Let no one undermine your confidence. Including you. This is tough because not only are we usually our toughest critic, but our psyche is willing to chuck us under the bus and climb up on the bandwagon of any passing yahoo who aims their red pen our way. Happily.
It’s good to get criticism. It’s great to hear other opinions. It’s necessary to have your work dissected and investigated. In the end you have to pick your heart up from the floor, swallow back the bile of despair and put down the butcher knife before you go after someone. Sometimes the critiques that sting the most are the ones you need to inspect the hardest. They might have caught something you’ve been unable to see.
(potty mouth alert)
On the other hand, some people are just assholes. It can be difficult to tell the difference.
It feels good to get compliments but it’s important to pay attention to both positive and negative feedback. Once you get past the worst of the feelbads, it’s usually possible to see why the reviewer thought or said what they did. In certain cases you can tell right off it’s because they didn’t pay attention, were having a bad day, or someone invoked them with a careless incantation and they read your manuscript on the way to the massacre.
Don’t stew. Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. We’ve all been there. This is one of those rites of passage in being a professional writer. Consider it part of the hazing. You thought you escaped that in college but here it is again. You take your licks, keep churning out the words, and eventually you prove the lousy jerks wrong. You get an agent. You win a contest. You publish. You reject negativity and have pride in your accomplishments because you persevere. Because you ARE that good. And if you forget that little nugget of truth, send me a tweet and I’ll remind you.
Writers are survivors.
The public can argue about which survivalist group has the best chance of dusting themselves off after the apocalypse occurs (any flavor – you choose), but we know they’re ALL wrong. Writers have imagined every possible scenario. We’ve dreamed up every possible end-of-the-world situation, thrown our protagonists and antagonists into the thick of the disaster and challenged them to survive.
Then we’ve figured out how they do – we’ve created solutions, addressed trauma, and inserted twisted, absurd and ridiculous drama. We know how to locate the good water supplies, where to find the stash of extra batteries, and even concoct the secret antidote recipe (for anything and everything) made from something inane like fig leaves soaked in gin and dipped in Lousiana hot sauce.
If we can kick back and casually sort through the end of life as we know it – what’s a few snarky comments about your work-in-progress? Read the suggestions, consider the criticisms, and either nod your head or snort rude noises through your nostrils and turn the page. Trust yourself. There’s writing to get done.