How to Handle Harsh Critiques

Posted July 6, 2015 by Briana in Advice / 5 Comments

As a former English major with a concentration in creative writing, I’ve had my share of harsh critiques. I’ve probably even given a few. With each workshop class I participated in, I received constructive criticism and learned to thicken my skin. Does that mean I’ve transcended hurt feelings? No, I’m only human. However, what I have done is learn how to handle any harsh critiques I may get with an element of grace.

Don’t Take It Personally

Most of the time, it’s nothing personal. If someone sends you a harsh critique, it doesn’t mean that they hate you or your work. Although it may sting, keep in mind that your reviewer is trying to be helpful. And if the comments seem particularly mean-spirited, that person may simply be having an off day. Try not to take it personally.

Ignore the Haters

Don’t feed the trolls. If a critique comes across like a slap in the face, or it’s clear that someone is trying to start a fight with you, do not engage. It won’t end well for you or for anyone else involved, trust me.

Remember the Intent

People want you to succeed. More often than not, your reviewer is trying to be helpful. If they’re critiquing you, they want to help you make your work better. Keep that in mind when reading feedback.

Think It Over

Your reader or critique partner might not mean for their words to come across the way they do. Technology has made modern communication so much easier, but subtext and inflection get lost in translation. Before lashing out at someone regarding a comment they made, consider all the different meanings it could have. If you’re still uncertain, feel free to ask for clarification.

Focus on the Good

Note the positives. A good beta reader or critique partner will sandwich constructive criticism between praise. If the criticism stuns you, take a minute to consider the compliments, too.

You’re in Charge

Remember: you’re the expert. If someone says something about your writing that you don’t agree with, you don’t have to change it. You know more about your story than anyone else. At the end of the day, you’re the boss.

Getting a harsh critique may feel like the end of the world. Using these tips, you should be able to handle any constructive criticism that comes your way.

How do you handle harsh critiques?

Have you ever received a harsh critique? In this post, @brianawrites shares her tips for handling criticism. (Tweet tweet)

Leave a Reply

5 responses to “How to Handle Harsh Critiques

  1. Adventures in YA Publishing

    Excellent tips, Briana! I think the points about not taking negative feedback personally and remembering the intent behind any critique are especially important when responding to critiques. It is SO easy for writers to feel they are being judged personally–especially because writing is always close to our hearts, and it’s a skill we value very much (or else we wouldn’t spend so much time and effort writing in the first place)! But just remember that beta readers and critique partners WANT you to succeed, or else they wouldn’t invest so much of their own time and energy into commenting on your work!

    And if you happen upon a review that is truly toxic … he/she may not be the best one for you. Writers won’t benefit from a group of cheerleaders who only praise their work, but if someone is truly a bitter pill, don’t be afraid to step away and seek another person who gives feedback with your best interests and constructive growth in mind.

    –Sam Taylor, AYAP Intern

    • Briana Morgan

      Sam, thanks for stopping by! I totally agree with you about there sometimes being a need to seek a different critique partner. Like any relationships, if things go south, it might be best to break it off.

  2. JazzFeathers

    I agree with every point you made. Especially with, don’t feed the trolls. I think this is a more common practice than one would think (I personally know people who do it and they don’t even realise it), and it’s just… bad.