Getting Started & Writer's Block
What to do when you get a bad review?
My take on it as a little different, I’m afraid. I assume you’re talking about responses here and on other writing sites. But they’re not reviews. They’re critiques, a totally different animal. A review passes judgment. A critique is constructive, so there’s no such thing as a bad critique. If someone says, “This section stinks,” that’s a perfectly valid comment, so long as they explain why they believe it does. And that’s constructive because they’re helping you get rid of the problems before you show it to a prospective publisher or agent. That’s not to say that they’re right in what they say, only that it struck them that way. And since they’re unlikely to be unique, right or wrong, you need to address why the writing failed to keep them so fascinated that they were able to stop and comment. Another important point: how they suggest fixing a given problem matters less than why they were moved to comment. Their suggestion is how they would handle the problem. But they stopped reading because your writing failed to captivate as well as it should have. That’s what needs to be fixed. But that being said, it hurts when something you’ve worked so hard on gets a raspberry from a reader. Of course it hurts. So what do you do? First, you say thank you. Someone you probably don’t know took time they didn’t have to give you in an attempt to help you become a better writer. It doesn’t matter if you like the result or not. It doesn't matter if they're right or wrong. They did you a service. And you have to treat it as such. Then, you settle down and look at each point that was raised and ask yourself how they could possibly have misunderstood your words. Perhaps you go back to the books on writing that have been the most helpful to you, to review what the pros have to say on that point (you have read at least a few of the more suspected teachers of writing, I hope). You might ask for clarification, to better understand what in the writing caused that reaction. You might bring the subject up in the forums to see what other people think, so far as handling the kind of thing that was commented on. But waste time on being upset for someone finding fault with your writing? “A writer, shy or not, needs a tough skin, for no matter how advanced one’s experience and career, expert criticism cuts to the quick, and one learns to endure and to perfect, if for no other reason than to challenge the pain-maker.” ~ Sol Stein