You’ve just completed a short story or an article. You have worked hard on it and are glad that you’ve seen it to completion. The thing is you don’t know how good it is. You are eager to find out. So, you pass your work around to people you think can give you feedback.
When the feedback arrives, it’s not what you expect. You shortcomings are pointed out. You never thought you had them.
You’re disappointed. You thought you’ve done well. You put the piece away and still hurt from the response you’ve received.
Once Bitten Twice Shy
It takes you days to put the unpleasant experience behind you. Days later, you get another idea for a piece of writing.
You’re excited about the idea. Just then an uneasy thought intrudes. Will it be good enough if you pursue it? Will it suffer a similar fate as the previous piece?
You hesitate and put off writing it.
You don’t want to go through the pain of another negative feedback.
The Seed is Sown
Whether you realize it or not, you have started cultivating the procrastination habit.
Remember this. There was a time you didn’t procrastinate when it came to writing. Driven by passion, you had full confidence in your ability to write.
You set out to showcase your best work. But then your euphoria was shortlived. Along came a rejection letter. Or negative feedback. Your journey to procrastination started. You reached the destination quite fast.
Points to Take Note Of
If you’ve experienced this situation or in the midst of undergoing one, take note of the following points.
It doesn’t mean that you’ve received negative feedback on one piece, you’ll receive it on your next one. Of course, if you’re a beginner, you are prone to judge yourself based on one piece of work. Avoid this.
Secondly, don’t make the a big mistake of accepting negative feedback as gospel truth(s).
If writers are going to shattered by each negative feedback they receive, then there will be very little published. Every writer at one point or another has received less than favourable feedback on her work.
JK Rowling had her first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, rejected by 12 publishers. If that had discouraged her and she had sat brooding and procrastinated on writing the next one, the world would not have enjoyed the adventures of the boy wizard.
is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so
cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case,
you fail by default,” said J.K. Rowling
So, bear in mind that you’re not the only one receiving negative feedback for your work. Even successful writers who have been in the game for decades receive their fair share of brickbats.
Just head to the Amazon Bestselling books. Among the five star reviews there will be a few one star reviews which tears the book apart and lay bare its ‘flaws’.
Does this mean that the writer will start wondering whether he should be writing his next book?
No, the writer is wise enough to know that he can’t please everyone with his book, no matter how good he think it is.
So, the best thing to do is avoid thinking about the ‘bad ‘ reviews and continue with his next work.
You must have heard of some writers who don’t read reviews of their work. They have this arrogance – I create what I think is best for my readers. If you don’t like what I’m offering then it’s your problem.
You should try to adopt this attitude as early as possible in your writing career.
Waste of Time
Spending time thinking about what others think of your work is a complete waste of time. The time would be better spent writing which would certainly improve your skills.
Yes, your job as a writer is to keep on writing.
Think about others who receive negative feedback, even those big, capable companies who supposedly can’t make mistakes with all their resources at hand.
Someone steps into a restaurant, tastes the food and says that it’s unpalatable . He says it’s the worst food he has eaten. Does this mean the restaurant owner will close shop because of the negative feedback?
No, he won’t. Because he has invested enough time and money on the business. He’s not going to let a few less than favorable feedback make him hesitate and wonder if he should continue with what he’s doing.
He’ll serve the same food, most of the time, without bothering to improve the recipe. He knows his food is good enough. He knows for the hundred people who doesn’t like his food, there will be hundreds more who will.
The Incompetent Editor
Maybe you have not received positive feedback on your work. That’s alright. It could be because feedback comes from the wrong type of people. So, instead of taking this feedback seriously, just tell yourself that you’ve yet to meet the people who will like your work. You will meet them soon if you keep writing.
Now, let’s talk about the people who offer feedback on your work. I would like to make a sweeping statement here, based on my experience.
I think moist of them aren’t qualified to comment on your work, even the so-called professional ones.
As a children book writer, I write books in a series of eight books. After more than a decade of writing them full-time, and having got them accepted each time, I had an unpleasant experience with a new editor.
The editor got back to me saying that he’s rejecting all the books in the series. When asked, he replied, “I like to read books that make me cry. Your books doesn’t make me cry.”
At once I knew I was confronting an incompetent editor who let his personal taste creep into the judgment of the suitability of a manuscript for publication.
I ignored his feedback and contacted the publishing manager who suggested some changes but she never made it a requirement that the stories should make the reader cry. She understood that the stories taught children to be bold and proactive.
There are so many incompetent so-called editors out there who judge work based on their personal tastes. If you feel your work doesn’t deserve the negative feedback, just ignore it start writing your next one.
Don’t let a few negative responses stall you and waste all the time and effort you have put in to succeed at writing.
No Feedback Required
Better still, don’t ask for feedback on your work. Just finish your work and send it out for publication or publish it in your blog. This is not to say, you shouldn’t get feedback and learn from it. If feedback is halting your writing progress, then go ahead and dispense with it.
The truth is whatever feedback you receive isn’t going to and shouldn’t affect your writing competence. If you get glowing feedback, that doesn’t mean you’ve writing ability is at a high level. Your ability is what it is at a particular moment and will only improve over time.
So, why let negative feedback give you the false impression that you’re not as good as what you think you’re?
Devil May Care Attitude
These days I can’t be bothered with criticism about my work. I know I’ve paid my dues by writing consistently for over a quarter of a century. I know I’m not a perfect writer, but I’m improving. Yes, everyone is an improving writer if he keeps on with the daily grind.
These people who are giving all the negative feedback and non-constructive criticism can’t do much to improve me as a writer. It’s all down to me.
Yes, it’s down to you. They critics will offer their two cents and leave. But you’re the one who must be the ultimate judge of your ability. So, judge yourself fairly.
When criticism comes uninvited, tell yourself that it’s normal. Does a politician quit just because someone criticizes his decision or statement he made? No. These politicians are know to have hides thicker than that of crocodiles.
So, develop a crocodile’s hide when it comes to writing to protect yourself from the bullet of criticism or negative feedback that can injure you.
So, instead of procrastinating on your next project following a criticism or negative response, go ahead and start working on it now.
You can’t stop the negative feedback just like you can’t get rid your home of ants, roaches or lizards. They’ll be around. Let them be.
You concentrate on producing more work.