Handling Criticism

Have you ever had one of those days where you couldn’t get anything done because a hurtful situation was on instant replay in your mind? Maybe it was a bad review of your book or an emotional conversation with a friend or being treated unfairly at work or your kids not listening to you for the thousandth time.

That was me today. And with the release of 18 Thoughts, the final book in my 18 Things trilogy, coming in January, I thought today was good training. Because while I know plenty of people will LOVE the ending of my book, just as many could hate it. Knowing how to handle criticism is essential in life and especially if you want to last in the publishing business.

My initial reaction to criticism is usually the need to tell my side of the story, to prove I’m right and they’re wrong. But this holiday season, as I listen to my favorite Christmas carol, Silent Night, it’s been a reminder to find a quiet place before I respond instead . . . whether it’s eating lunch in my classroom while listening to my iTunes, taking the dog around the block, reading a book in my bedroom, enjoying a relaxing bubble bath, playing around on Pinterest, or sitting quietly on my back porch. Why? Because in the quiet, things make more sense. Having some quiet time brings me to a more rational place where I can respond to the situation with truth. Because in the quiet, I’m able to put myself in the other person’s shoes and understand why they said what they did, even if I don’t agree with it.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is even though multiple people are involved in the same situation, nobody sees things from the same perspective. So when we’re dealing with high emotions, whether it’s in a real relationship or with our book boyfriends, keep that in mind. Give your friend, coworker, family member, fellow author, or book reviewer the benefit of the doubt before you criticize them or respond to their criticism (and by the way, I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t ever respond to a mean book review).

With my next book release, I hope to stay ahead of the game by scheduling in some relaxation during the six week media blitz. Maybe if I pencil in some down time to relax and breathe, I’ll be able to respond with integrity when someone criticizes me because I’m not already pulling myself in a million different directions.


This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. We meet around the blogosphere the first Wednesday of every month. Feel free to join us anytime and thanks to this month’s wonderful co-hosts:

Heather Gardner

Tonja Drecker

Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace

Patsy Collins

And before I go, I wanted to give a shout out to my Curiosity Quills publishing sister, Sharon Bayliss. She has a shiny new cover out, take a look:

Watch Me Burn EBook

And to celebrate the cover reveal for The December People Book Two, from December 1-21, Sharon’s Book One, Destruction, is on sale for 99 cents! If you’re a fan of dark wizards and Urban-Fantasy, this is a MUST READ!

About Destruction

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn’t a choice.

Eleven years ago, David’s secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David’s wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children. Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK


20 comments on “Handling Criticism

  1. Great insights, Jamie!
    This holds true, I think, any time I am tempted to post or comment in a negative way about something on the Internet. When emotions run high, there is a tendency to lash out in a hurtful way, and as writers we know very well the power of the words we wield.
    I’m looking forward to reading 18 Thoughts, and I hope you keep writing stories after that!

  2. Congrats to Sharon!

    #sighs …. I’m notorious for replaying bad feelings in my mind. I swear I’m addicted to self torture. It’s really, really hard for me to accept when someone doesn’t like me or my work. I mean, I’m nice and understanding of others shortcomings. I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that others don’t always do the same. Though, over the last few years, I’ve learned to be more gentle on myself about my writing. If someone doesn’t like it that’s not a personal reflection on me. It could be their tastes, etc… Of course, I must stay open to suggestions to improve myself.

  3. Excellent advice. Sometimes stepping back for a while and letting the criticism sink in help. I had the luck to paired with Joan Barfoot as a mentor in a writing correspondence course. She told me that when she receives a critique of a manuscript, she always let it sink in first before she sits down and works on the comments.

  4. Handling criticism well is a bit like constructively using bad things from our past. There’s a line in the Pete Townshend album Psychoderelict, which is built around a radio play, that goes, “Remember, you don’t have to bury the past or the pain. You can USE it.”

  5. Great post. I found myself in a similar situation recently, when my short story was rejected by a magazine. I tried to listen to the critique and wrote about my experience for the IWSG post today.

  6. Jamie, I think you handle crisis and crits better than anyone I know on the net. You have weathered storms of your own and for other people and I am certain that whatever else comes your way, you will handle them with ease.

    Yes, listen to calming music, have a few laughs, enjoy the Holiday season and keep doing what you do … because you make other people smile 🙂

  7. This is a subject most people in a creative field could relate to. It’s funny, too, that even if we receive 1,000 compliments and one criticism, we’ll only hear the criticism!

  8. Sharon’s cover is beautiful.

    I’m careful how I respond to criticism. Online, I don’t respond at all. In person, I’ll accept criticism quietly and thoughtfully. If I accept it, it’s food for thought and change, and if not I’ll find a way to defend myself.

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