So, what do you do with all of this criticism? Your first instinct may be to take it to heart. Your second instinct may be to fight back—but that can make the situation even worse. What you do should depend on what type of criticism you’ve received. The following is a guide for how to handle negative feedback:
Remember, everyone has different tastes. Suppose you write an article for a food magazine and share your secret for perfect banana bread. No matter how wonderful your recipe is, you are bound to receive comments along the lines of “It was only okay,” or “I still prefer Alton Brown’s recipe.”
So, what should you do? Nothing. You can’t be everyone’s favorite. This is especially true for anyone who writes fiction. Assuming that you feel confident in your work and you’ve followed the online writing checklist, it’s best to let these negative reviews go.
On the flip side, you may be able to gain constructive feedback from the reviews. If you see a few comments that the reveal in your mystery story was weak, take them seriously. Try to understand where the criticism is coming from and use it to make your next piece better.
With online writing in particular, articles can spark a dialogue among readers. If readers have valid queries, you should address them when you can. They might wonder why you left out certain information, or they may disagree with your interpretation of events. It’s okay to clarify or address concerns. Just remember to always be professional in your response; never criticize the writer or the comment itself.
Suppose you write an article about the effects of a change in city policy. You may see a comment asking why you didn’t include the effect of the policy on the city’s senior population. This is a good time to respond in the article’s comment section, on Twitter, or on your personal page. If you had specific reasons for the choices you made, explain them. If it was an oversight, apologize. If possible, promise to address the information in a future article or update the original piece.
The worst type of negative feedback requires damage control. When someone attacks you, you need to respond. If a reader is spreading rumors or outright lies, do your best to set the record straight. Use all available social media channels to tell the truth and debunk the lies. If you get a positive message out there, people will start to ignore the negative comments. Once again, you need to take the high road and remain professional in all your replies. If the comments ever turn into threats or abuse, stop engaging and speak to the authorities.
It always stings when someone doesn’t like your work, but negative criticism is a part of any writing career. Don’t waste your time worrying when you could be working on your next great piece.