11 Writers on How They Deal With Criticism


For me it’s important to acknowledge the inevitability of negative criticism. If I continue to write and to publish, it is going to happen. It has happened. It is a fact of any writer’s existence. And when we get negative criticism, we are in excellent company, since it has probably happened at some point, if not at multiple points, to every writer we have ever admired.

Anyway! When faced with negative criticism, I first try to keep things in perspective. I remind myself that no one ever died from getting a 1 star-er on Goodreads or a shitty review. It sucks, but it’s not a national tragedy. Who said that thing about letting a bad review ruin one’s breakfast but not their lunch? I try to do that, or to use negative criticism as an excuse to have a cathartic dance party in the middle of the day or to do the boxing workout I am too busy/lazy to do 50% of the time. A bad review hurts, no doubt, but I try to remember that even though negative criticism can, at times, make me feel small and wounded and afraid, it will only paralyze me if I let it. I try to consider the source, which sometimes makes it better and sometimes makes it worse. I remind myself that nothing can be for everyone. More than anything, though, I try to funnel whatever hurt I might be feeling back into my work. I tell myself that one day I am going to write something so fucking amazing it will melt the eyeballs of whoever hated on my stuff in the past. I watch the Honey Badger video. Over and over. WHAT WOULD THE HONEY BADGER DO? I think we know! I remind myself that what matters most (always, always, always) is my ability to dig in and write through it.

— Laura van den Berg’s latest collection of short stories, The Isle of Youth, was Flavorwire’s favorite collection of 2013.