"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Handle Constructive Criticism In Your Creative Career

Nobody likes negativity.
Whether it's a critical comment about how we look and our ability to do the "Special K Pinch", feedback on a new "experimental" recipe that we may use others' palates to pursue perfection, or a boss who belittles.

That goes without saying.
In fact, wouldn't it be nice if sweet words of endearment and accolades were the only kind that ever graced our ears?

Truth is, that's unlikely to happen. Stop dreaming.
That kind of reverence is usually reserved for eulogies.
But all criticism isn't bad.
And depending upon how you embrace it, it can be a great motivator as well as a savvy sharpening tool to hone your craft.
How will you use it?

In my capacity as an instructor, editor, and creative coach, I often come across artists who "stunt " their growth due to their inability to take "constructive" criticism regarding their work. Don't be one of them.

Here are a few things to consider.

1. It goes with the territory. To quote a popular expression, "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

2. Entertain the possibility that a professional who has already successfully traveled the path you're pursuing may be more knowledgeable and able to exercise more objectivity about your work.

3. Don't personalize rejection. It's not an affront to your character or a death sentence for your career. Don't react, revise!

4. Keep an open mind. You just might learn something.:-)

5. Don't let your ego get in the way of your excellence!

Inquiring minds wanna' know...how do you handle criticism about your craft?

Image: Simon Howden


  1. Excellent advice. I appreciate feedback for my writing. Sometimes it stings and takes me a bit to process it, but my goal is to improve my writing and to put good things into practice. There's always something to learn, isn't there? Good post, thanks!
    :) Karen

  2. Karen,

    You write well, so I'm not surprised to discover that you try to heed the advice of editors. Ironically, (and unfortunately) it's usually those individuals that need the most help that are least receptive to embracing it.

    Even at my stage, I try to apply what I can, and dismiss what I feel is not valid, when receiving rejections.

    But, for sure, I'm always at least open to the possibility that there are things that I still need to learn in order to realize my full potential.

    My mom has always taught me that we should never stop learning. Thanks for your time and your loyal feedback.:-)

  3. Hi Jennifer,
    I just wanted to chime in. I haven't received too much criticism, but I am always self-conscious whenever I write. I blame that on my major professor when I was in graduate school. Whenever I receive any critiques, I will take it as a lesson I need. It may hurt for a little bit, but I know it will be helpful.

    Take care!

  4. Hi Evelyn,

    Welcome again! I think your situation is common; many folks feel self-conscious when they write. But the more practice, the more comfortable you become. It was great to hear from you today. I value your input and your time. :-)

  5. Linked from Karen Lange's. Great points! We all receive criticism and it helps to be reminded of positive ways to respond to it. Thanks.

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksJuly 17, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    Hi Warren,

    Good to have you here sharing your thoughts.
    Like flowers need sunshine and rain to grow, writers require both criticism and praise to blossom and reach their true heights. Thanks for visiting!