I knew that the internet was full of people who were mean, but I never realised how bad it was until it was pointed at me. I never believed that criticism was even a thing that mattered until I wrote an article for the Huffington Post (it’s the one below this page) and I was excited. Ecstatic really! It all happened within a week and everyone that I’d spoken to told me that was basically unheard of. I was so thrilled. I told all of my friends, most of my family and shared it in one of my very awesome and supportive Facebook groups.
I went on with what I had to do.
I was on cloud nine.
Until I woke up to people tagging me on Twitter about how horrible the post was and how I basically was illiterate and that the post itself was a parody.
It was enough to make any writer want to cry and shut the world out, yeah? And mostly I made the mistake of following the trail and reading most of them and then finding the horrible comments on my blog and my article. I should have stopped myself.
But I learned something really important from it: that’s their opinion and not mine.
Yes, there are spelling mistakes in my article, I’m working on getting those fixed, yes there are probably grammar mistakes too, but my grammar has never been perfect.
I’m not perfect. I never claimed to be, I even put a disclaimer within the post that I wasn’t perfect.
But I wrote what I most wanted. I am predominantly a fiction writer. I can string together an entire novel in front of your eyes, I can plot it, make up the setting, have a character and then promptly start writing it. In an hour I can have close to 2000 words for you. That’s what I’m good at.
What I’m okay at? Writing blog posts.
As a teenager I had a blog, it was a ranty blog, it got me in trouble with high school buddies, but it was my sort of journal release and I deleted it when it no longer served me. I learned about criticism early. I never paid attention to it.
It wasn’t until I moved and went to uni for the second time that I realised just how debilitating it was to have my piece ripped to shreds. I took it personally, everyone in my last uni used to praise me, they loved it and I loved hearing it, even if I was pretty naive and new at writing. Why didn’t they like me now?
But they did like me, they liked me enough to give me constructive criticism on how to fix my story, they wanted to help me grow as a writer. They weren’t afraid to let me spread out my wings. And I’m thankful because it helped me learn how to take criticism and it’s really helped me in the last day or so.
How do you beat down criticism?
- Get Rejected. Submit your work and get rejected, no matter how many nice things are said, it still stings, but it makes you grow as a writer.
- Surround yourself with high vibing peeps. They will be the ones to bring you back up when the world knocks you down. They will also threaten to hunt down said people who bring you down (it’ll make you laugh while they’re 100% serious).
- Love what you do. Really, this is a no brainer. You should love what you do. I love writing, it’s like air for me and I breathe it all in whenever I can so, even though I know there are people that hated my writing, I love my writing, so I’m okay with whatever they have to say.
- Remember they don’t know you. The people who commented and then continued to fish around and tell me how terrible I was at writing also don’t know how much fear I had to bust through to even post on there (let’s just say I’d been thinking about submitting for over a year now).
- Don’t engage with them. Engaging with them gives them power, power they don’t deserve and they know it. They will heckle at you and try to tear you down, but they won’t mean that you drop to their level and give them the upper hand. Delete comments, block people, ignore the bad comments and remember that you have high vibing peeps around you.
- Believe in yourself. This is the hardest one of all. It sounds so simple, but you need to back yourself and know that you’re good. Because without that belief in yourself, how is anyone else going to believe in you? And for the record? I believe in you.
- Prove them wrong. Don’t back down and take it, use their hate and their rejection and funnel it into something that keeps you going. Write another blog post, draft another story, publishing another article, do whatever you need to get back on the horse and then watch them try and tear you down again and again, but it could be that one thing that pushes you closer to your dream and they helped you get there by trying to tear you down.
Then the biggest thing I could ever tell you to do is to just: forget about writing the article, or the story, move onto the next piece and figure out what is next for you. Do you need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a fresh idea or do you need to figure out what. Like I said above, their opinion doesn’t matter. They don’t know you, they don’t know the effort, time and fear that you busted through to get to where you are. Don’t let them be the reason you quit and the reason that you shun the world.
Your words are important. And yes, even with the spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes, but that makes you unique, because you own that you’re not perfect and that you can happily accept that.
Have you come across criticism in what you do? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.
Ps here is the post if anyone wants to take a look at the comments. Yes there are some mistakes in the prose, but I’m okay with it now.