I love to write. That fact is evident in that I publish much of my work for free on sites like usedview.com, the Silvercreek Tribune and my own blog. I put my heart and soul into my writing projects, so when I hear any kind of criticism, my first instinct is to become incensed, beaten down or just plain sad.
When I first started putting my writings out in space, I remember feeling a sense of pride, even if I was publishing my own stuff. I got more into the public sector with a blog dedicated to my community. If you didn’t already know this, the truth is that you can’t make everybody happy, no matter how hard you try. When criticisms started coming in, I bent over backwards to fix the offense or soothe the complainant. Many times, no matter what I did would make a difference.
I found myself choosing my words very carefully so as not to offend anyone. As a result, the quality of my work became compromised. Just like any other person who submits his or her work to public scrutiny, I had to either develop a thick skin or continue to write sub-par content.
It’s been a little over a year since I have sent my work out into cyberspace, and I am still developing that skin. Some comments and criticisms do still hurt, but I have learned not to react instinctually. I myself have read something and not liked it – many times. Does that mean that the producer of that content is a crappy writer? Maybe in my perception, he or she doesn’t meet my standards, or maybe this one piece just didn’t speak to me. So who am I to fall into a puddle the minute someone doesn’t like my work?
Writing for the public is dancing the fine line between writing what I love in my own voice and writing specifically for the enjoyment of my audience. If either of those conditions gets too light or too heavy, everything can look like a catastrophe.
In life, as in writing, you will come across people who do not like you or what you do or say. What I have learned in my own experience is that people’s comments and criticisms don’t have as much to do with me, as they have to do with that person and his or her perception. You and I can read the same article and have vastly different opinions about it. Does that make one of us right and the other wrong? No – it makes us different. And different really is a good thing!
When a particularly harsh criticism comes in, I take time to think about what the other person has said and try to put myself in their shoes, if just for a minute. If I have offended someone or unknowingly broken a trust, then I do what I can to repair the damage. But most of the time, I try to take the comment in stride, remember that I can’t please everyone, and start writing again.
The next time you feel crushed by someone’s words, remember that it’s not all about you. Try to understand what he or she is talking about. It doesn’t matter if you find merit in the comment or not, just start “writing” again, knowing that this too shall pass. Don’t let anyone steal your joy. There’s beauty and merit in every single one of us.