workshop because I criticized a boring character, and it turned out she had modeled him after herself. Well, you can be boring in real life, but I was talking about the character!
Criticism of plot, characters, setting, or anything else has to do with the story– not you as a person.
And I know some stories come straight from the heart, but there is still a big difference between you as a person and what is on paper. When a negative review stings, realize that it is something about the story they did not enjoy. You are still intact as a person.
4. Try to See Their Point of View
This is an important one for beginners like me (and maybe you). And especially if you keep seeing the same repeat negative comment.
When you read a negative review, consider if it is something that will actually help you improve your writing.
If people keep saying it was hard to picture your setting, you might have to work a bit more on that. If people are saying your characters are all the same, you might want to take a closer look at that. Negative reviews can truly be an opportunity for improvement.
5. Forget Any Incoherent Negative Reviews
While you should definitely consider the criticism, you certainly don’t have to consider all of it. I’ve gotten some great feedback that was negative, and some not-so-great feedback that was negative.
Whatever, it’s stupid, I didn’t even read it.
☝️😑 That, my friends, is a real 1-star review I received on one of my short stories. These happen, and they are useless. Better to forget it and move on (though this one was particularly hard to forget. You… didn’t even read it! 😲)
Negative reviews are unpleasant, but we can power through them.
Even if you completely bomb and receive mostly negative feedback, there is always the next book. Take the good, constructive advice and leave the rest behind!
Got any tips to soothe the sting? Let us know in the comments 📚
Take care and write on,
🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜