Guest Writer: Amanda Laughton. A Teeny Tiny Blog
As an artist or writer or anyone engaged in any type of project that you're sharing with other people in some way, you can expect to receive criticism about your creative work. I'm not sure that receiving criticism ever gets easier, but fortunately, you can get better at handling it over time.
The first thing to do is to try and depersonalize the feedback you receive. Hard as it can be to separate yourself from your work, if you can take this step back, it will help you have the perspective to distinguish between criticism directed at your work and criticism directed at you as a person.
This sounds like a cliché, but truly: it's not about you.
If you receive especially harsh criticism, see if you can redirect your thoughts and think about the person volunteering the feedback. Why might this person be making such rough statements about your work? Did the person have a bad day? Has there been some kind of misunderstanding?
Ask yourself some questions about the intentions behind the criticism. Is the person an expert in this subject matter? Is it possible that the person is trying to help you but isn't very skilled at framing suggestions in a constructive way?
Try not to let even the most difficult criticism get blown out of proportion. People criticizing your work aren't saying that you're a poor artist or talentless writer or unhelpful webmaster or clueless entrepreneur. They're simply offering their individual opinion on one particular piece of work of yours. You can create plenty of other projects in your lifetime. Criticism isn't a definitive statement about you or your career.
Allow yourself some time and space for private reflection. Freewriting or journaling can be helpful in getting your feelings out and not letting the criticism overwhelm you.
Last but not least, connect with your community. Talk to a trusted friend or colleague about the feedback you've received; together, you might be able to view the critical words in a new light and find ideas to consider for revisions or future projects. On the other hand, your friend can also help you assess which aspects of the feedback aren't relevant to your work right now.
Just because someone criticizes your work doesn't mean you have to accept the criticism and make changes because of it. You and only you have responsibility for choosing and maintaining the boundaries of what you do and don't want to do in your creative work.
"Creativity takes courage," said Henri Matisse. Remember that you're not alone in your efforts to handle criticism. In fact, you're in very good company.
Amanda Laughtland is a poet, collage artist, and teacher based in Seattle. She offers affordable 100% online writing classes for writers all over the world. To see samples of her work, check out her blog, where she posts poetry and handmade collage art.
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