Writer-Angst at its Best

How do you get past writing criticism? How do you get past the “This blows” critique on something you have worked really hard on? How do you not cry when the red ink bleeds off the page of a piece you poured your emotion and heart into, and feel it is an example of writing you are proud of?

In my professional writing career, I hand a user manual over, and I am at the mercy of the user. Whether the document I have sweated over will be usable and effective, whether it is laid out properly, that sort of thing.

I know it is correct, because it went through eleventy-billion edits to ensure it. But what will the user think? With so many different types of users, not all are going to do a dance of joy and hug it to their chest. Some will come back with comments such as “too long” or “too simple” or “Where are the redundant and detailed technical appendices that give me a sense of ethos even though I can’t understand the diddley?”.

This type of criticism I am ok with. I smile, nod, take notes, and sometimes incorporate, sometimes not.  I forge ahead without a blink or trod-upon pride. I had my orders on the manual I was to create, I created it, and it was approved. Done. End of story.

But switch me over to my fictional-writing self, and I am a mess.

I recently put a piece of writing out, on a whim, to a website, and they posted it. I eagerly went to the site that day, wanting to know what people thought, anxious to get the feedback. I knew there may be some negative criticism, and given the happy-go-lucky nature in my professional writing, I was not expecting to find it completely gut-wrenching and defeating.

But it was.

There were comments of “this is rubbish” and comments of “This person should stop writing”. There were detailed descriptions of every litte thing that I got wrong historical-wise, and someone even went so far as to criticize my Canadian spelling! In the end, it was not the constructive experience I had hoped. The voraciousness and free-rein of the Internet bowled me over. Something I should understand, being part of this online world for over a decade now. Putting your stuff out on the Internet for comment means you may get burned, like trying to make new friends with the popular girl in the schoolyard. But it still hurt to know that people thought I sucked.

I haven’t been able to write a word since. I can’t even go back to the website to see if more comments were posted, maybe some positive. Those first few sword-jabs were enough.

So I ask for advice! Give me some coping mechanisms to pick up my socks and keep going, break through the feeling that I can’t do this goal I have set for myself.

I’m feelin’ needy.


2 thoughts on “Writer-Angst at its Best

  1. Capital Mom November 9, 2010 / 3:03 pm

    Oh wow. That sucks.

    First, good for your for writing and submitting. That is more and further than maybe people every get. You get props for going out there and doing it.

    Second, people are mean. Not everyone of course, but all the people at home that wish they could write or submit but are too afraid too, they are mean. They will probably cut down anyone. I bet if you looked at another posting, one that you through had good writing, you would see bad comments there too. People that aren’t jealous have no need to say mean things. They can provide feedback in such a positive way that you are glad they did.

    Mayeb your writing wasn’t perfect. No one’s is. But I bet that the comments had more to do about the people leaving the comments then your writing.

    Finally, the Internet makes people feel like it is okay to be mean. I bet people wouldn’t say those things to your face.

    I’m sorry that this happened. It sucks.

    I think you are a good writer.

  2. Amber November 9, 2010 / 7:00 pm

    I don’t have any advice. All that I can say is that mean people suck, and you seem to find more mean people in some places than in others. It sounds like what you posted was basically anonymous, and that always seems to bring out the mean.

    It is hard to put your heart-felt work out there. HARD. And then when it’s rejected, it’s even harder. I haven’t submitted any article queries for a long time because of this. Which isn’t great. I need to get back on that.

    All that I can tell you is that these people are not the ones who decide what is and isn’t good. And I don’t think you should give their opinions any weight. They certainly haven’t given YOURS any.

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