The 5 Stages of Receiving Negative Criticism

A while ago, my creative writing professor said although he liked the first part of a story I had handed in to him, the last two parts seemed gimmicky. After five minutes of white noise and rapid eye blinking I thought, for a man who makes a living choosing the right words you’d think he’d come up with something a little less harsh. But harsh words or not, he was right, although it took me two weeks of grief to understand why.

Getting feedback on your work is essential to produce a good story. We like to think that we can take constructive criticism on the chin (especially when it’s positive), but when we’ve coddled a beloved story for months, edited, and tucked it in bed, it’s hard to deal with negative feedback. Seasoned writer or no, you’re likely to go through these stages when a story you’ve written isn’t received as well as you thought it would be.

Denial

you_stupid_writer_drunk_off_rhetoric

You don’t like my story? I know you’ve had years of training, write professionally for a living, and have published several novels, but you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about.

Anger

angry_writer_1_drunk_off_rhetoric

For every red mark you’ve left on my work, I will kill you.

Bargaining

bargaining_writer_drunk_off_rhetoric

Okay, my story is kind of terrible. If I could just write one amazing book I promise to drink you once a day for eternity. That’s how all the good writers do it anyway, right?

Depression

how_to_take_feedback_Drunk_off_rhetoric

It’s true, I’m a phony with no talent. I’ll start looking for a real job as soon as I’m through wiping my tears with the pages of my unfinished novel.

Acceptance

dealing_with_criticism_drunk_off_rhetoric

Okay, I wrote a bad (really bad) story, so what? I’m going to take your feedback and those red marks all over my pages, and turn them into something awesome.

Sometimes things are best said in GIFs. I think I’d be more accepting of negative comments if they came in GIF form. 😀 When was the first time you had to deal with negative feedback on your work? How do you deal with the red mark of death?