Dealing with Criticism

Since I was young, I have learned to accept criticism.  Constructive criticism, as a prominent figure in my childhood used to call it.  Given my youth, and who the criticism came from, I took these as instructions on how to do better.  I lived and died by those criticisms.  I longed for the day when this person would simply say, great job and that would be it.

As I grew up, I learned that the awesome thing about criticism is I can take it or leave it.   When I began to write paranormal romance, this person had concerns because it wasn’t what he thought of as a prominent genre. Because I chose to ignore that opinion, I have published one novel and have my second on the way.

I also learned that it’s all right for someone to disagree with you.  I like paranormal romance.  It’s all right if others in my life don’t.  I write, and will continue to write the novels that speak to me; to tell the stories that I enjoy hearing.

Which leads me to the last thing I’ve learned, you can’t please everyone.  This is something echoed often these days in politics.  Someone running for office should be clear about where they stand and not change it depending on who they are talking to.  A novelist can’t write something that appeals to everyone.  It’s impossible.  Even breakout books like “50 Shades of Grey” may not appeal to someone who reads only horror novels or sweet religious mysteries.

I have grown to find criticism valuable.  I will continue to ask the person from my youth his opinion.  I also have several other people whose opinions I value.  They don’t have to agree with me.  Even the harshest criticisms may hold something I can learn from.

The trick to dealing with criticisms is to remember:

  1. It’s not personal – For all that we as writers pour our soul into our books, criticisms of the books are not directed at us.
  2. Criticisms, critiques and reviews are opinions – Just because someone believes something is the best (or worst) thing on earth doesn’t make it so.
  3. You can leave the opinions you don’t agree with – Unless you want to make a suggested change, it’s not necessary. (unless the change is from your editor, then that’s another ball of wax entirely)
  4. It’s okay that people won’t like it – I don’t like honey-boo-boo, but that girl and her family are making money hand over fist.  (good for them)
  5. You can’t please everyone – this kind of goes with #4.  The point I want to make here is, the only one you should be worried about pleasing is yourself.