Bad news, everybody.
It never gets easier.
Sharing your work, getting feedback, receiving critique–it never gets easier. Anybody who tells you that it does is lying to themself and to you. Being told you are doing something wrong and here is the obvious way to do it better hurts. Simple fact. You can’t do anything about it.
But what you can do is learn. You will always have that initial stinging irritation, but what will change over the years is your reaction to it.
The first time I had an editor friend look at my work, I stopped writing for months. I was scared, and hurt, and shaken that the thing I had thought was so good was so… not.
That was years ago. Now, I roll my eyes at how dumb I am and set to work making things better.
So how can we start helping ourselves have better reactions to feedback?
Take a deep breath before you start reading comments. Remind yourself that you have still made something that wasn’t there before, and that is still of merit.
Consider mental health. If you’re in a bad place (mentally or emotionally) that day, maybe don’t go read a string of things about how the thing you made could be better. I find that it doesn’t encourage me personally, so I take care to pause beforehand and make sure I’m ready.
Discussion is your best friend. If you don’t understand why someone is saying something, or where they got that idea, ask them to elaborate! If you can’t see where someone is coming from, you’ll never know if you don’t ask. Chances are that if someone commented trying to help, they’ll be more than willing to engage with you.
Learn to recognize when someone is trying to write your thing for you. This is the opposite of helpful feedback. If you know that you’ve made a creative choice and someone is trying to change that, you don’t have to take their word for it. You are free to say, “Actually, I wrote it this way because of X and Y reasons.”
If you can’t tell if something is a helpful critique or not, wait on it! Let it sit there on the screen and in the back of your mind for a while. If other people comment saying they agree, then you’ll have more of a consensus on the topic, and you will have made some time for you to consider the topic as well.
Remember that you’re not chopping it up, you’re making it better. Going into the editing process with the mindset that you’re improving instead of changing everything can be very helpful! Approaching things with that sort of positivity can help you go through it with minimal pain.
Don’t waste your time and energy on negative people. If they’re not going to give you the courtesy of phrasing their feedback in a helpful and polite manner, don’t give them the courtesy of paying attention to them.
So, no, reading feedback never really gets easier, but over time your reactions can change to improve the experience for you. Take things in baby steps, be kind to yourself, and get out there and improve your work!
Inbox is always open if you want to say hi, ask writing questions, or ask about my work!
Sometimes we all need to be reminded of this…<3