One of the things I hear most often from new authors is 'I just how this nasty review. What do I do?'
As Marie points out, criticism is part of being human. We all make judgements on just about everything. But as authors, as creative people, we can't let it get us down. Easier said that done, I know.
I want to share a story with you. When I was seven my second grade teacher requested a conference with my parents two weeks into the school year. During their conversation, the teacher told my parents that I would flunk the second grade. Why? Because I was such a horrible speller.
Just for the record, no, I didn't flunk second grade.
Was the teacher wrong? Was I not a horrible speller? No. She was right. I wasn't gifted with a natural ability to understand the spelling and grammar rules of the English language.
Was her criticism constructive? Not really.
Let's jump twenty three years into the future. For the first twenty-nine years of my life, I'd never written anything that wasn't required for school or work. Because of the criticism I received from that second grade teacher, and the many events that followed which only worked to prove her point, becoming a writer never occurred to me. It wasn't even on the table…or even in the room.
So what change? Nothing dramatic. I didn't magically receive the gift of spelling and grammar from the English fairies. What happened was that I was laid off from my job and discovered fan fiction.
For those who don't know what fan fiction is, the concept is quite simple. Have you ever read a book, or watched a TV show that you absolutely loved so much you didn't want it to end? Did you ever wonder what would happen next?
That, is fan fiction. It's people who loved a story, characters, worlds, so much that they didn't want to say goodbye.
After waffling back and forth for almost a month, I took the chance and posted the first chapter of my fan fiction story. It got some positive feedback, so I posted several more chapters. by the time I was finished posting the story, it was the eight most read story on the fan site. Quite an accomplishment for someone who didn't think they could even write a story.
Fast forward seven more years. I am not the author of seven novels and one short story. My last four books have hit the Amazon Best Sellers List in their categories. Looking back on my writing history, I could never have imagined being where I am today.
Criticism is everywhere. It isn't something that's going to go away, and that's not a bad thing. We can learn from criticism as long as it's constructive.
Does that mean I don't occasionally let bad reviews get me down? Of course I do. As a creative person, I can be extremely sensitive.
My advise to new authors starting out is to set up a support system. It can be one person, or a group. These are people who will be there to listen to you vent when you need it, and bolster you up when the creative juices aren't flowing like you want them too.
I'm very lucky that I have some great women in my life who listen to me gripe and complain about bad reviews, writing frustrations, and general life difficulties that get in the way of my writing. They are always supportive, but they also don't just tell me what I want to hear. They are honest and aren't afraid to tell me like it is, but they are also people I know I can count on.
What about you? Do you have people in your life you lean on when the criticism gets you down? Leave a comment below telling me who is part of your support system and how they've helped your creative process.