Make Criticism Feel Good

One of the hardest parts of writing is the criticism that naturally comes along with it. Perhaps this even holds some of us back a bit. Writing makes you vulnerable. The whole point of writing is to pour your heart out onto the page (for days, months, or even years), put it out there for the world to see, and then wait for the reaction. We all hope for stellar reviews across the board and thousands of copies to be sold. But the reality is that no matter how perfect your writing is, there is always going to be someone who just doesn’t like it. It’s very hard to please everyone and that is one of the first things you need to accept if you are going to have a fulfilling and successful writing career. But, it’s not easy. Those comments hurt and often stick with us for years to come, popping into our mind most often at the worst possible time. Writing isn’t just about becoming a better writer, it’s also about becoming a better version of yourself. Writing teaches us many things and how to handle failure and negative criticism with class is just one of them.

I was so happy to see an article about criticism on Elite Daily yesterday- especially at this time year. Things are starting to wind down and we are starting to look into next year. We start setting our goals for the upcoming months, goals that most likely include more risk being taken and pushing yourself farther than you ever done before. With bigger risks often comes bigger criticism. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad. These pieces of criticism will most likely yield your greatest lessons. Here’s a few things that Merylee Sevilla has learned about enduring criticism.

  1. Critics will always exist.

There is always going to be someone out there that has something negative, no matter how big or small, to say about your work. The most important thing to remember is that they are criticizing you based on their own opinion. There are still many other people out there who absolutely love what you are doing- focus on that.

2. Grow tough skin.

Don’t let other people’s negativity get to you. Instead of feeling down or discouraged, use their criticism as energy. Energy to become a better writer and to perhaps win them over the next time around. Turn negativity into positivity.


3. Learn how to become innovative.

There’s a lot of criticism out there about not being ‘original’ enough. It’s really hard to be original. With the ease of the internet, more stories are getting published each day than ever before. Take your focus from trying to be ‘original’ and start being ‘innovative.’ Put new spins on stories that have already been done, break the rules a little, and aim to surprise your readers. Innovation is a much more realistic and just as effective goal.

4. Just go for it.

Your biggest regret will be holding back. If you are afraid to publish a story because of the possible criticism that might come along with it, you are missing a huge opportunity. A negative comment might hurt for a few days but the pain of a missed opportunity will never go away. Be brave, be bold, and publish your work as you imagine it to be.

Write on.

Listen To Your Audience

During some weekend web surfing I came across an awesome hub for science fiction writers and readers. Locus Online has been around since 1997. Although I am happy I discovered this website, I’m upset I haven’t heard about it sooner since I had a lot of fun poking around on it and reading some great articles. Locus Online is a website/magazine dedicated to science fiction and fantasy writing. It seems to be a great place for writers to go to share or discuss issues regarding writing in the science fiction or fantasy genre. It can also appeal to readers of the genre as well with book reviews and author interviews. I’m particularly excited about this because both science fiction and fantasy are very popular categories across all formats and any glimpse I can get further into this world will allow me better serve its fans and writers.

One of the articles I particularly enjoyed was a post by Kameron Hurley, who is both an author and reviewer of books. Her post is all about who she writes for and how she blocks out all the negative criticism. She points out that you should only write for your targeted readers and forget about what everyone else thinks. I couldn’t agree with this more. I do a lot of work with and reading of romance and erotica books and let’s just say the genre is absolutely not for everyone. I can completely understand and relate to that. I hear a lot of negative feedback about these books- too graphic, too much swearing, weak story line/not enough going on, only focused around sex. Many times I find myself saying, “So what?” to these comments. Romance/erotica is one of the most popular genres out there, it has a huge loyal fan base and many talented authors. Just because it isn’t your cup of tea doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. These books are doing exactly what their targeted audience is asking for and they are succeeding beyond belief. If you don’t agree then you aren’t the targeted reader and maybe you should find something else that better suits your style.

Kameron also goes into detail discussing how there are always going to be people who do not like your work. Unfortunately, especially in today’s society with the internet so readily accessible, if you put something out there for public viewing it will get scrutinized. There’s no way to avoid, even the most successful authors have haters. I am a firm believer that if you don’t have any haters or criticism then you aren’t doing your job right. The key is learning to accept that this will happen and learn how to block it out and focus only on the people that matter. The only people you should worry about are the readers who are your targeted audience because you will never ever, for as long as you may live, be able to make everyone happy. In fact, Kameron suggests (through an inspirational Colin Powell quote) you are actually doing a disservice to yourself if you try to make everyone happy. You need to remain true to yourself and your readers or else your biggest supporters will soon turn into your biggest haters.


At the end of the day, worry about yourself, your work, and your readers. Listen to your audience’s feedback, not the haters. Criticism is a good thing, we all need it, but pick your battles because not all criticism is correct. Make your work the way you want to, something that you are proud of. Your work should make you happy, make you feel good because after all it has your name on it and no one else. Once it is out there in the world, it is not coming back. Write on.