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.