Tuesday, July 31, 2012
The Writer's Life - What to Do With Horrible Reviews
Somewhere out there somebody hates you - not just your writing, but it's personal - you.
At least that's the way it comes across.
After you put your heart and soul and lots of work into writing a book, gotten it published either by a major or minor house or self published, the worst (as you see it) has happened. Your writing received a truly horrible review. One so horrible and vicious that it feels very personal and it really, really hurts.
One so bad that to take the sting out you want to retaliate.
My advice? Don't.
The fact a writer (or an actor or any public figure for that matter) must face is that someday, somebody, somewhere is going to think your work is the absolute worse.
Sorry, it's going to happen. And that person, delightful soul that he or she is, is going to say it very loudly and very publicly -- you're a bad writer, your writing stinks, you, as a writer stink..
Look, I have my suspicions that pretty much every writer that was ever born has a deep dark secret - that his or her writing really isn't any good. In fact, that his or her writing is really, really bad, just as accused.
So, don't read the reviews.
Well, you could make an exception for a 4 or 5 star review if you really need a little something to pump you up. But do not, I repeat, do not read the other reviews.
One nasty review can have you fuming for a day or longer or even paralyze you to the point of not writing. That bad review of your writing can have a strong impact. It can cause you to change yourself just because you read it. To please one single slimeball having a bad life, who went out of their way to trash you and your writing you might change yourself. If you do you're an idiot.
Sorry, blunt, but well, you are.
Look, you've chosen to be a writer. You've chosen to take risks. It would be nice if life were all lollipops and roses and people were nice to each other all the time, but unfortunately that isn't the truth. There are the jerks mentioned above and there are also the run of the mill 'reviewers' who may not be out to get you (or, well, they might) and give what is in their opinion an 'honest review' that just happens to shred your work. Don't read those; simply not worth the angst.
The risk you take being a writer exposes you and you can take a hit.
Get over it.
Don't read any more.
Think about your fans, the people who really, really like your writing. Those are the people you need to please, to encourage to come back and read again. Those are the ones you write to, not the big negative.
The hits are out there, they're going to happen. If you can't handle them perhaps you need to chose another direction for your writing career. You could do commercial writing or newsletters or grants and not risk 'bad reviews' or 'poison emails'.
So you can avoid reading the reviews of your writing, but what about the one who really makes it personal and sends you that nasty Email that trashes everything you've ever written?
You don't have to read that either. When you get spam in your in box you know it after a few words, right? Same applies here. When you recognize an attach on you and your writing, don't read it. You might want to make a folder to keep these tucked away so you have an email address to back track just in case (that's another whole ball of wax and another article for another day). Call it something like "jerks", "idiots" or whatever suits your fancy and chuck it into that folder as soon as you know you have a bad one. It's their problem not yours. Think of them spewing on each other in the tight confines of that little folder and not on you and what you write. Don't read it, and really (I mean really) don't answer it. You might put a block on that particular address as well.
So what's the message here? Protect the fire in your gut that drives you to write, improve your writing always - with your actual fans in mind - and avoid the negative; it has power to harm you only if you let it.
Face it. As a writer you are dependent on yourself. Not everyone will like everything you write. Enjoy about half the wonderful things people say about you and what you've written (I say half because they're not always right either!) and dump the negative altogether.