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5 Constructive Ways to Handle Negative Feedback

Handle Negative Feedback

Handle Negative Feedback - Turning Criticism into Improvement

As a writer, one of the most challenging aspects of the creative process is to handle negative feedback on a story you’ve poured your heart and soul into. Rejection and criticism can be disheartening, and it’s only natural to feel a range of emotions when faced with such feedback. However, it’s essential to handle negative reviews with a level-headed and constructive approach. In this article, we will explore five effective ways to cope with negative feedback and use it to enhance your writing skills.



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Acknowledge Your Feelings

Receiving negative feedback can be emotionally taxing, especially if you had high hopes for your work. It’s crucial to acknowledge and accept your feelings of disappointment or frustration.

Remember, it’s okay to feel upset or hurt initially. Writing is a deeply personal process, and negative reviews can sometimes feel like a personal attack. Give yourself time to process these emotions, but don’t dwell on them for too long.

Example bullet points:

  • Allow yourself to feel the emotions: It’s natural to feel hurt or upset, so give yourself permission to experience these feelings.
  • Don’t take it personally: Understand that feedback is about the work, not you as a person.
  • Seek support from trusted peers: Share your feelings with close friends or writing partners who can offer encouragement and perspective.

Don’t let the discouragement lead you to have a fear of failure.

Learn from the Feedback

Negative feedback, although challenging to hear, can be a valuable source of insight. Once you’ve allowed yourself to process your emotions, take a closer look at the feedback you received. Put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes and try to understand their perspective. Analyze the specific points of criticism and consider how you can address them to improve your story.

Example bullet points:

  • Identify recurring themes: Look for patterns in the feedback to pinpoint common areas for improvement.
  • Focus on constructive criticism: Separate constructive feedback from baseless negativity to identify actionable suggestions.
  • Look for growth opportunities: Use negative feedback as a catalyst for growth and honing your craft.

Learning from feedback is an indispensable part of a writer’s journey. Embracing negative critiques with an open mind and a growth-oriented perspective allows us to evolve and refine our craft. Every comment, even the harshest ones, can become a valuable stepping stone toward improvement.

By acknowledging our emotions, seeking clarity, and rereading our work with feedback in mind, we can gain fresh insights and discover the areas that need enhancement. Remember, it’s not about letting negative feedback define us; it’s about leveraging it to shape our stories into powerful, resonant works of art.

So, breathe, embrace the process, and keep your pen moving forward, for it is through learning from our feedback that we truly become stronger and more accomplished writers.

Consider Asking Questions

When feedback is ambiguous or unclear, it’s essential to seek clarification. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions to better understand the reviewer’s perspective. This can be particularly helpful when you receive mixed feedback in different areas of your story.

Example bullet points:

  • Request specific examples: Ask the reviewer to provide specific instances where certain elements could be improved.
  • Seek suggestions for improvement: Inquire about potential solutions or alternatives to address the identified issues.
  • Be open to feedback discussions: Engage in a respectful dialogue with the reviewer to gain deeper insights.

When faced with feedback that may seem puzzling or insufficient, don’t hesitate to seek clarity by asking questions. Engaging in a constructive dialogue with reviewers can provide invaluable insights and shed light on areas that require attention.

By posing specific inquiries and delving deeper into their perspectives, you’ll be better equipped to understand their viewpoints and discern the areas that demand refinement.

Don't Take It Personally

It’s crucial to remind yourself that negative feedback is not a reflection of your worth as a writer. Separate your self-esteem from your work and recognize that critiques are part of the writing journey. Negative reviews do not define your abilities or potential.

Example bullet points:

  • Detach from your work emotionally: Cultivate a healthy separation between yourself and your writing to maintain objectivity.
  • Embrace growth mindset: View negative feedback as an opportunity to learn and develop as a writer.
  • Avoid dwelling on negativity: Refrain from fixating on the negative aspects and focus on progress instead.

If you want more details on what is mindset, click here to read an article by Kendra Cherry, MSEd. This publication on Very Well Mind was updated on September 20th 2022.

Reread Your Work After Feedback

After giving yourself some time to process the feedback, revisit your story with a fresh perspective. Armed with the insights gained from the critique, you’ll likely notice areas that can be improved and refined. Use this reread to enhance your plot, characters, and overall storytelling.

Example bullet points:

  • Review the feedback alongside your work: Examine the story with the feedback in mind to gain clarity on potential revisions.
  • Identify areas for enhancement: Highlight specific scenes or passages that can benefit from restructuring or rewriting.
  • Make thoughtful revisions: Apply the feedback with a discerning eye, ensuring that the changes align with your story’s vision.

Receiving negative feedback can be a reality check, but it’s essential to remember that it’s a normal part of the writing process. Take a step back, give yourself space to reflect, and remind yourself that this feedback is an opportunity to grow and improve your craft. Embrace the learning experience, and don’t let negative feedback discourage you from continuing your writing journey.

Breathe, Step Back, and Don’t Give Up

Recommended Books to Handle Negative Feedback

The Art of Letting Go by Nick Trenton: A reflective and practical guide on how to release emotional burdens, this book provides techniques to help readers move beyond past hurts and negative thoughts, enabling personal growth and a healthier mindset.

Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen: An insightful exploration of feedback and how it impacts personal and professional relationships, this book offers strategies to receive and interpret feedback effectively, fostering growth and improving communication skills.

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck: A groundbreaking book exploring the psychology of success, highlighting how a “fixed mindset” versus a “growth mindset” affects one’s ability to achieve goals, learn, and grow, with practical advice on fostering a mindset conducive to personal and professional development.

Final Thoughts

Handling negative feedback as a writer can be challenging, but it’s essential to approach it with an open mind and a growth mindset. Remember that all writers face rejection and critiques, and it’s how you respond to them that makes the difference.

By acknowledging your emotions, learning from the feedback, and maintaining a positive outlook, you can turn negative reviews into valuable stepping stones toward becoming a stronger and more resilient writer.

Good luck with your writing journey!