Dealing With Criticism [19APR2020]

Well, here we are. Another Sunday, another update post. I’ve actually been thinking about writing this up for a while, but it’s especially prescient tonight: How do I deal with criticism?

When I decided to publish my story online, I knew that I’d be opening myself up to criticism. I wasn’t particularly sheltering myself from it beforehand; I gave the rough draft to basically any of my friends that would give me the time of day, and I asked specifically for notes on what I could improve and things that didn’t work. But there’s a big difference between my friends and the general populous of the internet. For one, the internet strangers don’t know me, so they have no reason to hold back from saying anything and everything they’re thinking. The biggest thing though, which most people are familiar with, is that the internet lets you say whatever you want without fear of repercussions, and that sometimes gives people the playground to just be mean jerks for no reason. I knew all of this going into it, but the positives of publishing it greatly outweighed all of those negative aspects, so I went through with it.

It may be a weird thing to say, but I’ve enjoyed most of the criticism I’ve received so far (in the form of reviews on Amazon and comments on Royal Road). I agree with most of it. Yes, it’s short, and it ends on a cliffhanger! It wasn’t the greatest place to end things, to be sure. I do certainly spend a lot of time describing scenery, food, and other things that don’t progress the story, and I totally get how that can be boring. These are the sorts of things I can take in, digest, and hopefully do better on in my writing going forward. I’m just an amateur writer, with no delusions that I’m crafting an epic masterpiece or that this is going to become my full-time job. It’s just for fun! I hope people have fun reading it too, but it’s okay if they don’t. I wrote it because I wanted to, and had fun doing it. I’m not trying to sandbag you with all of this; most of the comments and reviews have been very positive! It’s a great little dopamine hit to see a new five star review and a nice comment from a total stranger. Having the ability to check that at any time via my phone is a bit of a dangerous concept, but that’s not a topic for this post.

“Why are you rambling about all of this?” I hear you ask. If I’m being totally honest, the real catalyst was that I got a one star review today from someone saying my characters were whiny and boring, and that it was a waste of time. That’s like the opposite of a dopamine hit. Naturally, I checked out the guy’s review profile, and was slightly heartened to find that he’s given out a very large amount of one star reviews. I’m not the only terrible writer on the internet, it seems! Joking aside, it finally brings me to the reason I decided to write this: How do I deal with criticism?

As it turns out, pretty well! It’s certainly no fun to see somebody trashing on something you’re proud of, but at the end of the day, what do I care? I did something that I think is really neat, and that doesn’t change because someone else has a different opinion. Especially someone on the internet. That place is awful. I’m not the sort of person who’ll go back and look at the review every day and sulk about it; I’ll just sulk for the 10-15 minutes after reading it, and then move on with my life. Now it’s just part of the overall score, and will fade into obscurity with the rest of the reviews. If you can glean any sort of takeaway from this word vomit, let it be this: If you’re doing something that you truly enjoy, don’t let anybody else’s opinion affect that enjoyment. Take any constructive comments you can find into consideration, and dump the rest. You’re the one doing something cool.

So. This wasn’t the most informative “news” post, was it? It was a rather cathartic exercise though, and it let me vent about something that was bugging me, so it gets published alongside the rest of it. I’ll definitely have to look into re-branding this page as a “blog” instead of just “news”. Another thing for another time. If you read this, thanks for taking the time to listen to me complain. Rest assured, progress continues on Volume 2, regardless of how many one star or five star reviews I get. I finished a chapter last night that I’ve been working towards for a long time, so that definitely feels good. At 97,500-ish words, I’m probably only one chapter away from finishing the first draft. My original estimate of finishing before the end of April seems…generous, at this point, but by the end of May is still a likely target. Updates will continue alongside progress (most likely on Sundays).

As always, thanks for listening reading!

~Adam

P.S. I do see the humor in saying “I deal with criticism well!” and writing a huge blog post about said criticism.

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