How to Handle Negative Criticism by D.W. Brooks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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How to Handle Negative Criticism

So, you finally hit publish on your novel, blog post, newspaper article, or narrative poem.

Or someone else hits ‘publish’.

Either way, your baby that you sweated over is out in the world. You anxiously await the comments and reviews of your work. Will there be accolades, some written high fives? You know you did great work on this piece and can’t wait to bask in the recognition of your skill. You settle in to wait…

But the unexpected and unwanted happens. Someone stops to tell the world that they don’t like your piece. They identify flaws, lapses in reasoning, errors in judgement. They don’t see the masterpiece, just a collection of random, incorrectly planned words placed one after the other. And the part that you thought was so clever—they say not so much.

Those words feel like a stab through your heart. Now what? Should you defend your work and write an angry screed excoriating the negative reviewer? Should you slink away to a corner and never put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) again? How can you ever show your face—virtual or actual—in writing circles again?

These are some thoughts that go through your mind when you receive negative criticism of your work. I won’t lie: it’s hard, and it hurts. Very few writers make it through this industry without running into negative reviews somewhere. And there are different ways to deal with them, ranging from terrible reactions to doing the best you can under the circumstances.

*Angry Screed: This might feel the most gratifying but is the worst choice out there. Who wouldn’t love to attack the person who didn’t like your work and had the temerity to say so out loud?

Bad idea, BAD IDEA! This creates a difficult dynamic between the writer and the review community. Most people agree reviews are for the reading community and not the author. And attacking someone because of their opinion is a bad look and will garner you bad press in this hyperreactive social media world. The main thing you must keep in mind is that your work, be it a novel, short story, poem, essay, or other, is NOT for everyone. This person didn’t get you or what you were trying to say. They weren’t your intended audience. But keep working so you can find the people who get your work. Also, if you are sensitive about reviews, don’t read them. Spare yourself the pain.

*Accept defeat and quit writing. That’s an option. But not a good one if you are serious about your craft. You can’t let one person run you off from what you want to do. And really, one person’s opinion should not be the be-all, end-all about your ability.

*Read the reviews and analyze the comments. Take advantage of opportunities to fine tune and improve. This can be difficult and really depends on your skin thickness. If you find you take criticism personally, you might be better off skipping reading your reviews or having a friend screen them!

*Don’t sweat the reviews and continue your journey. Nurse your feelings as needed and work on steeling your spine. That’s easy to say, I know—I am still working on this skill myself.

There are several ways to handle negative criticism. There is no one right way, but there is one really flawed way, which can make your writing life more difficult. You should decide how you want to deal with negative reviews and criticism early in your process.

A dead body in the parking lot of her family’s business, a killer on the loose, and a handsome detective asking a lot of questions…

Jamie Scott’s life fell apart four years ago when she broke off her engagement, turned down a dream job, and went overseas to run away from her life. Now she’s back, but the reunion is not without problems. She arrives home just in time to attend the soiree her mother planned, but she’s not prepared for what she finds—a dead employee in the parking lot.

Detective Nick Marshall is assigned to the murder case at the forensics lab owned by Jamie’s family. He meets the headstrong Jamie, but he has a job to do. And his attraction to her… well, he’s a professional.

Jamie knows the stakes are high. She has to face the past and save her parents’ business while dealing with her family drama and an uncertain future. She also has to deal with Nick, who wants her out of the way of his investigation. But fate keeps throwing them in one another’s paths… and into chaos that they both want to avoid, but neither can seem to escape.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Jamie entered the simply appointed room decorated in blue, white, and seafoam green. The attached bathroom incorporated blue and white colors. Jamie sat on the edge of the bed and looked around the room. Since she never lived here, the room didn’t hold many personal touches, as did Jon’s and Jillian’s rooms. There were plenty of pillows, a complete set of cherry wood bedroom furniture, and a mid- sized flat-screen TV above the chest of drawers. It represented a fitting guest room since she was now a guest—a nervous guest at that. What if her mother verbally eviscerated her again? Could she deal? Jamie realized she was delaying her meeting with her mom for as long as possible. What else could she do to kill time?

She peeked in the closet to see if she had left any clothes behind from four years ago. Unfortunately, she found nothing that would be appropriate for what would be a formal event on Sunday night.

She went into the bathroom and removed her baseball cap to inspect the state of her hair in the mirror. It was fine for a quiet home visit, but not for a dressy affair. Jamie had let her relaxer grow out while she was out of the country. She typically flat-twisted her natural hair to emphasize the wave pattern. Before this trip, she had only washed, conditioned, and air-dried her hair, thinking that she would have some time after her arrival to moisturize and comb it. Now, it was just squashed down by her hat. Ugh. Since she wouldn’t be able to prep before talking to her mother, she would have to atone by looking her best for the party. For such a formal affair, she would have to visit a salon for a trim and style.

There was a knock on the bedroom door. “Come in!” Jamie yelled as she tucked her cap back onto her head and came out of the bathroom. Jon placed her bags inside her door. “Mother is waiting for you downstairs. I’m going to my room to avoid the tearful reunion.” He didn’t live there anymore but still called his childhood room “his room”.

Jamie sighed. Time to woman up. “OK. Let me wash my face, and I’ll be down. Where is she, exactly?” she inquired.

“Still in the study. Good luck.”

About the Author:The author is a doctor and editor who lives in Texas with her husband and children. She enjoys trying to stay in shape, sporadically cooking, reading (still), writing, and working on her blog. She is eternally grateful to the woman who donated a kidney to her over 5 years ago and continues to advocate for organ donation as much as she can.

To learn more about D. W. Brooks and future publications and events, visit her website.

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