Reflection: Dealing With “Negative” Feedback

As a writer, I love feedback.  I’ve previously reflected on why I feel reviewing is important, and how getting somebody else’s opinion is important.  But at the same time, I fear feedback.  People are reviewing a story that I worked very hard on, and “negative” feedback can be hard to take.

I, for one, due to my somewhat obsessive personality, tend to take it a little closer to heart than most.  If somebody says my story sucks, I will take it personally.  But even if somebody is a bit more respectful and offers constructive criticism, I may still be a little disheartened on the inside.

I’ve mentioned all this before.  A writer gets attached to his story.  It’s like his child; a piece of his soul is in it.  Even constructive criticism can be difficult to take well.  This is why I put “negative” in quotes in the post title: it refers to any sort of feedback suggesting improvements/changes.

I remember when I shared “The Cromm Conspiracy’s” prologue (read it here) with my college creative writing class.  There were a lot of positive comments, but no matter how many positive comments I got, I still found myself focusing on the negative ones (or rather, things that need improvement).

Then, there was the question of how to handle the negative comments.  Each of them has to be taken seriously, and not dismissively ignored.  Ignoring a negative comment is simply ego getting in the way of good writing.  I have to consider what the comment was, and try to figure out why it was made.  Maybe I should go back to and have a talk with the reviewer; discuss it with him.  Two heads are better than one.

Now even though I feel I should consider every comment, that doesn’t mean I should always make the changes, just consider them.  If after careful consideration, I feel that the comment was not helpful, I would ignore it then.  Of I might try rewriting the story based on the comment, and find I like it better in the original way (or a reviewer does), and return to the original version.

And there are comments that can be ignored.  For example, if the reader clearly missed some detail in the story that would explain everything.  But even in this case, I should probably check and make sure that said detail is not too easy to miss.  Also, if one person criticizes a section that all my other reviewers praised, I can probably dismiss the criticism.

But in the end, despite the negative comments, and the fact that I might have taken them personally on the inside, I found the critiques were incredibly helpful.  I only wish I had some similar opportunities to have the rest of my stories reviewed, including the remaining 82 chapters of Cromm.

To put it simply, there are three ways a person can handle negative comments: they can become disheartened and begin to feel their story sucks, they can dismiss them believing their story is good as is, or they can use them as an opportunity to help improve the story.  Every writer should choose the latter.  Despite any initial disheartened emotions, in the end, I’ll end up with a better story.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, White Rakogis has to sign off.


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